Tuesday, February 13


As I walked Skye down the steps to her school she leaned over the wall and saw the playground. “Oh no, Mummy! What’s happened?” I looked and sighed. The slide and climbing frame had been cleared from the centre and stacked up at the edge. The trikes and cars had been put away and there was a distinct air of abandonment to the play area.

The school caretaker was standing at the bottom of the steps so I asked him when the playground would be back in use.
“Eeh, not for a while,” he replied shaking his head. “It’s winter you see. The mothers wouldn’t like it if the kids were running around outside, they could catch all sorts of illnesses.”
“What a load of rubbish!” I answered indignantly. “Fresh air is much better for them than being cooped up all day in a stuffy classroom.”
“Maybe where you come from, but here it’s different,” the caretaker told me, lighting up a cigarette. “Here the kids need to be kept wrapped up warm, and the teachers can’t be expected to put all those hats and coats on all of them so that they can play outside. The mothers wouldn’t like it anyway.”

“But it’s not cold!” I exclaimed, “it’s 15° outside and sunny! This is Southern Italy, not Greenland! Where I come from kids go outside and play every day, whether its raining or snowing and it doesn’t hurt them one bit. I am convinced that the kids are always so ill here because they don’t get any fresh air.”

The caretaker exhaled a stream of smoke and looked at me. I saw that none of what I said had registered. He thought I was the stupid one, wanting my kid to play outside in the winter. One more try, I thought to myself.
“So, when will the playground be opened then?”
“Aah, well that all depends. After Easter probably, if the weather is OK.”
“After Easter? But that’s in April! And anyway the weather is perfectly OK now, it’s warm, it’s sunny…”
“Eeh, but it’s winter you see. We can’t let the kids out to play, the mothers wouldn’t agree.”

I give up and drop my daughter of in the classroom.


  1. This actually happened last year.
    So if there has been a miracle and kids are now allowed outside, I still don't know about it!

  2. I was a teacher at a school with hundreds of kids and during the winter they let them all run around and play in the hallways. I never understood why they did that until now. I also wondered why they didn't play outside. Even in Tuscany it doesn't get that cold in winter.
    (that was e years ago)

  3. We get -5 degrees here in Lux and kids are wrapped up and sent to play outside even though the wind makes it feel like Siberia.
    You have great courage and patience Niki bringing a kid up in Positano. Most of the time I can't believe the way things are run there, but I don't have to put up with it all year !

  4. I think you found the right solution, taking her out on your own and letting her play. It's not worth trying to convince an entire culture (esp. in a small and secluded village) that they must change and see things your way.

    Believe me I have spent many years trying to get my parents to see things from a more American perspective. It's only as an adult that I realized their West Indian values were not so crazy after all.

  5. yes, being cooped up in a closed house where 9 out of ten adults are smoking is DEFinitely more healthy.

    non lo sapevi, scema? ;)


  6. It's all so sadly true!
    One of my major fights are with windows...I open them ALL THE TIME and everybody else is totally shut in as if they lived in Russia when the coldest wind chill is blowing, and...don't start me...how do they dress their children? Have a look at them. No kid living where it's really cold wears as warm clothes as they do here. Leayers over layers over layers...

  7. Here, when it's 15-20 degrees outside, we call it summer and our kids run around half naked. :D :D :D

  8. You're right! I agree that it's probably worse for a child's health to be stuck indoors all day than to be let out to run around and play in the fresh air. It's not only that they don't have fresh air in their lungs in the classroom, but the fact that they're not exercising when stuck indoors either!

  9. Good for you! Sadly it seems like the teachers are in cahoots to have less outside supervision...


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