Thursday, March 1, 2012


Having previously listed the pros and cons of both the American kid and  the Italian , I feel it's now time to talk about the Italian-American child, the one I have to take responsibility for.
It's now proven that the Italian-American kid represents the worst of both worlds. Just a few examples. He appreciates you cooking for him, but insists on helping.
He shows initiative and imagination, but doesn't clean up after himself.
He is so fearless to climb on the library roof, but not independent enough to come down on his own, without the help of the fire department.
He has the drive to conjure up a lemonade stand, but can't squeeze a lemon.
He sits down for ice cream and stands for salads; eats hamburgers with the use of silverware, and soup with a straw.

If you really want to know, this kid happens to be a girl. A mythological creature not so different from a Chimera, custodian of two, not always compatible, genetic components:
the ones that trickled down through time from the "Pioneers", and the ones that were chiseled from the "Genovese" stock.
On one side, the urge to push the limits; on the other, the urge to deny them.
On one side, someone that wants to climb the highest tree to touch the sky; on the other someone that knows her mom will take out the rosary beads at the mention of a tree.
On one side someone who is encouraged to do things on her own ("why don't you make your own breakfast?"), on the other, someone who is under constant death threat ("if you spill the milk I will kill you!"). This dichotomy needs to be dissolved before we are all made to lie on a psychoanalyst couch.
Especially because the aforementioned girl is not an only child, but rather the first of a long series.
Four in all. All four, girls. All of them hybrids.
I have tried to tame them. Some good came out of that.
Therefore I etched a diabolical plan with few objectives:
#1 Promote independence and stretch as much as possible the radius of the umbilical chord;
#2  Foster team spirit (One for all, all for one........all against me);
#3 Refine sense of direction;
#4 Force myself to be more of a pioneer and less than a puppeteer;
#5 Get a few hour of peace, if not (dare I say it?) sleep.

And this is how it happened that last Sunday I begun what shall be referred from now on as:
Here's how to proceede.
Grab a group of girls aged between eight and thirteen, girls used to go about their business in a glass bubble (it's better if these girls are related to you by blood, there is a law about it - not my law) .
Blindfold them.
Drop them off at a random address in town, as long as it is remote.
Give each five bucks (for a more challenging version of the operation you can use foreign currency or Monopoly money) and a map of the city (again, not necessarily the city you are in).
Take away the blindfolds and explain to them that they have four hours to find their way home.
Leave the engine of the car idle so you can make a run for it before any objection is raised.
Don't worry, you will have a few seconds before their mouth will overcome the paralysis.

And so it happened that last Sunday I kidnapped my own daughters and abandoned them by the San Francisco Zoo.
Would they make it?
Would I?
As it turns out, I underestimated them.
In the four hour time allowance they managed to:
have lunch at their favorite restaurant; pilot themselves downtown, navigating a complex net of public transportation; visit the Mecca of make up, get a make over and a decent amount of samples;
last but not least, be extremely proud of themselves.

The girls are now asking me to repeat the operation on a weekly basis.
They did not catch me unprepared, phase two of my plan has already been activated:
I wonder how they would get back from Yosemite National Park with a map of Amsterdam!

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