Category Archives: Raising Ephia to become my friend

Florence, a city like no other..., Raising Ephia to become my friend, Stories from the crypt of life

Dear diary….

Dear diary I am tired. I spend my mornings sending out hundreds of emails and my evenings racing my fingers on the keyboard while listening to stories in my headphones. Every morning I wake up hoping that today’s sunshine will last longer, that I will find at least one reply to yesterday’s emails, that my stories aren’t boring, that this day will be better, that I will stop frowning at the computer. Hoping works.

Dear diary I burned my laptop the other day. I tried to be romantic and lit up a candle. Obviously romance sucks. Now I have to stare at alien lights on my screen because of the big round shaped burn smiling to me from the screen. My computer is still alive, but my romantic flame faded away.

Dear diary I am happy. Every morning I get unforgettable smiles from Ephia while she sits quietly at the table having breakfast. Every day at 1,30 pm we look for fish in the pond near her school. Sometimes we find them, sometimes they are sleeping. I still get a hug for the effort. Every afternoon we snuggle in bed and watch The little mermaid together. Lucky for me there is also Little mermaid II otherwise I would dream about the lines every night.  Dear diary being a mother is nothing like I thought it would be. Being someone’s mom is a privilege.

Dear diary I am restless. I wish I could have a magic wand to make everyone smile and look around them. People are busy, people are connected, people don’t look into each other’s eyes when they speak. Dear diary I wish everyone would get a hug from someone every single day. I am sure people would smile more. Life feels empty without hugs.

Dear diary I am a small ant that has elephant friends. My stories would be so boring without them in it. Dear diary I miss my friends. I miss having long coffee breaks on Friday afternoons. I miss finishing each other sentences. I miss feeling like an elephant for a couple of hours.

Dear diary tomorrow I will write some more; I will smile some more; I will watch some more cartoons and I will hug my daughter more. Dear diary I salute you.

Love,

Ela

Events, Raising Ephia to become my friend, Stories from the crypt of life

14 years later…

First day of high school. A lot of new faces, a lot of smiles and hand shakes. I sit in front of my classroom door thinking I do not want to step into this new world full of new acquaintances, new dramas, new friendships that will most likely end bad. I take a deep breath, put a fake smile on my face and open the door. Everyone is loud. All the teenagers inside look like displaced ants trying to bring out the best in themselves, to integrate, to not be the dumb one for the next four years. I don’t care. I choose the last bench and watch them struggle to impress. I see him. A dork, making mean jokes, the shortest boy in class, the only one not trying to impress. He is sitting proudly in the first row. For the next year and a half his last name annoyed me and his sight always made me mad.

Third year of high school. I step into a new classroom after a year of absence, making my way towards my desk-mate, a very classy and gallivant young lady. I sit down and notice a new face in front me: a tall, handsome boy with a great smile. My heart melts a little and I ask who is this new guy? The answer? The new guy was the dork from the first year; the mean, insufferable classmate. I start following him for year, learning his schedule, his place in each laboratory, his habits; when finally….

Last year of high school. The insufferable classmate that I now had to have was throwing a party for his birthday on December 6th. My friend and I spent the entire day thinking how to invite ourselves to the party. That was it! He was to be mine to kiss that night. Six hours later, holding a beautifully wrapped gift in my hand I was sitting in my friend’s living room repeating only two sentences over and over again: “Just one kiss. One kiss and then I will get over him.”

14 years later, after that kiss, after that night, the annoying classmate is sitting across me in our living room as my husband. 14 years later we have a three year old daughter that we can’t get enough of. 14 years later we remember how much we hated each other in that first year of high school and we burst into laughter every time.

From hell to heaven, from sorrow to happiness, from depression to tranquility, our 14 year old adventure continues, building new stories. 14 years later it feels like just one more kiss until the next one.

Buletin outside

365 days of my life, Raising Ephia to become my friend, Uncategorized

Day 334 – From ecstasy to joy and finally to despair

Today I have managed to get a job, to enjoy an afternoon with friends and to get my daughter to the emergency room. All in one day.

I woke up this morning and let me tell you the world looks different at 6 am. It’s really strange to see a seaside of humans in the tram or the bus, being very quiet and wobbling like penguins while waiting to get at their bus stop. Well my bus stop was far away, 50 minutes away, so by the end of my trip I was already exhausted. After being placed in a room with twenty other people waiting quietly to be called inside a small room, my senses have revived. Those people were my rivals and I needed to look awake and professional. After a ten minutes interview I left the room with a job in my hands. I couldn’t believe that sometimes all it takes is to have the right person in front of you for ten minutes. This is the ecstasy part of the day.

