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First Week of School


Here is my "Mom Update": We all survived the first week of school! Federico was very excited the night before the first day of American High School (and maybe a little anxious). He carefully prepares his clothes each night (even irons t-shirts), get's his backpack ready and Student ID tag ready to go. He gets up at 6:40 for a 7:25 departure and 7:45 first period. After a couple of minor schedule changes, he has quite a load of solid classes: English, Biology, Economics/U.S. Government (proudly cheering for Obama...), Physics, Pre-Calculus, and Latin 3.

His first day, he was a little surprised to find that ALL students didn't look like the pretty blond cheerleaders or hunky football stars in the movies he has seen. I asked if all Italian students were beautiful, and he admitted they weren't, but he was still hoping for the Hollywood variety classmates. He has made a few friends in his classes, and a girl invited him to go to the first football game together. They have ALL heard about him, and LOVE his accent. He has also had a couple of overwhelmed moments. He was assigned a 1000 word essay, and was thinking "1000 pages". He has his first test tomorrow. For the most part, he thinks his classes are fun and interesting, though not as serious as his classical high school courses in Italy. He was surprised to hear teachers making jokes or trying to entertain students. His professors at home are VERY strict.

He is quite comfortable with us at home, yet the "honeymoon period" continues. He is still kind, respectful, open, affectionate, attentive, curious, helpful, neat, funny, and happy. He does nice things without being asked, takes care of his chores and laundry, says "thank you" and shares all about his day. He is conscientious about homework and spends several hours a night studying with no procrastination. He walks in from school, changes into gym shorts, has a cafe latte or snack, and gets right to work. He shows me his homework from each class, and occasionally asks me a question or a word.

He is now only Skyping his parents once a week, and "letting go" of his Italian life in order to fully be here. Tuesday evening he got a message from his dad: "Call me- important". He asked us if he could call, and learned his aunt had passed away. After a few minutes in his room, he came out and told us his sad news. Hugs and tears and support were given, as he told us about her illness and his cousins. Later, we watched The Hunger Games, as a reward for Federico reading his first book in English.

Yesterday, we had our first tiny glitch. I planned three days in SF for Labor Day weekend, because the "official school calendar" showed Friday as a holiday. I THOUGHT we were leaving Thursday after school and driving to the Bay area, planning 3 days worth of stuff to do. Wednesday he came home from school, very frustrated and told me there is school on Friday and he has a test in Economics! He wouldn't consider missing school and making up the test next week. It was a mini-melt down for both of us. (very mini) After 5 phone calls, (Brad, friends in the Bay area, dogsitter, work schedule, and another friend) we made the decision to leave Friday after 3rd period. The world won't end if he misses a couple of the 22 sights Ms. Over-Planner scheduled for three days. I crammed the rest into Saturday and Sunday, and everyone is happy. It led us to a very good conversation about flexibility, staying calm, communicating feelings, trust and compromise.

Funny moment: the other night at dinner, I served carrot-raisin salad. Federico ate about half of what I put on his plate, and everything else. I noticed he was moving the rest of the salad around with his fork. He looked up sheepishly and said, "This one, I don't like too much." I laughed and said he didn't have to finish it. He said, "It is the first time." I asked, "The first time you ate carrot-raisin salad?" He said, "No, the first time I didn't love something you made!"

So, I am still a bucket of mush, enjoying the smiles, the hugs, and doing the mom thing. I want to give a BIG Thank you to Lea and Massimo who have done an AMAZING job parenting Federico. Yesterday during a thunderstorm, I was happy as a pig in mud, baking cookies until it was time to pick him up from school. I have learned every concept in Chapter 1 of Economics and Biology, and I'm loving it when Brad explains something about calculus or football and kisses the kid goodnight on the top of his head. I have no words to tell you how bursting with joy I am. So far, so good!

Comments (5)

Barb Cabot:

What a heartwarming wonderful post. I look forward to your blog and reading about your joy filled heart. This was a destiny waiting for its' time. I'm so happy for you and Brad and Federico.

What a terrific update! I was wondering about school and how it was going for him. He has a pretty heavy class load. I love that he even irons his t-shirts!

Have a great time in SF. The fog came roaring in yesterday, sad to say. It is even foggy at my house in Marin this morning.


Glad he is enjoying school and has made friends on his own! Also glad that you and Brad are able to see our schools from the perspective of an "insider". Everyone has an opinion, but unless you've walked those halls recently, you will have a distorted view of education today. So sorry for the loss of his Aunt.


Welcome to the world of raising a teen-ager and every changing plans. This is just the beginning, believe me. Please tell him that teenagers here DO NOT iron undershirts--or probably anything. That should free up some time.

I remember Rita's daughter when she came here for high school and how amazed she was to find that teachers were really human like the rest of humanity--they joke, admit error, etc. It is a new world for kids used to the Italian schools. That was even so when Casey came back in the 4th grade.

Had to laugh about the plan change. I suspect that will not be the last time as he fills his weekends up with school events and friends. You will learn that changing "parent plans" and becoming house bound is par for the course. Welcome to our world.

Love following this adventure.

Robert Santa Monica:

Funny and heart-warming. What a wonderful adventure!

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