Anyone who knows me knows that I am a surviving victim of the catholic school system. When Allison came home telling me she was assigned St. Catherine of Bologna as a history project, I almost choked on my mouthful of Lean Cuisine.
After getting myself together, she told me the class was learning about important figures from the Renaissance. The other kids were assigned fabulous characters like King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I and Joan of Arc. What evil forces were at work when she was assigned a nun? Allison was far from pleased to have to wear a nun’s habit when the other girls were going to be decked out in all the Renaissance splendor that the era is known for.
Not only did she have to research St. Catherine, but also dress up like her, memorize and recite an entire page of a single spaced typed biography. Oh, yeah, spoken with an Italian accent, oh mio Dio!
No, she is not enrolled in a college preparatory school. No, she is not in an arts school or even a gifted and talented program. Just a little ‘ole 5th grader in a charter school that take themselves far too seriously.
The preparation it took for the final presentation was more labor intensive than the summer Olympics in London last year. Hours of researching, typing, memorizing and practicing a renaissance era Italian accent with just the right Bolognais dialect.
We started looking at photos of St. Catherine on the internet. I found some perfectly lovely drawings of her, but all Allison could focus on was the mummified body of the actual original nun preserved and sitting in the chapel of the Poor Clares in Bologna, Italy. I do not exaggerate.
And then there’s me, catholic PTSD every night I have to think about sewing that damn costume! I am not usually a procrastinator, but with this particular project I could not get my act together and left it until the last minute, or until the Saturday before the Monday she was going to present. Off we went to store to buy a few yards of white, brown and black broadcloth. I then proceeded to drape and cut and do a little (very little) sewing. I thought she looked fabulous, for a dead nun.
That morning I was on pins and needles wondering how it was going. Was she going to choke? Was the wimple staying in place? Did she remember the rosary? Was the Little House on the Prairie book wrapped in brown cloth believable as a bible?
She ended up choking on the speech part (cazzarola!), but got an A for effort. Phew! I’m glad that is over. Yesterday I got an email from the school announcing a “Civil War Re-Enactment and Ball” for the 5th and 6th graders in April.
Oh, what fresh hell can this be?