After that good news struck me, I hurried to pick up the photos from the exhibit Ephia was in last month. I was so excited to get the prints and hang them on our walls and also to have coffee with a friend which turned out to be coffee with two friends. 🙂 We talked, shared stories, wisdom, laughed while slowly roasting under the rays of sun. And this was the joyful part of the day.

I know you all want me to get to the tragedy part sooner. Well, the tragedy wasn’t that we went to the emergency room, but the experience I have had there. We went because her left arm was a little swollen and she showed signs of having severe pains at certain movements. When we got there we went through the normal triage process and off to the waiting room. Ephia was seen by a doctor who either didn’t like me just because or she had a really bad day and took it out on me. She was okay with my daughter but she treated me like a piece of crap. After blaming me for numerous, ridiculous things, she started telling me that she wants to do a maneuver on her that she herself doesn’t think it is necessary. At first I was confused, but later on I just got angry. Why aren’t doctors and teachers collaborating with parents and vice versa? Aren’t we suppose to support each other and not judging each other? Don’t we have the same goal that we need to focus on together instead of looking to blame each other? I am lost.

I refused the unnecessary procedure and waited for her X-rays. I didn’t even mind the wait at first, but I think 3 hours in the emergency room with a two year old is too much for anyone. And plus this woman has basically managed to make me feel like the worst mother in the world in just 20 minutes on the three different consults. We got home a little before midnight and although I am still angry and unsure about what happened, I am happy Ephia is fine and nothing has been broken.

This was the kind of day I had today. A incredible roller coaster that literally took my breath away.

365 days of my life, Raising Ephia to become my friend

Day 316 – Some motherly thoughts

My daughter is a cute midget who is growing up too fast. I sometimes am amazed of her progress and the choices she makes for herself.

For instance her language choice is at least weird when you hear about our situation. For almost half a year now, she only wants to speak English; maybe because all of our friends are English speaking people or because she hears me speaking English a lot throughout the day. She refuses to use Italian even though she understands it perfectly and sometimes she would grant a “Grazie” or “Ciao” to someone really special.

I avoid speaking to other mothers about the choices I make as a mother because at the end of the day we all judge each other and our choices as parents are mostly never understood. Let’s face it, our kid is the most important one and we all choose different ways of raising him/her that don’t necessarily apply for other parents. There are though some common rules that we all need to respect, but as I have seen here and in other countries there are always those parents who try and find excuses to go around them. The perfect example is taking your sick child to preschool anyway. I am terrified when I see that every time I have to teach a class in schools or preschools. I don’t understand why would someone torture their child and taking him/her to school when obviously he/she can barely stay awake and coughs all over the place. Also the healthy children become exposed to the virus and they too will eventually be sick and spread it further. Yes, I do know the common answer: “I have no one to leave him with.” or “He is not that sick, he only has a mild cough.” and I will say to that: Really?

First of all there are many families who have no help whatsoever with their children and still somehow, manage to do everything they have to do. We are one of those families and I would never take my daughter sick to school knowing that not only she will suffer because of it, but also the other children and teachers. Secondly, the “He is not that sick” excuse has trapped me into bed with a cold, many times this winter because they were coughing and sneezing in my face (a mild cough indeed) and in a week I had a fever. So, no, there are no excuses when it comes to health and this is just one of the many examples I see around me.

I am asked at least four times a week why isn’t my daughter going to asilo nido yet. Well, that is one of the reasons, I want to keep her healthy and safe for as long as I can. Although I am blamed for allowing her to spend more time with adults than with children and I have been told that this will impede her from making friends her age or being social later on, I ignore those advise because she has shown me in many situations that that is bullshit. I have also made a promise to myself that she will at least have 2 years at home with me and her father, like any child should in my opinion, before I send her off into the world. And she is only two (people often think she is 4 because she is so tall).

We have what seems a weird situation regarding language, opinions about raising a kid and her behavior, but that’s the thing, we all have that. We all have a what seems similar but totally different situation from the other person. We all see things differently from the outside and we all pretend to know what’s best for every one, but that’s so unfair and untrue. Just think about it, in the same second when you waste time judging some other parent’s choices, you are being judged by ten other parents too. Didn’t realize that, huh?

