World schools for little humans

I am in shock tonight. From my Facebook feed I just realised that for many of my childhood friends who I have met through the years in my country of origin before moving to the UK, it’s their kids first day at primary school this September… Because I chose to come to live my life in England before starting our family, my son who is their children same age (6), has instead just started year 2 a few days ago: he reads 4 books at a time, write stories, sometimes teaches me some physic or geographic notions and solves long rod equations…

I know what emotions my friends are talking about these days, I lived them 2 years ago when I left my son in his brand new reception class, aged 4 and wearing his very first uniform instead of our grembiulino (typical Italian school wear)… And in a few years time he will be anxious about his GCSEs and his A Levels instead of fearing the scary Baccalauréat (very strict French equivalent of A Levels)…

I wonder tonight what it would be of our lives if my husband and I had not started this adventure 12 years ago? What would it be of our little man today if we had not made of him a little Brit whose favourite food is home made pizza and favourite movie character is Monsieur Hulot? His prospectives and habits would be very different and our experience as parents would be very different too…

And now that Brexit is happening, when he will grow up what will he feel he is deep down in his heart, Italian, French or British?

I hope that with his unique experience of an Italian father, a half French mother and being raised in London, within such an open and multiethnic environment, one day he will simply reply ‘just a human being, as we all have the same needs despite cultural and social diversities…’

Advertisements

Last letter to the elders

Tonight, whilst walking in the streets of Salamanca, discovering this beautiful Spanish town for the first time, beginning this way our summer holidays whilst we are headed to Portugal, I receive an unexpected phone call on my mobile.

The number is saved on my phone list as Mr and Mrs Blueman. I have just sent them recent pictures of the kids before leaving London, as I do twice a year to keep them posted since they don’t use internet (they are both over 80), so I assume they are calling to thank me and congratulate us on how our children have beautifully grown once again since our last letter.

When I pick up it is in fact Mrs Blueman who has just received my envelope and comments on the snaps I sent them with joy and enthusiasm as usual. Unfortunately she has no good news for me: she is the only one on the phone as Mr Blueman passed away a few months ago. He was very ill so I knew I could get this phone call at any point in the last couple of years, yet my heart is filled with sadness.

Who was Mr Blueman to me?

Many years before I could even imagine to move to the UK, John Blueman was the English man who bought in 1998 from my French grandfather Roz Al Len, my dearest grandparents country house that my grandfather had commissioned in the sixties on a land he had purchased next to the sea, and where all my best summer holidays of my childhood memories lies.

I was devastated when my grandparents, who felt too old to continue looking after this big countryside residence properly, decided to put ‘her’ on the market. Every time I travelled to Brittany since I was parted from ‘her’, my parents first and then myself (when I got my licence) would drive in the area and would stop on the opposite side of the road to look at it from outside ‘her’ gate, to see if ‘she’ was loved and well kept as we would have, with a pinch of jealousy that it was not our family’s anymore.

Crazy as I am, after living a few years in London and gaining confidence in the language and the British culture, I found the courage to write a letter to ‘her’ new owner of whom I knew the last name, I obviously knew his address in France and I was starting to understand the culture so it made me feel a bit closer to him.

I sent him a collection of photocopied picture of the house through my childhood years, starting from a picture of my mother in the garden being pregnant with me. I explained how much the house they were now living in had meant to me. And I asked to forgive me if I had bother them, but if they could let me know the day they would sell it, I might be interested in buying it back.

I could not be more surprised of their reaction. A few days later I received a letter back from Mr Blueman sending pictures of Roz Al Len in the past decade, how it had changed under their care, what plants and parts of the garden they had improved or needed to alter and how they had modernised and furnished it internally.

They were very happy I wrote to them that letter as they loved Roz Al Len as much as I did. I found out from them only then that some other cousins of mine had got in contact with them in the past in quite rude ways by stopping by and demanding to visit the property with dramatic tears in their eyes. But my approach had been completely different and a new friendship stroke up from that fearless letter I decided to send them in 2010.

Since then we started writing each other twice a year, at Christmas and at the beginning of the summer for the kids’ birthdays. Lately I felt life was so busy that I was usually just posting pictures with only a couple of words included with them. Below is probably the last proper old style hand written letter that John Blueman have read from me, could he rest in peace.

Dear Sarah and John,
Thank you for your lovely Christmas card, we received it just in time to know at which address (in France or the U.K.) to post our pictures this year!

We hope this finds you at best as you can be. So many things happened since our last letter…
Our son has started primary school and our daughter, always so active, is already riding child scooters despite being only 18 months old!

We spent a few days in Brittany this summer, at my mother’s flat: both my parents were there and thoroughly enjoined the kids company as you can imagine. When we drove passed Roz Al Len we noticed it was in not too bad conditions, have you had a chance to be back there since, despite the illness?

