domenica 16 settembre 2007


A traditional way of congratulating the bride and groom at an Italian wedding is to say something along the lines of “Congratulations and may you be blessed with male children”. What??!! Say WHAT?!?! Its use may be rapidly diminishing, but it does make you wonder about the mentality of a nation where “mamma” is everything but the true blessing is to have boys. I’m told that it’s to do with maintaining the family name, but did nobody worry about where the next mamma might come from? I say be careful what you wish for!

Luca has two young nieces, one who is two and a half, and the other just seven months. I have witnessed the progress of the first since she was one, and participated in the pregnancy and arrival of the other (not literally!). My experience of children is quite minimal, being from a very small family and not having siblings myself, and whilst at the start I would hold them like a football and panic at the merest whimper, I realise that I am actually now quite comfortable in the company of these little people who never fail to amaze in the way that they view the world, and the reaction they provoke in complete strangers. Italians are famous for their love of children, and they don’t appear to have yet adopted the paranoid, fretful method of parenting which is so popular where I come from. Here, people take their children to expensive restaurants on a Saturday night, allow them to play in the streets, and let them scream incessantly on public transport without fear of reprisal, no matter how much the little angels continue to annoy other passengers (i.e. me!). On the one hand I think it’s great that babies and children are included in everyday life, and not packed off to bed at 7pm every night, and that they generally have hordes of family members on the doorstep to love and spoil them. On the other hand I fear the consequences of a generation of young people who are so used to being centre-stage and too cute to be disciplined that sometimes the practicalities of sharing the world with those around them seem to be overlooked. Maybe it explains the reason why Italian “children” stay under their parents’ roofs until they are about ninety three…

In any case, this post is dedicated to my friend Maria, who discovered a couple of days ago that the little person who has been kicking her in the stomach for the past few weeks is in fact, a girl. Congratulations and may you be blessed in spite of the fact that you are not expecting a boy… :-)

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