Thursday, January 10, 2013

Italian Frog Puppets and Complete Strangers

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
Florence, Italy
Photo credit: Jasmic
Yesterday I took Henry to a trial Mommy & Me Italian Immersion class at Centro Raccontami in Manhattan.

Why?

This is why: Lo Zaino Invicta, or Why Henry Will End Up in Therapy. (Short version: Italian is my second language, and I have a lot of emotional baggage around it that I'd like to pass on to my son.)

The class was well done. We sang the alphabet and counted and played Eccolo! the Italian version of Peek-a-boo!

But it was also a little stressful. My Italian was rusty. And as with any new class, Henry spent most of it clinging to me for dear life. He doesn't even know the alphabet in English, let alone Italian.

Plus, Italians, well, they do things differently. Every time Henry put something in his mouth, the teacher told him to take it out. Contrast that with Music Together, a wholly American class with a separate "wet box" for all the toys that end up in children's mouths.

The instructor wore a form-fitting black knit sheath dress and black stockings to teach a class that mainly involved sitting on the floor and hugging children with a big frog puppet. I looked at my schlumpy Gap jeans and makeup-less face in the window's reflection and was like, for the seventy-thousandth time, God, I need to lose weight and start dressing better. Good thing we took our shoes off at the door so she didn't see my Mom Clogs (which I now wear every day, in case you were wondering).

Anyway, I signed up for the class. I know that if I don't speak Italian to Henry all the time, it won't matter, because he won't learn more than a few words or phrases. But I want to try.

***

Here's the part of the story that deserves the "Are You Kidding" label.

After class I slipped my Mom Clogs back on and bundled Henry up in my super awesome Ergo Baby Papoose Coat that I bought on clearance. I have the warmer winter version, and you can wear the baby on your chest or back. Here's what it looks like. See the little head sticking out? So cute! >>

On my way out, I called a friend to see if she was free for lunch. She wasn't, but we chatted for a few minutes. I thought about reaching into my bag for Henry's hat, but the subway was right outside the door to Centro Raccontami, it wasn't that cold and were only going to be five minutes. (I can't believe I am justifying myself.)

My friend was updating me on some health issues when I saw a man, maybe 60 years old, walking toward me and gesturing with a serious look on his face.

I narrowed my eyes in the universal silent communication of "What?" Was there a Tyrannosaurus behind me getting ready to chomp my head off? Why else would you be interrupting my phone call, complete stranger?

"Hat," he said, gesturing again, a bit more frantically. "Put a hat on the baby, it's cold out."

I. Almost. Lost. My. Mind.

"Really?" I said, turning to follow him down the street, like the hot-headed lunatic that I am. "Really? Is it cold out? I couldn't tell. Do you think I should put a hat on him? I wasn't sure. Thanks for letting me know," I yelled after him as he continued to walk away.

Excuse me, complete stranger, but did you carry this child in your uterus for nine months? No? Is that because he's not yours? Or because you don't even have a fucking uterus? Did you carry his nearly 20 pounds strapped to your chest inside a parka made for the Arctic Circle, for an hour from the ass-end of Brooklyn to the Flatiron District, sweating and late and trying not to trip down the subway stairs and kill yourself and him?

Did you?

DID? YOU?

Are you me?

ARE? YOU?

No?

Then, for the love of all that is holy, MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.

What is it with people?




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