Thursday, March 30, 2006

"Hola" from Gan Canaria: Milo learns some Spanish

We have been on a very much needed and yet "eventful" holiday trip in warm Gran Canaria, about which I will write in detail next week. Just a quick blurb to record Milo's fast uptake of a few Spanish words: he greets everyone politely by saying HI or GOOD BYE ("Hola!", " Adios!"). And he is very aware of the compliments ("Que guapo") he gets from the very sweet and charismatic Spanish people we have been running into: "Guapo, guapo" he has been saying yesterday! His dad, initially convinced they were talking about him, is starting to get jealous!

Milo has been sick almost all last week, which made his verbal communications regressing a little and restrincting to tantrums, screaming and antichrist imitations at random hours of the day or of the night...but this week he´s much better, luckily, and catching up and recuperating fast. He´s finally making little sentences:

"Auto papa" (are we taking papa´s car?)
"Bimbo parti?" (is the kid gone?)
"Caduto per terra" (it fell on the floor)
" Via tutti!" (all gone, when throwing pebbles in the ocean)

Amazingly, he has been asking daily about his parisian friends: his nanny, his friend Antoine and other little friends he sees regularly. As if he wants to be reassured he wil see them again.

The multiple linguistic identity of words is becoming more clear and fluid by the day: we keep naming objects and things and we ask him: How does papa call that? How does mama say? And he replies correctly with the Italian , Dutch or French version of items.

And on a final note, English, which until now has been totally passive for him, starts creeping up!
He imitates us having arguments and he distinctly ends the phrases by saying" OK? OK?" (he actually pronounces it ooh-thei!), and last night when daddy asked him if he was ready to go to bed, he replied: " Yes!"

That´s all for now, gotta scoot to the pool and store some sunshine in my bones before we head back in tumultuous Paris...adios!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"Choosing a multilingual-baby name": the first Eurapsody column

Starting this month, I'll be contributing a monthly column called Eurapsody at the Bilingual/Bicultural Family Network (BBFN). It's one of the most dynamic and fun reading community sites for families dealing with multilingualism and multiculturalism.

Founded and heralded in Seattle by a very inspired woman named Corey Heller, the site is developing fast and includes contributors from several parts of the world.

The first piece concernes 8 useful tips while choosing the name for your future multilingual child!

Other clever columns include Multicultural Melange by Alice , on raising her children trilingually, as well as One Family, One Language by Lilian.

Make sure you sign up for the monthly newsletter, so you can be regularly multiculturally informed!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Winter shaking strategies: a view on Paris from above

"Il pleut!" (It's raining) says Milo every morning, even though in the last few days the sunshine has finally conceded itself, after an eternity of cloudy and grey skies. It is still freezing cold, I guess that's what Milo means. We are all bummed and smitten by this everlasting winter. Running noses, frozen thoughts, contracted muscles...

Today I was determined to shake the winter off! When I used to live in Rome, there were many spots I loved to climb to from which one could enjoy a mesmerizing view of the Eternal city. Paris is quite flat and, apart from the Eiffel Tower, the Tour de Montparnasse and Montmartre, there aren't many places offering a view. I found a special one right by my office: at lunch time I went on a balloon trip, raising at 150 mt high (the Eiffel tower is 324 mt or 1058 ft tall). I enjoyed a breathtaking 360° aerial view of Paris from the south west. The air was still uncozily cold, but the view gave it all another dimension. Seeing the earth from up above should be mandatory for everyone, at least once in a lifetime. It is such a humbling and inebriating experience. We are concretely reminded of how infinitesimally small we are, and in a place like this, that we are surrounded by so much life and diversity.

I spotted a typically French protest in front of the France Television headquarters, the national broadcaster; I admired the green muddy Seine waters, lulling a few commercial boats used to transport building material along the quais; the cupola of Les Invalides (Napoleon's burying site) was shining at a distance; La Defense, the modern high-rises financial district, emerged behind the Bois de Boulogne, amistd a hazinesss probably due to the pollution. I felt like being back in Paris again, even though I've been here for the last few months non-stop (...stranded in the office or at the apartment).

The balloon ride was short and smooth; the ascension proceeds at 1 meter per second and it feels in reality much slower, as the panorama unveils beneath our eyes.
I asked the "pilot" if there was a minimal age for kids, and there isn't. He said that often the small ones are disappointed because the balloon ascends and descends vertically and does not move around enough! I will have to take Milo on a warmer and sunny day later this spring, and see if it is true...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Daddy took the plane

"Il est parti Papá?" (Did Daddy leave?) asked me (in French) Milo yesterday morning upon waking up, and noticing his Dad was not around.

"Yes, sweetie, Dad left really early...he took the airplane to go in another city, for work" I replied (in Italian).

"Partito" (gone) he repeated (in Italian). And then added: "Papá aereo" (Dad airplane).

So we sat at his little blue table and I drew an airplane for him, which he colored enthusiastycally; I drew a smily face in one of the windows, and told him that there was his dad.

