Tuesday, June 22, 2010

End of Elementary School

My younger son, Gabri, has just finished 5th grade, which is the end of elementary school here in Italy. He spent the past five years with the same group of 25 classmates and the same four teachers (one for math & sciences, one for Italian, one for history, geography and English, and one for religion). That makes for a lot of shared history: long-term friendships and enmities, love-hate relationships with teachers, and a lot of "remember the time..." memories.

Leaving that cocoon of certainties is not easy for the children, their parents or even the teachers, who have come to know and understand each of their students in his or her strengths and weaknesses. Next year, the teachers will start the process again with a fresh batch of first-graders, while my son and his classmates will separate and start anew in one of the three junior high schools in town.

But September (or maybe not until October if some wacky politicians get their way!) and thoughts of new schools and new friends seem quite distant now in June.

To celebrate the end of school, the families of Gabri's class got together with the teachers and had a "end of elementary school" party at the countryside villa of one family. Although the kids and teachers have been together all these years, not all of the parents know each other. Early on at the party, polite social intentions were good...but the moment was awkward. Someone brightly decided it would be a good idea to set up a circle of chairs for people to sit on. Is there anything more deadly for comfortable social interaction between strangers than a circle of chairs?
Look at all those crossed arms...

...and nervous facial touching!

I would have loved to have put these photos all together side by side, but my technical skills fail me! Anyway, I think the discomfort and unease just jump right out of the photos, don't you?

And where are all the dads? Well, luckily for everyone, one of the dads showed up not too long after the glum circle of doom incident....bearing a large jug of homemade wine. And, man, was that wine potent! I had just two sips and my head started spinning...I am not kidding! Needless to say, the party really loosened up and livened up after that! We all got to know each other and became great friends faster than you can say "moonshine." The parents laughed so hard they fell off their seats during the kids theatrical production of Snow White. It was in English (which most of them probably didn't understand) and not a comedy...

It's a strange feeling for both my son and I to think that this phase of our lives is over. But, that's the way life is, isn't it? Full of endings and new beginnings. We can only treasure what we have experienced so far and look forward expectantly to what is to come.


shopgirl said...

i LOVE the facial and body language! Classic! Great job of documenting that day.


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hello. Glad you're back blogging. The ladies do seem to be loosening up a bit more in each pic and thank goodness for the man who had the sense to bring the wine!

Anonymous said...

those photos tell so much, wow! we finished our first year at asilo - a wonderful school, a year of firsts, a building of the language (now if I can only get a handle on it - must make time to work on it!). so glad you are back. :) xx s

Saretta said...

Nice to hear from you guys! I am going to throw myself into blogging now that I have some more free time...it being summer and all.

Welshcakes, I am even going to work up my courage and go back to the PO to send you another copy of the book you so fairly won...and which lost its way between here and Sicily!

LindyLouMac said...

Just found you via Ciao Amalfi. Goody another Italy blog.
I wonder what was in the lemonade, it certainly got the ladies relaxed!

Saretta said...

LindyLou - that was no lemonade!!! LOL!