I'm in Italy this summer with the kids, staying with my in-laws.
During the daytime, I've been working on an archeological
dig, while my kids have been having fun with extended familyand working
on a study program of their own,
which in Chiara's case involves organizing clothespins and sticking
mandarin oranges in holes in the garden. My son and I have spent a few days here and
there exploring my beloved Rome.
This is my first time being abroad with both kids for an extended period (my husband, for work reasons, was not able to join us).
Luckily, I have Italian in-laws.
I've heard some of my friends rant and rave about problems with their in-laws. In my case, I wish that they lived with us always. Not only are the kids basking in their love and care, but so am I.
My mother-in-law prepares all meals for us, with fruits picked from the trees in the backyard and vegetables gathered with the children from the garden. Daniel (age 10) has learned how to pick the perfect zucchini flower and Chiara now knows how to climb a ladder (with Nonno's help, of course course) to pick the plum that she'll then eat. Meanwhile I'm sitting down to meals that put any Italian restaurant in Chicago to shame.
Nonna took it upon herself to potty train Chiara (age 21 months). In the two weeks before we left Chicago in mid-June, Chiara made a few peeps and poops in the potty, but wasn't the best at telling me when she had to go. With Nonna's help (lots of talking through the steps with Chiara), she is already adept at telling us when she needs to go and enjoys sitting and reading a Topolino (Mickey Mouse) comic on the potty. All it took, according to Nonna, was a bit of buona volunta' (good will).
I call this Nonni University, because every time we visit with them, Chiara has learned a new big task. When they visited soon after she was born, Nonna taught her to sleep in her own crib. When they visited at her first birthday, Nonno and Nonna were determined to teach her to walk; they helped her build up strength by having her climb our front steps. Days before they returned to Italy, Chiara was walking on her own.
What would we do without loving Nonnas and Nonnos??? I told my mother-in-law that they only way I could think to repay her for her kindness was to promise to be the same sort of loving Nonna to my children's children. But I'll never come close to being as a good of a cook as Nonna, and we've all put on a few healthy pounds to prove it!
Amy Bizzarri is a mom of two living in Logan Square. She also blogs at tiramisumom.com.
See more of Amy's stories here.