I have magic kisses – I didn’t need them all that often, but when Federico took a tumble he would come to me with just the edge of his bottom lip sticking out and his eyes saying that this could go one of two ways, better or worse. I would sweep in and plant a kiss on his elbow, knee or forehead and his eyebrows would un-knit and he would instantly go back to whatever game had caused the fall. Magic kisses that work instantly, that’s a pretty cool super power!
I cant play games with kids – What I really mean, is I can’t play games when people cheat. For some reason it really bugs me and I know you are supposed to give kids lee-way with this, and I did, Fede was allowed to look at more cards in memory if he wanted to, but some games have really definite rules. Alessio was pretty good at chess and it was only when he started losing that he would try to bring in new rules. But I wouldn’t stand for it. Also, they both knew the rules of uno, but seemed to think that I didn’t, so they would try and tell me cards meant different things that gave them the benefits. Nice try guys but we have Uno in Australia too you know.
Kids cartoons are REALLY stupid, but I know what my favorites are – Some shows were just so strange, like the talking ducks that mined bread from the ground, some of which had magic powers? Or the fact that so many kids shows focus on farting, vomit and poo? They were not of interest to me. But Teen Titans? Where the little super people barely seem to spend any time fighting bad guys but a lot of time finding ways to get free pizza or find lost pets? They were really cool! I would always insist that the TV was switched to English when they came on.
Kids don’t learn from stories – Green Eggs and Ham. That classic Suess fable about giving things a try before deciding if you like them or not. I must have read it to them 20 times. Given it was in English, but it is not a hard book to get the hang of and I would even try to explain the whole concept to them at the end of the story and the boys would tell me they understood. Next night at dinner though ‘Non mi Piace!’ would be the cry and I would say ‘you haven’t ever eaten this before! you can’t possibly know if you like it or not!’ This fell on deaf ears (or I was probably not understood) and they never seemed to remember the moral of Green Eggs and Ham.
If a kid likes something, relate that thing to whatever you want to make things happen– ‘Spiderman likes carrots’ ‘Spiderman always walks on the footpath’ ‘Spiderman loves brushing his teeth’. Sometimes it worked.
Kids can be incredibly patriotic- I have young cousins at home and I am sure they can sing the national anthem and tell you they like being Australian but Alessio was a whole ‘nother level of patriotic! He saw me watching a movie about the greeks and I was trying to explain that they were around before the Romans. He basically told me ‘ don’t be silly, nothing came before the Romans!’ on other occasions I was told about how the Italians invented rock and pop music and I am pretty sure that his opinion of the English language is that it is much less important than Italian. The Romans didn’t speak English so why should he!
Kids don’t really care what language you speak – We would have the strangest conversations, I would speak English, they would respond in Italian, I would answer back in English and we would all go away understanding the basic gist of what was said. On the other hand, they also wouldn’t care if I didn’t understand. Alessio would jabber on and on and at the start of my time there I would get frustrated that I wasn’t understanding him but eventually I learned that just giving a little ‘uhuh, oh wow!’ every now and then kept him satisfied. He just needed an ear to talk to.
Italians aren’t born loving Italian food! – Federico didn’t like Gnocci, neither of them liked tomatoes, onions or garlic. Alessio didn’t like buffalo mozzerella. They both could agree on pizza but only with sausage and fries on top.