Boys, school and Italian life

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March sky, 2014

The rain has stopped, the sun is out and life is pretty sweet in Italy this March. I read in the papers and in friends’ emails that the snow is still dumping down in America and the sun is beating hot in Australia, while I look out my window and see a cool breeze blowing and the sun in the sky. We have a good life here, there is no doubt about it.

Our time is slowly dwindling down, we have a mere 4 months to go before returning to the real world of work (well for me anyway), houses, high schools, primary schools and day-to-day life back in Sydney with the friends and family we said goodbye to some 8 months ago. A lot of great things have been happening this month, however, I haven’t had time to sit down and jot it all down as I thought I would. Max turns 12 this Friday, WOW I find it hard to believe I have a 12-year-old under my wings.

We promised Alex for his birthday last year (it was the day after we arrived in Rome) that we would take him to gladiator school, alas, the night before I got struck down with food poisoning and was up all night trying to keep myself alive, therefore, gladiator school was delayed. Seeing how Max will be 12 on Friday and we have nothing else better to do, we decided we would go down to Rome for the weekend with friends and finally keep our promise to the boys re gladiator school! The tickets are booked and I’m staying away from seafood so we are set. It was an easy decision really, with 4 months left we are trying to do and see as much as we can. It’s not everyday you can say ‘Oh let’s pop down to Rome for the weekend’. I know it doesn’t mean as much to the boys as it does us, however, in years to come I think they will appreciate the flitting around more than they do at present.

The boys got their Italian school reports back at the end of last month which is quite a process compared to Australia. Back in Sydney the kids get a sealed envelope at the end of the day to give to parents. In our school here, there is a note sent out a week before with information telling you when you can come and pick the reports up and as usual I totally forgot. I was walking Max to basketball practice on a Thursday evening when a mum who is never at the school unless it is pick-up time, walks past me, says ciao and then asks me if I have the reports already? At this point I was trying to figure out why this mum was at school at 5pm, then trying to understand what she was saying to me (she always speaks super fast) and then when the penny dropped I looked like a complete idoit but had to keep walking in the other direction to get Max to basket…I left her standing there very confused, especially when I told her, NO not yet…see you soon!

I finally dropped Max at basketball (which is a 20 minute walk one-way), then Alex and I high-tailed it back to school to make the 6.30pm deadline to pick up these bloody reports…It was about this time I was preferring the Aussie system. We made it in time to be then told we must wait in line to speak to the teacher. ‘WHAT!??’ I was not expecting teachers to be there at 6.30pm! Anyway, after about 40 minutes standing in line it was my turn to go in (and it was at this point I told Alex to help me out with the Italian, to which he says ‘I doubt I’ll be any good mum’ and then proceeds to abandon me to look at pictures!). Thank god Max’s teacher is a lovely lady, she handed me his report, and said she was sorry she could only give him a 7 for Italian; however, it was working towards an 8.

SEVEN? He got a seven?? OMG!! I looked at her and said BELISSIMA!!! FANTASTICO, REALLY…7? Of course, she was super confused and then started talking at me in lightening speed which I only caught about 5 words in total before leaving the classroom with our first Italian report cards. Nic and I were so gobsmacked that the boys didn’t get any 3s or 4s on their reports (it’s out of 10) and to see the lowest mark was a 6 for science, well we were so overjoyed. It was actually quite funny when Max was reading his report, he laughed and said he wasn’t sure how he got that mark because he never does anything in science.

And truth be told, the boys constantly come home and tell us they understand nothing, they do nothing all day at school and really, why bother. Well, after seeing the reports I now believe they have been playing down their Italian with us (especially me) and in fact they are rocking along very nicely in school. The funniest report however, was the English mark…both boys scored an 8! Seriously, an 8 in their native language?? When I asked about this they both shrugged their shoulders and said “She (teacher) really doesn’t know very much English and we have to correct her” Note, HAVE to correct her, so I figure giving them eight is just her way of saying, “Get out of my class already!!”

So eight months into a twelve-month stay in a foreign country, I can honestly say as a family unit we are happy, involved in the community and eat like kings. We still feel like foreigners but also feel excepted by our neighbourhood, Nic and I are so happy we took the scary step of immersing the boys into Italian school cold-turkey-style because it has really paid off. Although the talk of being back in Australia is coming up more and more these days (especially from the boys), we are loving our life here. However, some home comforts are seeming a little closer (like having my car to do the grocery shopping!). I have a feeling the next 4 months are going to be action packed.

23 thoughts on “Boys, school and Italian life

  1. Has Nic been speaking Italian to the boys before or did they really not know any Italian before? They’ve done really well, you can be so proud of them! Pretty funny about the English though…

  2. that is fantastic – a 7 in italian!! A great achievement really.
    Funny about the English result though. When I did the 3rd year of middle school (la terza media) in Italy, I used to always correct my English teacher, who spoke with the most horrific accent.She was clearly terrified of having a native English speaker in her class.When other students would ask a question in class, she would reply “domanadalo a la Bacchia” (my surname, which she always prefaced by “la”) and I would run some of the class for her – at 14 years of age!
    What an amazing experience for the boys though. And for you really, “being able to pop down to Rome”. Everything is so far away in Australia. I am sure you will be returning to Sydney with mixed feelings – I know you will be making the most of the next 4 months

    • It sounds like not much has changed since you went to school here! Mixed feelings for sure, I just wish Australia wasn’t so far away…it’s not a place you can ever really leave for good, it might just be a few years between visits

  3. How fun reading that post. Loved it!! Such a fun time you are all having. Can’t wait to catch up in 4 months. Keep eating lots of gellato and speaking in Italian – cant wait for Alex to talk to my Max in italian hillarious xxxxx

    Sydney can’t wait to have the Bakers back. Xxxx ps 7 in Italian is brilliant. Woo hoo

  4. Those boys are so clever, I knew they would do well! Personally I can’t wait until you get home, I am looking forward to some face to face time!

  5. Congrats to the boys! Such a great report card🙂 I remember correcting the english teacher in 8th grade, after 3 years in the USA. I also got a lower grade. I guess they don’t like being corrected.

  6. That is so fun! A 7 is impressive! I can’t believe how fast this is going, and I am so excited to hear about gladiator school!!! Belissima indeed!

  7. Great post, I love the impromptu Italian parent-teacher interview! I look forward to hearing how Gladiator School goes!

  8. I wasn’t surprised by boys’ reports (And Nic had already mentioned them to me!) They have done well. Good to know reason for Rome visit altho we have pictures of you in gladiator gear from when you were last in Rome??? Neither boy knew reason for visit when I spoke to them.when I spoke to them!

    • The gladiator photo was with a couple guys looking like gladiators who were walking the streets getting money for posing with tourists Pam…this will be the real deal🙂

  9. Daughter got a low grade on her English report as well. She says it is because the tests are in Turkish and she has difficulty understanding the questions. She also says her teacher doesnt like her because she is always correcting her. “Stop correcting her!”

  10. Well done boys! (But good decision on the religion class perhaps, by the sounds!)

    Can’t believe how well they’ve coped at school in a foreign language. The “we do nothing” line is obviously common – P gives me that one as well, yet somehow he’s “magically” leant to read this year.

  11. I don’ t think you mentioned you were ill in Rome. I sent this photo to several people believing you were at gladiator school!! not that they knew any better! Look forward to real thing.

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