Last night was a little traumatic, a little sad as a window into Casey's heart opened a bit--what we saw was certainly not unpredictable--in fact, we have been expecting it-- but, when your child floods with tears, your heart weighs down as you try to comfort, console and make things OK.
San Diego has some wonderful Italian restaurants both in an area called the Gaslamp Quarter and in Little Italy. Most of these places are authentically Italian stemming from the "old country" heritage that is a part of San Diego's fishing history. Originally the food was primarily the heavier food of southern Italy but more and more it is including the cuisines of Rome and northern Italy--so a variety of options are always present. And then, as in anything in California, touches of the nouvelle California cuisine often find there way into the dishes. The result of this fusion is sometimes awesome--but not always.
Anyway, last night Ken and I decided that we wanted to go to one of our favorite places, La Strada--which is on 5th Street in the Gaslamp. Knowing that the owner, the chefs and most of the wait staff are from Italy--many from Florence, we thought it would be fun for Casey to wear his purple and red authentic Fiorentina shirt with Toni 30 on the back (for those of you not Italian--Toni is the top, idolized player for the Firenze Fiorentina Calcio (soccer) team.
Sure enough, he was a hit. As Italians do--several of them were effusively excited and wanted to know all about Casey having the shirt. It even turned out that the father of one of the women is part owner and chef of a restaurant in the piazza in Greve--as the saying goes, it's a small world.
In the enthusiasm of the moment and wanting to develop some comraderia with Casey, our waiter, who was from Roma, started a basic conversation with him in Italian--Come stai? Come ti chiami? All of which Casey knows and should be able to respond to as a proper Italian boy. But-------all of a sudden, he coudn't open his mouth, his eyes began to look like those of a deer caught by headlights, and sheer panic set in on his face. I knew we were going to a bad place.
Sure enough, the tears began, the sobbing started and the heartbreak of the fears he has been harboring burst out in full force. "I'm scared." "I don't want to move." "I'm going to be homesick." "Please can we just stay here?" He was inconsolable. So there in the restaurant he came over to me and I held him and let him sob his little heart out. It was so hard for Ken and I, knowing that he is afraid and understanding exactly why he is. Even though part of him is excited about going I don't know how much of that is real, how much is purely bravado and how much is no more than acceptance of what lies ahead. I do think he is torn between wanting the adventure and the fear of the uncertain. And I think the biggest fear is what's going to happen in the Italian classroom. Which--I am pretty sure was the catalyst for the dam breaking.
Having a conversation in Italian directed toward him and not understanding because of the speed with which it was spoken, panicked him. And then once he knew what had been said, I think he was afraid that he wouldn't be understood if he responded. And that surfaced the fear that rests within him about the school in Greve.
My mind lets me know why he is afraid but I am certain that I can not share the depth of his fear. How scary it must be to think not only of going to a place where he knows no one (as any kid who moves experiences) but to be afraid that he won't fit in or be able to talk and share and that kids might shun him. I think this gregarious, friendly little boy is already feeling lonely.
I am equally sure that he will be fine once we are there and he settles in--just because he is that gregarious, friendly boy. I am pretty sure that he will be the novelty that the other children flock to and because he will know more italian by the time we get there and because the children in the class already know that he is coming and because they have his picture in their room and see him everyday, he will soon be "one of them." But--that was no comfort to him last night--as sometimes it is.
So--as you think about him, say a prayer for his fears--that he will spend more time being excited than fearful. And--include in that prayer that he learn the language and read as well in it as he does in English. And a special thank you to all of you who have taken him to heart and sense a little bit why he is so dear to us.
God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.