Shortly later, when the nanny arrived, he took her by the hand and brought her over to the drawing, pointing with his little finger at it:"
"Papá avion! papá avion"he told her (in French).

Last night at sleeping time he wanted to bring the drawing to bed with him. Before turning off the light he looked at the airplane one more time and he screamed, waving his hand:
"Ciao, ciao Papá!!".

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

International Women's Day

March has always been my favourite month: March is impregnated of fresh scents like the first crocuses and violets blooming through the last poodles of snow; March has a sparkling sweet wind blowing all along, preluding the arrival of spring; and March celebrates the International Women's Day! In Italy and several other countries it is tradition to offer a branch of mimosas to women: for a day schools, homes, shops, offices are brightened by these happy yellow dots!

Did you know that "the first IWD was held on 19 March 1911 in Germany, Austria, Denmark and further European countries; German women selected this date because in 1848 the Prussian king had promised the vote for women"?

I didn't, until I bumped into the IWD home site. Today is not just an excuse to get flowers and gifts; today is a day we should take the time to ponder how far women have made it thanks to the determination and the will of some great women in the past, and how much there is still to be done to reach a true equality in society.

So this post is dedicated to all the phenomenal women I know and have crossed my life, those who have inspired me in history, and those who I have been fortunate to meet through this blog!

To Ajenji, Agnes, Alessandra, Alice, Amy, Ana, Andrea, Anna, Anna Marie, Corey, Biba, Dalian, Deirdre, Ellen, Francesca, Giulia, Grandma, Hanne, Janet, Jenny, Laura, Lilian, Lisa, Luisella, Mai, Marianne, Maurizia, Monica, Mum, Nancy, Petra, Pat, Piera, Ruth, Sandrine, Saskia, Sebla, Sevgi, Silvia, Susanne, Tamou, Tori, Virna.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Choosing a last name for your French baby!

In most countries a legitimate child still takes the father's last name . France took a huge leap forward on January 1, 2005 (joining the already progressive Germany and Denmark) by passing a law which allows parents to choose for their children among the father's and the mother’s last name, or even to give both of them, in whichever order they prefer!

This beats the already forward Spanish system, where everyone carries both last names, but it is the father’s last name that’s transmitted to the descendants.

Only in case of disagreement between the parents, the father’s name will prevail. And, whatever has been chosen for the first child, will apply to all the other siblings.

As a mum, I find this change very gratifying. As an Italian mum, I find it even more democratic and equalizing (in my home country the patriarchal leverage still reigns). So it is not just up to my brother to ensure that the family name will continue existing, I can have that perpetrating role too, for at least the space of one generation. It’s amazing how strongly we are conditioned otherwise, in this sense: I was explaining this to my mum and was telling her that I was considering adding my last name to my son. And I said “It makes even more sense, since I’ll have two boys!” And suddenly realized that it would have made exactly the same sense if I had girls! Shame on me…

This new exciting measure comes with a quite whimsical aftermath, check this out:
When choosing the double names option, the last names will be separated by a double dash (--), to avoid confusion with double last names pre-existing the law (which are still quite frequent in France).

So, in concrete terms, for the first generation there are 4 simple options:

Mr. Martin and Madame Dupont have a child, Pascal. They have the four following options:

  • Pascal Martin
  • Pascal Dupont
  • Pascal Martin -- Dupont
  • Pascal Dupont -- Martin

But what will happen when the second generation will procreate?

If Pascal Dupont--Martin meets Mademoiselle Sylvie DUCHAMPS -- DUBOIS de LACIME, their child will have no less than 14 probabilities:


Certainly, carrying out genealogic researches in a few centuries will be no fun, however by then mega databases will be available and search engines as we know them will be a vague souvenir.

This feels like real progress to me! For once, let me proclaim "Vive la France!"

Multilingual Olympic Medal

The Olympic flame estinguished on Sunday night after two exctiting weeks, but the competitive spirit remains alive! In all honesty, we did not achieve ALL the goals we had set for ourselves, but the most important thing is that Milo's lingusitic development has literally exploded, and he has learnt an impressive amount of vocabulary in the past two weeks!

New words in Italian: libro (book), cucchiaio (spoon), pepipio (for pper favore, please), cacincia (for calzina, little sock), pacincia (for patatina, chip), blu, osso (for rosso, red) giao (for giallo, yellow), tappo (hood), amone (for amore, love), attento (be careful), letto (bed), iso (for riso, rice), etc.

Dutch: dicht (closed) , tekenen (to draw), ja (yes), ne (no), cadeautje (little present), etc.

French: bateaux (boat), train, pompier (fire man), parti (gone), pantalon (trousers), poussette (stroller), main (hand), pied (foot), tete (head) and more.

This morning while we were all getting ready he uttered his first mixed phrase , in Italian and Dutch: "Acqua piú...deur dicht!" (=no more water..the door is closed).

This medal is for you, Milo!