Valentino is speaking English and Italian and even some Veronese dialect. He is always smiling – and this of course brings me great joy. He has positive influences around him and lots of learning opportunities – such as naming and handling the fresh fruit and vegetables in the family Gastronomia (deli), watching the exchange of money and goods, interacting with his four, nine and fourteen year old cousins, his sixty something grandparents and his eighty something great-grandmother.
He eats freshly harvested and prepared wholesome foods, as lots of the fresh produce comes from local farms and all of the dishes are prepared by his nonni, zia or the women who work at the shop, who he has also grown to be quite fond of.
He has enjoyed getting to know my work colleagues because, not only are they great people but also I’m sure it pleases him to have people other than mum and dad to speak in English with. Although, he has been teaching his Nonna English. She has learnt ‘sit down,’ ‘more,’ ‘milk,’ ‘outside,’ ‘green,’ ‘red,’ ‘car,’ and numbers 1-10 from her 19 month old grandson.
When Giuseppe and I are both working she takes him out walking through the town. Passersby greet him by name and he waves and smiles and says ‘Ciao’.
He is so wonderful, sometimes I can’t believe it. Giuseppe and I gaze at him like he is an angel, look at each other and ask “But, how did we make such a wonderful boy?”
On weekends we play in his room, which is set up with little shelves of puzzles and activities, a box of musical instruments, a bookshelf and a standard, must-have large cardboard box made into a house – what child can resist.
For downtime, we read books; watch Dora, Bob or Little Einsteins. He helps us clean the apartment by putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket or washing machine, carrying his nappy bags to the front door and putting rubbish in the bin. He is also getting better at packing up his toys independently.
Now, working full-time and being physically away from him for 12 hours every week day, my time with him is more precious than ever. I love him so much and feel a sense of pride I have not known before – that we are doing such a great job raising him. I couldn’t do it without the Napolitano’s and the Rossignoli’s support.
If only our families could truly merge – see each other regularly, have dinners and bbqs and gatherings…
I told Giuseppe 3 years ago to invent a teleporter. He hasn’t even drawn up the blue prints for it.
It’s hard having your heart in two places. But my heart of hearts is with my love and my son.