Two things happened to me today. Firstly, a nine year old Italian girl handed me a Kleenex after we had hiked a hill, up to where I would be teaching her that day. She (essentially) said, in Italian, “You’re a hot mess. Wipe your dirty, sweating forehead you disgustingly unfit English woman.” Being reprimanded by a kid who doesn’t even have grown-up teeth yet is pretty hard going before 10 am. And I’m quite sure she snapped her fingers at me after she had said it. Like, bitch please.
Secondly, Mama text. “Stop using the word vagina on internet. Potty mouth.” So this next sentence is for you, Jane. VAGINA.
And thus Italian life has begun. I’m not in Rome yet- that’s all happening in September. For now I’m back in northern Italy, both losing my own dignity by shaking my arse at a bunch of pre-pubescent attitude-fuelled primadonnas (and that is just the boys) at English camps in various locations, and teaching others how to lose their dignity by shaking their arse at a bunch of pre-pubescent attitude-fuelled primadonnas at various locations.
I swore I’d never return after last summer. Mainly because Italians are fucking weird. Case in point: today. 50 kids were entertained and sung to and high-fived and generally everything but blown and arse wiped by me and the team of English tutors I’m working with, and not ONE of the 10 Italian teachers ‘supervising’ got up and joined in. They all sat outside, smoked, and finished off a bottle of red wine with lunch. Most didn’t even watch. RUDE.
Oh- hold on. That’s actually pretty smart. If I had to deal with kids all day, everyday, FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE (shit. That’s called parenthood, right?) (SIDENOTE: right before I flew out to come home I nipped to Mama’s. My aunt was there. “Come home, have you?” she said (SECOND SIDENOTE: Obviously.) “Yes,” I replied. “I’m like a little lost sheep in need of her shepherd.” “You don’t get a bloody shepherd at your age,” she told me. “You’re out on your own now!” Errrr….no, thanks. Nobody gets ride of me that easy. I’m like herpes complex.)
Okay, so where were we? Oh yeah. Having a bunch of sunburned, energetic, jazz-hands English tutors take your class off you so that basically you have a day off? I’d be smoking and drinking too. Also, one teacher refused to walk up the hill to our location until she had sat and had a cappuccino. Her class had to watch her. WHAT POWER.
So I swore I’d never do this job again because so many Italian attitudes are polar from my own (Catholicism/no drunk women/men who order at dinner for you) that working here can be SO HARD. For a people that live in the sun they don’t half complain about the heat; for a people that invented Mussolini they don’t half piss around getting organised; for a people who want to improve their English in order to effectively communicate with the rest of the business-trading world, they don’t even act like they CARE. They are just… crazy.
But halfway through a rousing rendition of Boom Chicka Boom, as I wore a kids baseball cap backwards, dropped to the floor in the dirt to emphasise a point, and actually bowed down in admiration of a co-worker who threw a bottle of water over the annoying ones, I remembered why I do this: I’m crazier than they are.
That’s why I came back.