365 days of my life, Once upon a time when I was living in Bucharest..., Raising Ephia to become my friend

Day 294 – Spring is officially here!

I love the first day of March. It’s a special day for me ever since I was a kid. In my country, traditionally, everyone gives out a particular gift today, especially to girls. The gift consists in a small brooch, tied with a red and white string that you have to wear the entire month. Ten years ago I started taking off the brooch, but never stopped wearing the string on my wrist.

This is one of those days when I really miss being in Bucharest. Everyone is smiling, every women is holding huge flower bouquets, you can buy snowdrops from any corner of the street, there are fairs everywhere and red and white is the predominant color. Oh, boy, do I miss snowdrops. They are my favorite flowers in the world, the only flower that can make me dream and stand still for hours, just admiring it. I don’t get to enjoy snowdrops here and no one wears a red and white string on their wrist, which kind of makes me a freak when I go out on the 1st of March and smile, showing off my string to anyone I encounter.

Today I compensated the lack of snowdrops with a great outing with Ephia. She is going to be one of the stars in an photo exhibit soon (details coming up), so today she had a lot of fun playing while her picture was being taken and I was enjoying a nice cappuccino in excellent company. Even the sun came out to salute us for a couple of hours, so I guess March will be a good month this year.

These being said, may you all have a fairy-tale kind of spring, surrounded by lots of smiles, hugs and many, many flowers. Happy 1st of March everyone!!!!!

365 days of my life, Florence, a city like no other..., Raising Ephia to become my friend

Day 284 – 6 things I love about Florence

I fell in love with Florence long before I became one of its residents. In time my reasons have changed and the touristy ones are long gone and left behind now. So, how does Florence manage to keep us trapped into its spiderwebs? These are six of my reasons:

1. In less than a month you are already experiencing Florentine feelings. Every single expat friend I have talked to has told me how much they hate the tourist flow here which is hilarious because all of us used to be just that: tourists. It’s funny how this city has a way of grabbing you as a resident, making you forget about your initial status. And yes, Florentine people are not that thrilled about tourists and I can imagine why: they are everywhere and you have to constantly watch out not to bump into their lenses or show up in one of their pictures posted on Facebook from their vacation.

2. The food. Before coming here spices and different tastes were not my thing. I had to play it safe and consume only the things I loved, never having the desire to try new things. Although I loved pasta before, I never knew you can cook them in so many combinations and to tell you the truth I only knew how to make two pasta dishes and they weren’t even close to the original ones. Ever since I moved to Florence I feel like I am on a constant tasting carousel that seems to never end.

3. Cappuccino. As I said on many occasions I am not a big fan of coffee. I am not your regular kind of coffee drinker and I can go on for days without having one. Many years ago I used to annoy all my friends, calling them to go out for coffee and ending up with me having a smoothie. Cappuccino though is one of my small vices. I never waste a walk downtown without having one and now I feel like there is nothing better than sitting somewhere outside alone, admiring the surroundings and having a cappuccino in my hand. Also I love to annoy the Italians and committing the sin of having a cappuccino in the evening. Their face is priceless.

4. The endless source of inspiration. Back home I used to hide in parks to create a quiet corner where I could think about my topics and characters. Life in Bucharest is a constant buzzing and although it’s wonderful and sometimes I miss it, that constant buzz doesn’t let you breath. In Florence I can be anywhere and come up with a new story. When I take strolls around the neighborhood and I see the people interacting and smiling all the time, when I go downtown and my mouth wideness at some monument I have seen a thousand times before, but still looks new to me, when I meet my fellow writers and we talk for hours in a row about our passion. Florence has given me all of that.

5. Palazzo Vecchio. Palazzo Vecchio is an old friend of mine. I like to think that we are in a relationship for more than ten years now. That mastodon of bricks is one of the reasons I had to make Florence my home and probably why, if life will lead me to another part of the world, I would still keep coming back to see it. Maybe it’s because this palace is the only thing that can keep me still for hours in a row, just looking at it, being completely fascinated, even being able to ignore the hundreds of tourists passing me every minute.

6. My daughter. For me this will always be a place I will call home because of Ephia. This is her place of birth and probably the place she will always identify with the most while growing up. In some weird way Florence has gave me my daughter and this new life and I am almost sure that she would have never existed if we wouldn’t have made this city our home.

