Not Normal, Not Even Close

I can safely say that it is not yet normal, however after only two days ‘on the job’, that’s hardly a surprise. I haven’t left the house in 2 days, fortunately not getting cabin fever yet; probably because I basically have my own independent apartment on the top floor of the house (minus a kitchen.) Fortunately, tomorrow I have the afternoon off so I should be able to take some time to cycle into town and explore on my own!

I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to be doing this for 6 months straight. I could hardly keep my hair colour the same for 6 months straight, how am I supposed to do the same thing every day for that long? Here’s hoping that life with small children will be always full of surprises…

It’s a funny thing, when you go away and start afresh, because you could be a completely different person- if you wanted to. I don’t, or at least I don’t think I do right now. Even so, when you’re working hard to make a good first impression you do, to an extent, remake yourself into a model version of yourself; fun fact, model me isn’t a fussy eater! I, personally, do not think I’m a fussy eater. My mother would probably disagree. That said, I dislike fish, spinach, wine – specifically red, dark salad leaves, basically any leaves that aren’t iceberg lettuce, sparkling water, soya, mushrooms, any seafood actually and, well, the list goes on… From my memory since I’ve arrived (in order of consumption) I’ve said I don’t mind; sparkling water, rocket (lol, I hated rocket until Saturday, with a passion, like a lot a lot), red wine, white wine, mixed salad, olive oil, soya, oh and earl grey tea (which I have discovered that I actually do like now, I suppose that’s something to be said for fresh starts.) Anyway, the point is, I’m so busy trying to make the next 6 months easier for me and for mia famiglia that I’m getting over my dodgy eating habits. Admittedly, I’ll probably not be okay with the ‘salad as a meal’ thing for a while though – I have never been that sort of person!

I’ve found myself realising, these last two days, that this isn’t only a settling in, readjustment period, for me. I do not remember being a young child; in fact I’m not sure I remember much at all pre my teenage years (poor memory, not a traumatic childhood,) but I’m certain that if a stranger was brought into my home, forced into my daily routine, then I would need to readjust. It is, still, a readjustment period for me though. I’m sitting writing this on a desk covered with photographs of my friends, listening to someone else’s playlist, thinking about the potential ramifications of 6 months away. I’ve been thinking about celebrating my birthday on my own, which I’m sure I won’t actually be doing, and missing all of my friends birthdays, events and important things. On the other hand, I’ve realised there’s no point wondering on 5 months’ time, when it’s more important to consider the right now.

Right now is adjusting to the adjustment period of a little boy. Yesterday I finished the day mildly frustrated because I couldn’t figure out how I was going to fit into the life of this family of four if the main reason I was there, Fil, wouldn’t let me do what I was there to do – be the big sister. This is where the whole adjustment period thing came from, I’ve realised that it’s a case of testing boundaries, seeing where I’ll say no, if he can get away with more than he’s used to, if I can become family, or just a strict ‘nother person in the house. Honestly, I’m a pushover.  The funny thing is, over the two day period I’ve worked, I’ve seen the spectrum of easy-going and boundary pushing, had so much cute fun playing, and low key wanted to threaten a child. That’s normal right? In all the different times that I’ve worked with children I’ve never not experienced that, and I’m sure that my parents felt the same way about my siblings and I. I’m eternally hopeful that over the next few weeks that this routine will work out to a consistent relationship, because that is what I really want from this; to form a strong familial relationship with these children and the whole family really, or else this whole experience would be worth nought.

Routine is something that I’m routinely grateful for. Routine helped me to be a functioning, productive and healthy human being for the last two months, getting up at stupid o’clock to work, planning my own evenings seeing friends, and now it’s helping me know exactly where I stand in this family, to know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Each morning after breakfast I do an hour or more of phonics. I honestly thought that I’d left jolly phonics, blending, etc. behind when I left my job tutoring at explore learning but it’s kind of interesting seeing how the techniques I used there are both so very useful and useless here. Stickers, for example, are an excellent motivator. Telling Mama is absolutely not.  Arts and crafts occupy more of the morning, some painting and some colouring. This morning I had great fun letting out my inner child to play with paper aeroplanes – racing them across the room and taking it in turns to decorate the wings. After a simple pasta lunch (I’m in Italy, can you tell?) we play for the afternoon. I find myself astonished by the mind of children. Hide and seek has already become a fast favourite. Why, when I was given 5 seconds to hide, and he saw the direction I ran, did Fil proceed to search in the opposite direction? Or perhaps someone could explain why, when I shouted boo behind him then hid behind a wall, he turned around, then turned back and searched, once again, in the opposite direction. I don’t know… I don’t care really; the more important thing is that we both had great fun – even if it was cold and snowing. Snowing. SNOWING. I really desperately want snow, proper, snowmanable, snow. It’s certainly cold enough.

Playing games with children has driven home some self-truths. I’m not okay with letting children cheat at games. No Fil, you have to actually roll the binoculars to be able to steal my elephant. No Fil, you cannot just skip tiles just to land on the explorers. No Fil, you can’t take two animals at a time. I’m not about that. I probably should get over it but… I’m too competitive. I blame it on the 5 siblings thing. Another depressing thing is that I don’t actually know how to let children win. I think I might have broken Eli’s heart when I beat her at first Chinese checkers then Chess. Although I think I redeemed myself in dominoes when I kept on taking dominoes from the middle, without him noticing, when I ran out so as to stop myself from beating Fil every game… This is a learning experience for all of us I guess; Eli can learn how to be a tactician and I can learn how to go easy on someone less than half my age J

Oh, I still haven’t unpacked; I’m living out of a suitcase. At least I now have pictures of my friends surrounding me. And watching me sleep… (I have a few on my bedside table.) As soon as I upload this I’m going to hang up my wall calendar, stack up my books on the dressing table and take out my clothes and shoes. Straight away. Definitely. It’s not like I’m going to be hopping on a plane home any time soon, I really have no reason to delay unpacking…