Sunday, 30 September 2012

Tooth fairies and the art of lying to children

Yesterday, Eve’s third tooth fell out. She dealt with it all in a particularly dramatic way, with lots of screaming.  ‘I can feel it, I can feel it!! Look it’s dangling. What am I going to do? Help! Oh no, it’s coming look. Aghghghghgh!’
‘Eve, relax. It’s a tooth, you’re not having a baby!’ I shouted, in my usual calm way. (I’ve been getting my parenting strategies really sorted recently)
The minute it was out she was all smiles of triumph as though she’d done something to be proud of.  And then asked,
‘Where shall I put it so that the tooth mouse sees it?’

TOOTH MOUSE? Unfortunately yes! In Italy they don’t have the tooth fairy who flies gently through the air collecting pearly white teeth for the fairy queen’s necklace … they have a mouse.
How gross is that?!?
Well actually it doesn’t crawl under your pillow to get the tooth but just sneaks in through the window. You leave your tooth on a little plate and hope to find money there the next morning.
Eve had a few issues with the idea and obviously wanted to get to the heart of the matter.
‘Where does the mouse live? How does he know my tooth has fallen out? Does he give all the children the same money or do the rich children get more? What is he going to do with the tooth? Has he got a little bag to put them all in and does he do them all in the same night?? How does he know how much money to take with him each night  and why does he want my teeth exactly???’

Hey, don’t look at me. I only knew the tooth fairy and even that was a bit of a tenuous relationship. Ask your dad. He’s Italian.
Marco shrugs his shoulders and gives some sort of quasi-mysticexplanation which makes the tooth mouse sound a cross between a divine being and Santa’s top elf.

Why do they have a tooth mousefor goodness sakes … but, on the other hand, how did the tooth fairy come into it??

I know we’ve all grown up with Father Christmas and tooth fairies and have survived all the various related traumas but I just can’t tell silly lies. When Eve asks me ‘Does Father Christmas really exist Mummy?’ I give her some kind of wishy-washy answer like ‘Well Eve, lots of people think he does but others don’t really believe it. There are lots of legends but nobody really knows.’
‘Yes, but what do you think?’ (And there’s me thinking I was going to get away with it)

And as for the tooth mouse questions, I really don’t know what to say at all.

‘But Mummy… do you think the tooth mouse knows the tooth fairy and that they share the teeth? Maybe the tooth mouse sells them to the tooth fairy and she makes lots of money out of it? Do you think that they both speak the same language? The mouse speaks Italian and the fairy speaks English so how do they know what to say?’

When I told Eve I didn’t know the answers to her questions she suggested looking it up on Face Book. (She hasn’t quite got the distinction between Internet and FB sorted yet)
Why not?
So, this is an appeal to the Tooth Mouse if he (or indeed she) is out there and reading my blog… can we become FB friends and then I can pass you directly onto Eve and you can sort it out between you.
The question I want to know is how much a tooth is worth these days??

Saturday, 29 September 2012

29th September

Most Italians recognise this date as the title of a famous  Lucio Battisti song  ‘29 settembre’. For others, it has its own special significance being Berlusconi’s birthday (born in Milan 1936). It is also my wedding anniversary. 5 years ago me and Marco and Eve got married.

In May we found a nice place to have the reception, invited the people we wanted and then forgot all about it… Did not want to be stressed.

It was about 4 weeks before the wedding when Marco said to me, ‘So, have you got something to wear? Have you got a dress?’
‘Dress?! Yes, Right…No!!’ I hadn’t even thought about it.

I’d also completely forgotten about organising a bouquet and woke up the morning of my wedding with no flowers. Luckily my neighbour had given me a bunch of roses the evening before so I grabbed some of those, cut off a few olive branches from the garden and tied the whole lot up with string.

I went to the hairdressers at 9 o’clock that morning and said, ‘Can you do me something for a wedding.’
‘Oh that’s nice, who’s getting married?’
‘Me!’ The hairdresser rolled her eyes and sighed. Apparently you’re supposed to do trials and makeup and hair accessories and all that. Pazienza!

But I arrived at the church feeling so relaxed and unstressed (funny dress and hair but I survived that too). Marco had turned up, Eve was there looking like a frilly little ballerina, my little niece and nephew were looking lovely too. Everyone was happy, my lovely friends had decorated the church and were ready to sing for us and our very great friend Bishop Eric was there to do the deed.

It wasn’t until after the service that I realised two friends who’d come from England were missing and had obviously got lost on their way from the hotel to the church. Whilst everyone moved on to the reception Marco, Eve and I (still in silly dress) drove to their hotel to pick them up. We didn’t realise until we got there that another disaster had happened. My mother-in-law (I’m sure as some kind of twisted vendetta for having married her son J) had gone off with ONJI in her pocket.

Now those of you who don’t know Eve very well won’t necessarily know what ONJI is and how completely essential he/she is to her whole being. Some children have a favourite teddy, some have a little comfort blanket. Eve had an orange table napkin(long story)which became her best friend when she was a few months old. She is devoted to it and cannot live without it. My mother-in-law had been looking after Eve during the service had put ONJI in her handbag and then gone off afterwards without giving it back.

So there we were, squashed in the back of the car whilst poor Eve was having convulsions. She was 17 months old, very cute but particularly bad tempered. My lovely white dress was being covered with little black footprints as she kicked and struggled and screamed for ONJI. When we arrived near the part in the old town where are reception was Marco parked the car and decided for some reason that I never really understood (must have been our first argument as a married couple) that he and our two friends would go on ahead whilst I walked with Eve. It was quite a steep old cobbled street and they quickly disappeared leaving me to deal with my daughter.

Picture the scene: Saturday afternoon in old town Genoa,  a 40 year old woman struggling up a steep cobbled lane in silly shoes, hitching up a ridiculous white dress with one hand whilst trying to contain a struggling screaming infant who she’s got shoved under the other. 

I finally arrived... the last one to arrive at my party, with a dirty dress, sweating, cursing and determined to get revenge on my mother in law. 

ONJI was promptly recuperated and all was well.

Moral to the story: have children before you get married or, alternatively, don't invite them to the wedding. 

On a lighter note, I'd like to wish Berlusconi many happy returns of the day… 76 years old and still going strong…I'm sure he's had a nice day . He has a certain talent at organising parties and I’m sure he wouldn’t have let his birthday slip by without a bit of a do. 

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Harem's back in town...

My poor blog has been abandoned for about a year now, having started off life as a self-indulgent moan about the Berlusconi regime… which also finished about a year ago. “No Harem… no blog!” you say.
Not completely true… and unfortunately the harem is still out there.

The main reason I haven’t written is that Google did the dirty on me: something very cunning and sly changed on my computer, and I didn’t know how to get back into the blog again. Futile attempts at ownership just resulted in funny messages in computer language that I didn’t understand. A cleverer person than I would have just pressed the right buttons, but I’ve never been any good with buttons!

I know everyone knows all there is to know about computers. Except me. I still don’t have a telephone that takes photos, don’t know how Skype works, have never copied a CD, never downloaded music from anywhere, still don’t know the difference between an Ipad, a kindle and a tablet and wouldn’t even recognise an MP3 if I tripped over it in the street.

However... When my computer came back from the hospital last month after having emergency surgery lots of things had changed. For equally unknown reasons I am now the owner of Tales From The Harem again.
Will there be anything to write about though? :)

This has got nothing to do with anything really but I have recently discovered I was a pirate in a past life. Explains lots of cut throat attitudes I have and why I like Jamaican rum.

Might tell you about it in my next post.