Monday, 15 January 2007

A usual lesson

We have to face it. Some lessons do not work. Not the lessons I'm running: I know they don't work. It's the lessons we attend. They don't work either.

Take Italian. Now we love Italian. The children have visited Italy twice and I've done the whole Michel Thomas thing, which you can take as proof of our commitment. And we simply have to learn some Italian, so we can talk to beautiful Zia and beautiful Luna. But the lessons, they just aren't working for us.

First we have to get out the door on a Monday morning for a half-hour drive. Tiger doesn't want to go. She doesn't read well and teech wipes everything from the board before she's copied it down. That's put her off. Then there's Squirrel who says she wants to go, but hums through most of the lesson. Shark suffers it because an Italian gentleman is on her marriage list. Poor fella. He's probably in a Milan suburb now, aged 6 and a half, playing with his trains. In fifteen years time Shark will get hold of him, whether he likes it or not.

When it's time to put on shoes and coats, it's the usual. I don't know Tiger's locked herself in the bathroom, I think the door is stuck, and slam it open with great force. This sends Tiger headlong to the radiator where she bangs her nose. I say to the now-weeping Tiger that she can stay at home but she must do some writing while we're gone. Squirrel's already out the door in a tee-shirt and socks so I stuff shoes and clothes in a Tesco carrier bag and point her in the direction of the car. As I'm hurtling around the house looking for Dig's keys and my glasses I trap my finger in the door. We're already late, my finger's blistering and Shark, upset about some crime I've inadvertently committed, stubbornly blocks the hallway in front of me. I'm not nice. I give her a poke in the back of the anorak. She dramatically throws herself to the floor, screaming, so I have to stride over her. We're all shouting, as usual, and by the time Shark's in the car we're 15 minutes late, as usual.

When we get to the lesson we're 5 minutes late. I park by the emergency stop method, cram a £2 coin into the parking meter because I've never got a 20 pence, and we all run off down the street. I'm not confessing to Dig that I routinely forget to lock the car doors, or sometimes to close them.

Inside, the toddlers are all over the floor, alternately howling and squealing and shaking the tables while they're crawling about underneath looking for legs to hang onto; someone's scribbled a picture of what looks like a map of a motorway service area on the wall outside which will get the complaint letters flying again, and there's nowhere for us to sit.

When we've finished with our personal style of disruption and the shrieks have died down from the corridor outside, the lesson begins. Squirrel instinctively starts to hum. We've locked ourselves in at the front now, and I'm rather glad Tiger's nursing her nose at home. I whisper 'ascolti!' with an exaggerated shushing sound to Squirrel, partly because I like to show off and partly because I think teech might forgive us if I show I'm on her side. She doesn't hear anyway. I suspect she may be deaf.

When it gets to the singing bit Shark sings 'la la la la' in a very loud voice with no attempt at any Italian at all. When it's the 'time to speak to your neighbour' bit, Squirrel goes bright red and buries her face in my armpit. I'm glad Tiger's not here. She fixes teech with her steely eyes, and growls.

Teech is very nice and understanding throughout all the toddler screaming, the comings and goings to the toilets, the misunderstandings between the English and the Italian, Shark's la la la and Squirrel's humming. She's even nice when one parent breaks down sobbing. I'm going to miss teech. Because sadly we can't go back. We have to study Italian at home for now. The stress, the chaos, the noise, the twenty pounds in parking meter fees, the middle of the day sucked away in a frantic drive there and back. We have to find an easier way. Now does anyone speak Italian near us?

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Thank you for reminding me why we didn't enjoy Italian! Must contact my local Italian lady my French friend gave me the contact details for back in November . . .