Sundays with Schoolhouse Moms Interview 11 with Stay-at-Home Mom & Creative Spirit, Francesca

I met Francesca through a mutual friend back in the fall and over time I've realized we have a lot of similarities in our parenting narratives: We're both parents to kids right around age four, our kids have some environmental sensitivities, we both spend a considerable amount of time at home, and...we both have opted out of sending our eldest children to school for the time being.  (This, in Rome, is the equivalent of bucking the system).  I think you'll find her interview to be interesting and insightful.  Enjoy!

Name: Francesca Sciarretta

I'm an architect but now I'm a full-time mom and wife!

How long have you been in Rome and what brought you here? I was born in Rome and I have always lived in Rome, except for a long holiday (1 month) in California when I was 18. It was a great experience!

Where are you from and how many languages do you speak? I'm from Rome. I speak Italian and English.

Do you think Rome is an ideal place to raise kids? I think Rome offers a lot of opportunities and incentives to grow up and to become an “open-minded” person. I also think that for a lot of reasons, Rome is not a good place to raise a child. I think about pollution. So when we can, we run away from Rome and we go to Trevignano Romano on Bracciano's lake, where we have a little house. In Trevignano we also find a human dimension of life that I think is lost in Rome. Also, people are more kind and relaxed! We can have a straight relationship with nature...I think it's important for kids.

Tell me about your family background and structure: My husband and I are both from Rome and we have always lived here. My parents are from Molise and they moved to Rome 45 years ago. I had a strong bond with my grandmother who lived in Termoli on the Adriatic sea, where I spent all my childhood. She taught me a lot--cooking, for example--that is a great passion for me.
I didn't know that, but that makes sense!  I'll get to that later.

How do you all approach language in your home? We speak Italian in our home and also in our parents' homes.

Which language is your child more dominant in? Italian

How do you think languages are best learned?
I think a child should be exposed to a new language as soon as possible and the method of using one person per language from the birth if possible. I chose to speak Italian to my daughter Sofia and my husband too. Our English is not so fluent. So when I met Tamara and found out about her school, I was very happy because I'd found the right person to speak only English to Sofia. And the great thing is that while she learns she enjoys herself a lot!

How did you learn English? At school and during my travels.

Which English Schoolhouse course option are you choosing for the fall? The afternoon courses, I think.

Now the fun stuff...

What website sdo you waste the most time on? Architecture, graphic and furniture websites; I always look for new websites to take new ideas to improve Sofia's room and to build some hand-made toys with her. I hate plastic toys! I see also cooking and cake design websites.
You know, I really had an epiphany the last time I was over your house and you showed me the gorgeous toys from your husband's childhood:

As parents and consumers in general, I think there's a need to get back to the old way of doing things as far as toys are concerned.  Less is more--and quality!  There is no quality in the majority of toys today!  Some of our son's toys that we've bought from the magazine stand down the street (and I'll be honest, they're impulse buys because they're at eye-level, he sees them, and he wants them) have lasted less than 24 hours.  That's just absurd, and it's our fault for buying this crap.  Sorry, but that's what it is.  I've been thinking in the last few days, how can we teach the concept of value as a verb and a noun to our son if the majority of what he comes in contact with during his play is anything but?

Recently I discovered you have a secret talent for cake decorating...what other talents/interests are you hiding? I started to work the sugar paste just to see my daughter happy! When I made my first cake with Barbapapà last year, it was a success! Every child was so excited! Now that she is bigger, we make cookies and decorations for cupcakes and cakes together. And she has a lot of fun everytime. Other interests...I love cooking, gardening on my little terrace, and traveling.

What's your favorite magazine? Furniture magazines

What are your top 3 favorite restaurants in the city?

“Costanza” near Campo de' Fiori
“Gallura” in Parioli
“Grotta Azzurra” in Trevignano Romano

What's your favorite place to take your kid? Trevignano Romano

What's her favorite place to go? My parents' house in the area of Manziana and the beach.

Any good recommendations for a date night out? A glass of good wine in Trastevere, Enoteca Ferrara

In your opinion, what's Rome's best kept secret? In Romem you can find a lot of forms of art, from the  architectonic point of view (from the Roman ruins to the new architecture for contemporary expositions, the MAXXI, the expansion of MACRO...), but also expositions themselves of every form of art you can find in the world.

If you have a little bit of time to yourself, how do you normally spend it?
I go to swim or I read

Favorite children's book? CLICK CLACK MOO 
This answer delighted me because you found out about that book after I loaned it to Sofia and you read it aloud to her!  Now you want your own copy!  It's proof that children's books can (and should) be just as moving for adult readers as they are for children.

What was the last book you read and how would you rate it? Now I'm reading “Le mille e una notte” was a present from a friend of mine for last Christmas. It's a collection of fantastic tales and it relaxes me!

You're a stay-at-home mom. Do you ever miss working? No, I don't miss it. I'm a creative person and if I have the way to express my talent, I'm happy. I do it every day following my daughter as she grows up. I was not as lucky as my daughter; my mom worked hard in an office all day when I was a child.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of staying at home, in your opinion? I think Sofia is growing up as I always wished a child of mine would. She is a very calm and balanced child. Another important point is that she feels my authority. I think we have a great and deep relationship. My husband is a dentist, so I can stay at home. Drawbacks...sometimes I feel very tired because I'm not so young to be able to follow a little child around all day long and my husband works a lot, sometimes 12-hour shifts even. He also sometimes works during the weekend. When I feel I'm too tired, I call my mother or the babysitter. I just take some time for me doing what relaxes me and everything works again!

After our conversation last week about quality toys and cakes, Francesca and I have decided to team up in the fall to offer something so special and cool and The English Schoolhouse.  I can't tell ya about it just yet, but stay tuned and I think you'll be just as excited about it when the time comes.

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