Sharp Monica

An honest voice in Italian paradise.

Qualcosa nell’acqua

Something is most definitely in the water.

Just a few amusing vignettes from the morning –

On my own with Victor (5) and Eleanor (1) trying to get them ready for school, out to the busstop, and to Scolopi by 9:30 at the latest. Victor is always the last kid in school so is missing out on his free-play time that his teachers emphasized would be so important for his acculturation and adjustment.

Eleanor wants to wear her baby Tevas. It’s 60F outside. She also wants to bring three stuffed animals and a naked doll.

It’s not even 9 am and I am done arguing. I quickly place all the stuffed animals on the empty plant stand by the elevator on our floor.

The buses are late. Victor is hanging off the lamppost like a sailor on shore leave. Eleanor is sitting on a stone curb that reeks of dog pee. She is rubbing her naked baby in the dirt. I look around to see if any Italian parents are taking pictures to report me to Italian CPS.

The #31 finally arrives after 25 minutes. It is packed to the gills. We get on. The bus lurches forward, sending Victor flying down the aisle. I stumble holding Eleanor to the middle of the bus, where an Italian bis-bis-bis nonna is sitting. “Siediti,” she tells Victor. He recoils. She has no teeth, no dentures. “I’m sitting down, Vic,” I say. Eleanor and I take the seat. The 150-year-old Italian woman immediately starts freaking out about how blonde my kids are. She is touching them and talking to them. Victor starts kissing Eleanor’s hand like a besotted Florentine dauphin. Grandma keeps talking and talking. I find her quite charming, but the kids are mortified. “Tante grazie, signora,” I tell her repeatedly. When the bus stops, everyone rushes to get off it like it’s on fire. Including the nonna! She pushes Vic out of the way and heads straight for the door. Like, a serious body check.

You’re cute and all, but out of my way. kid.

I am dying. Oh, Italy, I think. You can be such a mixed bag.

We are the last to exit the bus and start making our way slowly and painful a trois up Giorgio la Pira and Via la Marmora. This is like going to school with two ants. There is no straight line. Vic won’t hold Eleanor’s hand. She is trying to pry gum off the sidewalk. The orto botanico is also interesting. We have a long discussion about dog poop on the sidewalk. Everyone is disgusted. I finally drag them both into Scolopi.

Vic refuses to wear his slippers, but after the long discourse about sidewalk poop, he is visibly concerned about the bottom of his street shoes and lets me take them off to store them in the cubby. “Cubby, cubby,” says Eleanor, and immediately removes her baby Tevas. I shove her sandals in my purse and take Vic down to his class.

Meanwhile, on the primo piano in the nido, I see no one. I get us ready for a morning of confusion and muteness. A teacher comes out eventually and takes Eleanor. “Hug your mama and we’re off,” she instructs Eleanor. Eleanor lets out a whimper then a full wail. Hmm, this is not at all what I thought would be happening today. (See previous post, “Rules and Systems.”) “See you at 11:30,” says the teacher. “You will come back for lunch.”

I am so relieved that I do not have to go through Italian rush again that I almost start crying.

I head into centro on my bike┬áto look for some of the items we are still missing off of Victor’s school supply list. I stop in a small church on Via dei Servi and Bufalini to pray for strength in a back pew while tourists loudly snap pictures of unexceptional art.

Outside, and incredibly, I bump into the two English-speaking moms from yesterday. They were also surprised by the aberration from the nido script. I wonder if I look teary but they say nothing. “We should have organized something,” they say, and shrug. “See you at 11:30.” I still do not know their names, and I would tell them mine, but it doesn’t really seem like they want to know my name.

I fall in love with Flying Tiger, the Danish store that is like Muji. Pick up a bunch of goofy/useful stuff for all of us.

I also stop at Robiglio on Via dei Servi for what is possibly the most perfect cappucino I have ever had in my life. I smile as I think, well, here’s my daycare espresso.

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