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19 September 2010

The importance of being a parent

As Ali completed her first week of elementary school, I'm settling into this new routine and trying to set up a smooth timetable enjoyable for the both of us. The biggest changeling for me is preparing healthy meals for lunch. I hadn't cooked at lunch for ages, with Al eating at the canteen at work and later Alice out in kindergarten. And for me, I ate sandiwches or salads most of the times. Cooking means daily grocery shopping around the neighborhood rather than fun trips to supermarkets. Fortunately, there's a latteria just around the corner, where I can pick up last minute essentials.

The positive thing is that I don't have to drive my car so often, thus I'm forced to walk more. Sometimes I don't touch my car for days, which is quite a new thing. I was used to lots of driving in these past 3 years. Driving to and from kinder, driving to malls, to parks. Nearly everywhere.

The negative thing is that, by changing school district, we've to make new friends all over again. And social time is all to reinvent. I miss my daily breakfast with other moms at the cafe, the occasional strolls we had, and all the talking during our children playdates. I guess it'll take time to recreate that nice atmosphere here. But well, I've to take it as it comes. No alternative left.

So this is what I came up with so far. I pick Ali up, she plays in her room while I cook and then when lunch is served, we sit and eat together. I talk with her about current issues, after reading her articles from magazines. I think this is an important aspect for her to learn, it helps developing self-confidence and makes her highly opinionated. I love the way she looks at the world. It's brilliant.

"So Ali, do you know Italy scored last place in statistics? We don't have good education, health system, economic grotwth and neither sane politics."
"That's not true, I was treated well everytime I went to the hospital! And I love my school."
"Good. So what do u think doesn't work in our country?"
"Factories. Every time we drive near them it's so smelling! Bleah!"

She also thinks that Ryan Air should never allow to cut off one of the pilots on its planes to reduce costs.  "What if the pilot needs to go to the loo then?" she worried. If only Ryan Air paid her a disgracefully large wage packet for her common sense!

After lunch, she plays another bit while I do the washing up and then it's time for homeworks. This is a crucial time because, as the handbook points out, we know that children who spend more time on homework, on average, do better in school, and that the academic benefits increase as children move into the upper grades. But also, homeworks help teach the most important lesson of all, that learning can be fun and is well worth the effort. I want to encourage her lifelong love of learning. And since she's only just starting, I want her to develop the habits and attitudes now, even if the amount of assignments is small.  

When she's finished with homeworks, we usually make crafts together. Inspiration comes from online sources (there're lots of cool sites out there) or Art Attack episodes. I want to keep nurturing her creativity, she was used to lots of activities in preschool (what a happy island for her!), so we work on several creative projects together. 

We open a book after our art session. I read her every day. To me, it's the most important minutes of the day. She's not new to this, of course. We have books, newspapers and magazines around our house, and our child sees us reading, so she already knows the value of reading very well. 

And finally, she's also allowed to watch cartoons (or a DVD), for about an hour. The ones on Sky channels are pretty construnctive, especially Litte Einsteins or Wonder Pets, but also Dora the Explorer and Diego. When Al gets back home from worh they play together while I prepare dinner. We then eat together, plays a bit more and then off to bed, with another bedtime story, of course.

She'll soon start ballet classes and the lab class one afternoon a week. We'll also visit the park quite a bit. New life, new adventures. Important is always sticking to the master plan. organizing everything in advance. And of course sometimes laziness is allowed too. I'm raising human beings, not robots! What the heck!

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