Smacking kids. Parenting and teaching in Italy.

CHRISTINE: So how was your day today?

TRISTAN: Great! My teacher only hit me once!

You know those stories about Catholic schools where the nuns smack kids hands and things? Welp apparently in Italy nuns still to smack kids upside the head. The other day I asked Tristan how his day was and he said:

TRISTAN: My teacher probably hit my head 100 times today.

ME: Why?

TRISTAN: I was being mean to other kids

I know it’s pretty un-American for me to say, but I’m fine with it. He’s probably not learning the *right* lessons, but it’s an experience that obviously hasn’t damaged his psyche.

Ian has mentioned a number of times about how his teacher will grab him and shake him or hurt him while pulling him. Very different from the US model, but it gets his attention.

I don’t know, again, pretty un-American of me to say and I’m pretty sure it’s overused as a crutch in the Italian system, as opposed to a “special case” sort of tool, but *maybe* in Ian’s case it *is* the right tool?

I mean when I was a kid I was biting all the time and wouldn’t listen to anyone who told me to stop… so my mom bit me back.

Well I stopped biting people.

Unorthodoxed but it did get the message across.

Another interesting conversation happened yesterday with my awesome neighbors (who are moving after the new year… sniff).

ANGELA (with a puzzled look on her brow): You’re their parent, but you’re also their friend. I mean you talk with them and laugh and joke.

ME: Yeaaaah? Is that a good thing?

ANGELA: Yes, I think it’s a very good thing, but it’s very strange.


I see this physicality on the playground too.

After school some kids hang out and run around and play. For the boys that appears to be mostly running up to other boys and pushing or hitting them…

Not sure if I shared but in our first week in Siena Ian was digging a hole in a playground and an Italian boy maybe a year or two younger than Ian came up and started filling the hole back in and throwing sand at Ian. They kept their distance until Tristan came around and then the boy went and pushed Tristan over. Ian shot right up and said in the boy’s face “Did you push him over?” and then pushed the little kid on his butt.

It’s a different culture than we’re used to, and I think overall it’s a good experience for the kids to have, so they understand that there ARE different ways and they appreciate where they’re living now.