Unfortunately my beloved aunt passed away the day we were returning to the UK when we were boarding the ferry at St Malo, as if she wanted to make sure we would enjoy our time before leaving us and don’t let us feel sorrow for her whilst we were all together…

It is a very sad Xmas as every year I would post her the same pictures I was posting to you but this time there will be only one letter leaving from London…

On another note G and I went to New York for the first time in October, whilst G’s brother and sister in law looked after the kids, we enclose a picture of us there to show it was an amazing holiday!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our quartet with love

The end of an era

When your youngest child stops going to the nursery which the older siblings attended too before them, because he/she starts to move on to the next school level, it feels like the end of an era. You know the whole staff names by heart, you remember how each Xmas show went every year, you recall when that class room was painted in green and now those walls are orange… You are so used to the journey from home to the nursery, you cannot imagine you will never do it again (unless you have another baby in the meanwhile!).

It was a difficult choice for us to make, we absolutely loved our kids first nursery and will never stop recommending it. However we feel that our youngest is ready to move to bigger spaces in a preschool nursery for kids from 3 to 5 years old as her older brother did at the same age. And the fact that we are now offered 30 hours a week for free (9am-3pm Monday to Friday) with only lunches and after school clubs to pay the days we are working until 6pm, is also another main reasons that lead us to give our notice to our previous nursery. Not only she will have teaching staff who is more specialized in her age group, with amazing indoor and outdoor spaces and activities; for us it will also feel like we had an increase of salary without actually having to ask for one… When you combine budgeting factor with thriving conditions, the answer becomes quickly quite clear.

 

Dear nursery manager,

It is with great regret that I am giving our 8 weeks notice to remove my daughter from your nursery.

My husband and I want her to follow her brother’s step and have a year at a preschool nursery before she will start reception in Sept 2018.
It was a very difficult decision to take, our children had the best years of their toddlerhood at your safe, loving and stimulating nursery.
Their little personality will have been shaped for ever by the input of the Montessori method and the great care of your staff as a whole.

We wish all the best to the school, the teachers and the kids and we never know, you may have a third little infant of ours attending in the future or maybe not, we will see!

Kind regards,
C.

Remembrance day

You are in every single tear, in every single breath of mine, you are the wind in my hair, the rain on my face, a leaf on a stream, a butterfly on a flower…

You will have never known newspapers headlines with pictures of Syrian kids' little bodies on a beach, the Bataclan massacre, Brexit and Trump USA president, gay people mass murdered in Orlando or tortured in Cecenia…

I hold the phone where your number is still saved, from which I won't be able to call you anymore; my mother sits in the evenings at the same caffe where you won't join her anymore.

Are you really gone forever? Or are you just hiding in a Tibetan monastery meditating and contemplating nature's beauty, far away from the pettiness of the human beings that you despised so much?

Wherever you are, we terribly miss you and we hope you may rest in peace

The traveling bug (a political status)

When did I contracted this unusual disease, I am not quite sure…

Born in the north of Italy by a Sicilian father and a French mother, my first long trip was in my mother’s womb. In the summer of 1982 (like they had done the previous years when I was not even in their thoughts), they travelled in a small Fiat 500 from Veneto region up to Brittany, my mother’s home place, scared of nothing and no one. Since then they would drive at least 1600 km every summer to spend the holidays with my mum’s family in France, whilst they lived the whole year in Italy. Since my father’s family is from the very south of Italy instead, it was at Christmas time (every other year or so) that we would take a night train to cross the whole peninsula and then the boat to arrive on my father’s land to celebrate the new year.

When I was about 2 or 3 years old, they moved down to Tuscany were I grew up for the rest of my childhood. It is quite renown that most young Italians of my generation live with their parents until the age of 30 (and more). So if you consider that I instead moved to the UK (where I knew absolutely no one) the day after my 23rd birthday, holding my life in my hands and impatient to turn the pages of this amazing adventure book that I still consider my existence even up to nowadays, everything makes perfect sense: more traveling, a wider choice of languages for my kids, an extended internationalization for the new family I was building up in this country with my partner in traveling.

Continue reading

When Mother’s Day becomes more of a personal turmoil that makes you grow out of difficulty

E ancora una volta il mio feed di Facebook si intasa di status relativi alla festa della mamma, leggo di come le mie coetanee trentenni apprezzino il sostegno e la comprensione delle loro madri, di come non saprebbero fare a meno di loro…

Continue reading

The last time (author unknow)

The last time (author unknow)

 

From the moment you hold your baby in your arms,

You will never be the same.

You might long for the person you were before,

When you had freedom and time,

And nothing in particular to worry about.

You will know tiredness like you never knew it before,

And days will run into days that are exactly the same,

Full of feeding and burping,

Whining and fighting,

Naps, or lack of naps. It might seem like a never-ending cycle.

But don’t forget…

There is a last time for everything.

 

Continue reading