Thursday, 6 March 2014

Isabel's Golden Nuggets

Philosophical: "I am me"

Rage-filled: "Mummy, you're NOT my friend!"

Pensive: "Old people are gonna be dead"
(shortly followed by)
Worried: "But those ones which are alive, they aren't dead ...?"

Soppy: "Mummy, I love you so much, I want to marry you"

(at the traffic lights)
Curious: "Why has the green man got no clothes on?"

(thankfully in English)
Scathing: "That girl has fat legs"

Mature: "I used to play with that/wear that/watch that when I was two!" (she's now three)

Italian: "I want tortellini for dinner"

Totally un-Italian: "I want tortellini for breakfast"

(This post was actually inspired by 22 month old little bro Jack who, this evening, said "moon mana". Loosely translated from toddler-speak, this means: "Look, the crescent moon is the same shape as a banana". This struck me as such a genius flight of imagination that it got me thinking of all the other odd stuff his big sister has come out with recently)

(It is also inspired by my dad, who consolidated his role as King of the One-Liners on a recent visit by coming out with the absolutely corking: "Are chickpeas called that because they're for girls?")

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Friday, 7 February 2014

Pass the bucket

Ah, the delights of the vomiting toddler. He was sick in his bed, on the floor, on three towels, on the sofa (not the one with the washable covers), in our bed, on my pyjamas, on my dressing gown, on my face and in my hair. At one point in the night, desperate and delirious, I mopped it up with the first thing to hand (one of G's t-shirts) and then collapsed asleep on a huge seeping damp patch. He's had two baths and several washes since then, and yet he still smells faintly of eau de puke (the toddler, not G - he just smells as pleasant as any fully-grown man who believes deodorant to be unnatural).

Now the sickness has passed, leaving a tsunami of washing in its wake. Obviously it's 5°C and pouring with rain outside so you can be fairly sure that if you stand still enough in our house then I WILL drape a sheet on you to dry. I yearn for an airing cupboard.

No-one mentions the unbelievable quantity of washing you will have to do once you have children. Staying on top of the washing is, at best, a part-time job. And you will wash your own clothes only about once a year, your jeans never. Unless you actually get infant poo on them. Once, whilst having temporarily abandoned the slopes of Mount Laundry, I noticed a chocolaty stain on my jeans. Poo or chocolate? I thought. Only one way to find out. Oh poo, I thought. It still took me three days before I got round to washing them. And I carried on wearing them for the rest of the day. Motherhood has made me such a scummer.

Anyway, an innocent tummy bug has pushed us over the laundry tipping point and we're now wading in the stuff. It doesn't help that G seems to get through a minimum of three t-shirts and one shirt a day (not counting ones with vomit on them). I also can't get him to understand that by the end of the day, a damp towel left in a pile on the floor will smell just the same as that half-eaten slab of gorgonzola we're cultivating at the back of the fridge. On top of this, the kids seem to know that the big sofa has washable covers (no matter how much I yell at them) and treat it like a giant etch-a-sketch. I'm also trying to get Isabel out of nappies at night with only a 50/50 success rate.

Shall we talk about ironing? Most of the mums I know in Milan have armies of Filipino women working away in broom cupboards who take care of this steamy task. I like to do my own. By which I mean I don't do any. By which I mean I FOLD everything and squash it down and that seems to work quite fine. Having a scruffy husband is an utter blessing at times. I may not appreciate him picking at his toe nails all over the living room floor, or his terrible aim (I can't believe he is actually going to teach little Jack how to pee one day), but I can at least rest assured that he will never complain that the pillow cases aren't ironed* or the scatter cushions are asymmetrical.

So, as the washing mounts and the smell of disinfectant lingers, I quietly count my blessings. And try not to think about the lack of deodorant.

*this is apparently a deal-breaker for at least two friends' husbands. Maddness. Our household policy is never to iron something that someone will probably end up drooling on.

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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Charm offensive

Someone stole my shopping today. Two courgettes, pine nuts, walnuts and a packet of pasta. I was only in the Post Office for 10 minutes - which is a miracle and in itself worthy of an entire paragraph really. In my excitement at seeing there was only one other person there, I shot inside faster than you can say 'don't worry, I have my own pen', stupidly leaving my shopping in my bicycle basket outside. I suppose I should be grateful that they didn't cut the lock and take my bike too (wouldn't be the first time. Or the second).

The real story is that today, while some scallywag was sizing up my veg, I made the Post Office lady laugh. She actually chuckled at a joke I made. Of course, she doesn't realise that she is my arch-nemesis and that in my head the PO has come to represent everything that is rotten in the state of Italy and generally the reason that it will never become the truly great country it deserves to be.

She doesn't realise any of that because to her, I, customer, am lower and more insignificant than a speck of dust on that ink pad she wields so mightily. My envelopes are the wrong size. How dare I only have a €10 note - she's going to have to ask her colleague ONE WHOLE METRE AWAY for some change. Her computer has frozen at the very sight of me and she can't even sell a stamp now. She needs a coffee. It's all my fault. People keep asking her complicated questions. She can't understand my accent and I'm too NICE.

Being nice is, in a stolen walnut shell, part of the Great Cultural Divide encountered by many of us Anglos. We say lots of pleases and thank yous and sorrys and often (spoiler alert: I'm about to make an offensive sweeping generalisation based on a shallow national stereotype) this excessive politeness is taken as a sign of embarrassing weakness. That, or a sign of guilt - in which case, what do we all feel so guilty about? What have we done? (apart from interbreeding with the locals and infiltrating the supermarket with our baked beans and our sweet chilli sauce).

Anyway, somehow, I made her laugh and for a second she was on my side for once. All was well with the world. But then my nuts were nicked and I had to go back to the supermarket feeling totally daft.

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Wednesday, 15 January 2014

What they don't tell you about living in Italy

1 You will, sooner or later, become trapped inside a building because you can't find the switch that opens the front door to let you out.

2 Nobody is scared of eating seafood. And nobody has heard of salmonella.

3 Everybody is scared of the rain. And everybody knows the fatal powers of a cold draft.

4 You will feel fat

5 You don't have the right hair. Or shoes. Or bag. If you live here for a hundred years, you will still look foreign. People will tell you this.

6 The Post Office doesn't sell stamps, or indeed provide any kind of service beyond selling those brightly coloured kids' books with padded covers and being a cosy warm place for elderly people to gather in winter.

7 Your children will be the only ones in the park allowed to play with sticks and dirt.

8 Italian women clean their houses EVERYDAY. Your house is filthy. A bit like your children.

10 If you drink a really cold drink on a really hot day, something dreadful will happen.

11 Good customer service is as easy to come across as Hawaiian pizza.

12 If you (female) dare to eat out by yourself (say, to spend some time updating your blog or something) then women will stare at you like you have some kind of disease and men will stare at you like they want to give you some kind of disease.

13 People will tell you that you're beautiful. You will bask in this. Even when it's that creepy mechanic guy or the ancient barman up the road. This will make up for no.s 4 & 5 above.

14 Strangers will literally swoon and gush at your children. They will stop other complete strangers to point out the beauty of your off-spring. You will bask in this A LOT. Then they will tell you that your children are under-dressed.

15 The concept of an over-dressed child doesn't exist in the Italian psyche.

16 There's no Hawaiian pizza. The food is better than you can possibly imagine. Especially the seafood.

17 In the winter, the weather is shit.

18 Your family doctor will refer you to a specialist. You will never have a simple cough again: you will have bronchitis.

19 There's nowhere to park.

20 Despite, and indeed because of, all of the above, it is the very best place to live.

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