My list can go on for pages because Florence has made me change my entire life and start all over again from scratch and I will always love this city because of that. Should I also make a list about the things I hate here? No, no one wants to hear bad things about Florence. Or, maybe…

365 days of my life, Raising Ephia to become my friend

Day 282 – Toddlers and their ways

Today my daughter decided that it’s pointless to take a nap. My first thought: “There goes my work schedule.” as I always use those two hours to try and get things done. Instead of panicking, I took her out of bed and took her into mine. I figured if she doesn’t want to do something it’s fine as long as she plays quietly in my bed while I work.

Toddlers have their own way of doing things and you can fight them, but the only thing you will accomplish is a lot of dead neurons and stretched nerves. I used to be like that. She used to drive me nuts when she didn’t want to eat. She used to keep her food in her mouth for minutes in a row, refusing to swallow, until smoke came out of my ears like you see in cartoons. Of course I would raise my voice, of course I would want to shove that food down her throat and of course the only one who suffered in the end was me: I was the one regretting for raising my voice at her for nothing and I was the one who wasted our time together just because she didn’t feel like eating that second. In time I got better and  understood it was pointless and that you can never win a battle against a toddler. Their habits constantly change and you forget about all that pain you used to go through congratulating yourself that you remained calm.

Now Ephia’s not eating phase returned and I am discovering a saner and much calmer person inside myself. Instead of getting mad I just let her be and after a while she comes asking for food. Instead of raising my voice I smile and ask if she is hungry and if she says no I remove the plate and let her play. I feel much better, she feels much better and we can smile at each other without feeling any remorse: she because she didn’t upset her mom again and I… well, I because I don’t get angry anymore.

As I am writing this with a funny Donald Duck hat placed by Ephia on my head, she is looking into the screen and sings to me while stroking my hair. You tell me, how can I get mad about that?

365 days of my life, Raising Ephia to become my friend

Day 280 – Documentaries freak

Documentaries, welcome back into my life! Why have I ever let you go? I’ve missed you so much, please stay forever!

To explain myself. I used to be a documentary freak. Back home our TV was always on National Geographic Wild or on one of the many Discovery Channels. I devoured them, went to bed watching, woke up in the morning and watched them again. At some point I had memorized all the documentaries on those channels so I took a step back to give them a chance to introduce new ones. They never did and occasionally when a new one would come out they would replay it over and over again, so I gave up watching them completely. It never crossed my mind to search for new ones on the Internet. Moving to a new country, adjusting to a new lifestyle, job, friends and so on, blocked the desire to sit back and enjoy a nice documentary about anything (well, not anything, but almost).

Yesterday, I had a terrible headache and Ephia was trying to get me to play with her. Because we don’t have much time to spend together on Saturdays, I hardly ever have the heart to say no to her so I started thinking: what can we do together that doesn’t require to much movement from my part? Penguins! That’s right, penguins. Ephia loves penguins and I thought why not watch a penguin documentary? We did and it was a complete success. She was having a wonderful time explaining to me what she understood from the images she was watching and I, a terrible mom who let’s her kid watch TV, could spend some time with her, have some fun, forget about my headache and fall in love with documentaries all over again.

So, now I am hooked again. If any of you have some great documentaries to recommend, don’t forget to buzz my virtual doors and tell me all about them. These being said tonight we are watching pandas. Actually I do most of the watching, Ephia is pushing her shopping cart around the house and from time to time she looks into the screen and says: “Uuu, cute!”.

365 days of my life, Raising Ephia to become my friend

Day 262 – Motherly thoughts

I always go on and on about children being individuals and not our property. But today isn’t about that, it’s about respect. The new theories about parenting say you should not punish your child in any way, but in the same time they talk about discipline.

I must say I am against any kind of punishment, but I do believe in time-outs. Sometimes we need a break from each other, the same way adults need a break from one another. Our daughter, like any kid who has never been severely punished, treats us like slaves sometimes and she even tries to manipulate us making a sad little face or trying to manufacture tears if we don’t comply. Depending on what she wants to do with us we find it funny or try to explain to her that we are more than her toys. It usually doesn’t work. I know respect sounds like a big word for her age, but our goal is to achieve mutual respect. We respect her, so she must find a way to understand that and respect us. Of course usually any kind of argument fails and she grabs the nearest thing, or something I really love and smashes it into the wall or on the floor. Well, that’s when I think we need that time-out, so I take her hand into mine and take her to her room to stay there for a few minutes (five minutes tops). She protests while going towards the room, but never cries while she is in there. In fact, what she does is: makes herself comfortable on the couch and browses one of her books until I come and get her. I probably should mention that the door isn’t locked and she can open it by herself if she wants. After five minutes I knock on the door and she greets me with the biggest smile, gives me a hug and lets me know that she understands why it was wrong to do what she did.

