Not all those who wander are lost.

Una Storia per Fare la Nana – A Bedtime Story

Written on July 1st, 2011:

Yesterday Tonja and Simone went into town with two of the kids for a concert, leaving me with Anna (7) and Lea (5) for the night. All in all, apart from a clogged bidet, the evening went smoothly. We watched a Tinkerbell movie dubbed in Italian (Tinkerbell is “Trilli”, in case you wanted to know), and we practiced English verbs in the piazza after dinner. “Anna – Run! Lea – Hop! Anna – Stop. Anna – Skip. Lea – Stop. Lea – Walk!” A bi-lingual version of “Simon Says.”

The bidet incident happened while I was cooking dinner. The girls were playing House upstairs. Lea’s current cast over her broken shin had inspired the girls to pretend that their “Baby” had broken limbs. To help the wounds heal, they had carefully fashioned a body cast (mummification with toilet paper). I applaud their creativity.

Regardless of mummification, a baby still requires periodic bathing…with copious amounts of shampoo…and apparently the bidet is the best option. O mio dio, what a mess. It will likely take at least a week for the plumbing system to recover.

But clogging aside, last night marked a first for me – flying solo during the bedtime routine. I am a pro at this; it is simply an art of distraction. Turn teeth brushing into a song or come up with a peek-a-boo game while you put on their pajamas and they forget that they are getting ready for bed. But to do this in Italian?!?!? They didn’t teach me that kind of vocabulary in my classes. My creative approach to getting them to bed was to say that they could lay down their parents’ bed and wait for Simone & Tonja to come home. Sneaky because I knew full well that they’d fall asleep before the expected arrival at 1am.

However, there was a downside – the girls were committed to staying awake when normally they crawl into bed and close their eyes. They proceeded to ask me to tell a bedtime story, in Italian. Again, my college classes failed me. But the next 15 minutes were absolutely magical. Anna and Lea were calm and quiet as they helped me stumble through the story, correcting verb conjugations and filling in missed articles. They were attentive and curious, but at the same time I could tell that they were slowly winding down from the day’s activities. I arrived at the end of the story, and without a further word, both girls closed their eyes and fell asleep. Beautiful.

The story I told was one that I remember my mother telling me and my sister when we were young. I want to take a second to compliment my mother on her story-telling skills. Twenty years later and I still recall the details and the lesson of the story: presents must be opened with care, and you must take a moment to appreciate the gift and thank whomever gave it to you. Beautiful job mamma mia. Thank you for the inspiration for my first Storia Per Fare La Nana (Italian bedtime story).

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