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The American Au Pair

January 16, 2011

I went to be an au pair without having that much experience with kids.  All I know is that I like playing with them.

Last night was my first full-on babysitting night.  The kids’ parents went out, looking very glamorous (at least the mom did…but then, she always does), and I was in charge of cooking dinner and putting them to bed.

The seven-year-old daughter, D, is adorable.  Her mom has convinced her that I don’t understand Italian (yet the mom continues to speak to me in Italian in front of D!), and D has convinced me that I don’t speak Italian, because she doesn’t understand me if I ever speak Italian to her, which I am expressly forbidden from doing.  D doesn’t know much English other than “Yes,” and “Thank you,” so when she has to communicate with me, she usually resorts to the slow, broken speech (in Italian)  that stereotypical rude characters in movies use with deaf people or foreigners (You…make….dinner? Now? Watch…movie?…Now?)  Ironically, this is even harder for me to understand than were she to speak normally, which seems to reinforce her conviction that I don’t understand Italian.

The whole point of that conviction is that she speak English with me, and it seems to working.  She told her friend a few days ago, “Io non vado piu` alle lezioni d’inglese.  Io ce l’ho a casa l’insegnante!” I’m not going to English class in school anymore.  I have my own English teacher at home!

Last night, we made an apple pie, I taught her the lyrics to Hot n’ Cold by Katy Perry and we watched the video about 15 times (I’m not sure the didactic qualities of that song have been utilized to their full potential in English-language instruction; it’s a great way to learn basic vocabulary…hot, cold, in, out, up, down, wrong, right), we played uno, we watched a movie, and we wrote a bunch of words in the “Quaderno di Beth,” the notebook the kids made to keep track of the English words they are learning.

I have to go, because I am going out to breakfast with my host family’s niece today.  A dopo!

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