Now, there are two types of judgmental mothers who disagree with my method.

1. Moms who embrace the new theories say that taking your kid into his room after doing something wrong and leaving him there by himself counts as abandonment in your child’s eyes. I agree and disagree with their point of view. If my daughter would start crying and her frustration from before would only get worse because of me leaving her alone in the room, yes, then it would be totally wrong to do that. But, she doesn’t. We both enjoy our time-out and for those five minutes we miss each other and understand that what happened was just an outburst for which maybe we both feel sorry for. So, no, I am not recommending to leave your child by himself if that will hurt his feelings; also if the child gets more hurt he will never understand why that happened in the first place. I think everyone should find their own way for a time-out because believe it or not every child is different, so in my book general opinions are just bullshit.

2. Moms who totally agree with what I did, but who can’t understand why when I go to her I pretend everything is fine again. In their opinion I should show her that I am still upset and force her to apologize. That’s another thing I don’t understand. Well, if we both had some minutes to calm down, why should I start again something that has already been consummated. By sending her to her room I already made a statement that she understands, so why should I still be upset with her if the only thing we want to do is smile and hug each other again?

I for one know that my beliefs about raising a child are different than most mothers and frankly that doesn’t bother me one bit. As long as me and my daughter are both happy, as long as I don’t read fear into her eyes thinking that I am going to punish her, as long as she shows me that she needed that break too, but she didn’t know how to tell me otherwise, I really don’t care about outside opinions. In my book, general theories and unasked for advice is just an impediment to create your own unique relationship with your child. Every child is different, every mother is different and nothing can prove otherwise. So here is an unasked for advice from me: be happy, hug each other and don’t force your kid into doing anything. Most probably he will thank you for that later.

365 days of my life, Raising Ephia to become my friend

Day 249 – Diary entry, dialogue, Ephia

10 am. I have some free time today. I just need to plan my lesson for tonight and that’s it. I should enjoy it, the weekend looks like it’s going to be awfully busy. 

Ephia is in her bed, playing with a pillow, waiting for me to show up. I always start with a song that makes us both laugh: Good morning, good morning/ Good morning to you./ Good morning mister rooster,/ Cock-a-doodle-doo!!!! It can go on like this for several minutes while she smiles at me and tries to say good morning back (ud moning mistel lustel). Giving that I am not a morning person, singing in the morning is like someone hitting me with a baseball bat, but her smile is worth it.

11 am. The house is quiet. D and Ephia are outside, wandering the streets of the neighborhood or torturing the slides from the park. I start planning my lesson and have time for some house chores. I need a coffeeI should get dressed and go grab a coffee while making a phone call to hear a friendly voice. I arrive at the bar with the phone attached to my ear, smiling and trying to order a cappuccino. The bartender gives me a funny look and jokes around because he can’t understand a word I am saying. After drawing a No phones allowed sign on my coffee, he kindly takes out a table and a chair for me to stay outside and enjoy my conversation.

1 pm. I get annoyed by the latest news that I am hearing at the radio while cooking lunch. I prefer to be ignorant these days and refuse to know about any kind of violence that the human kind practice. I turn off the radio and think about motherhood. Thousand of contradictory thoughts come into mind and I shake them away. I think about writers. Even worse. I think about Ephia. My eyes smile and my mouth approves.

2,30 pm. After lunch Ephia takes my hand and we practice our knowledge about shapes. At first I have to match them and she pushes them inside Pow!!!!. After a while she gains a little confidence and tries to match them herself. I disappear from the room for a second and when I come back I find her in her own chair. She climbed a chair, over the table and into her own high chair. Good to know we are making progress. We have ourselves a little climber on our hands.

4 pm. The house is quiet again. I feel the touch of pain over my body, but I don’t really care about it. The cat is pushing my nerves, pacing the hallway, over and over again. I retreat into my own bed. Maybe for an hour, maybe until the pain gives in, maybe just for two minutes. I am the product of my own days. Shh!