My son, as I may have mentioned before, is I’m sure a lot like other boys his age (nearly 12) in that he likes to spend as much time as possible doing two things: playing soccer (insert sport of choice) and playing with his PS3 or computer games. Often trying to get him to do anything other than these things involves a form of very slow Chinese water torture (to be endured by me, not him). So it is with some degree of delight that this week I observed that Luc likes to get into the weightiest of topics at the strangest of times – always when we are biking in city streets, usually through challenging traffic, on the way to his soccer practice, which is at least 20 minutes each way.
On the way to practice the other day he posed the question: “Mom, what’s it like to be a woman?” which he has admittedly asked before. But after my initial glib response of “I don’t know because I’ve never been anything else,” he kept pressing for details. Now I know a window when I see one! I will certainly not ever miss the chance to help him grow into the progressive, aware, strong, and good man that I know he will become. So, this led to a discussion of what women’s place has historically been in the world and is today, in some places still.
I have to say it all came as quite a shock to him and in his lovely innocence he couldn’t begin to understand why a woman wouldn’t always have the same rights as a man, why they might get paid less for the same job, or why I have to be more careful going home at night by myself than he will ever have to as a grown man.
On the way back from practice the question was “Mom, what happens when we die?” which sparked a discussion on religion, what some people believe happens when you die, with each of us pitching our own pet theories on what awaits us all eventually, all the while dodging Italian drivers and navigating roundabouts.
I can’t quite figure out this predilection of his for heavy-duty conversations while in motion. It has happened before, sometimes in cars too, anything involving wheels apparently. But all I know is that his curiosity is alive and well and I’ll go with the probably still contrarian theory that gaming makes you smarter!
Check out these great TED talks on gaming:
Gabe Zichermann – How Games Make Kids Smarter
Jane McGonigal: Gaming Can Make a Better World
Piazza dei Signori, Vicenza
Who would have thought having a visa to live in Italy and trying to do everything by the book could be so time consuming and difficult? No wonder there is still a thriving black market and many people live under the radar. Every day it seems like there is a new government office to visit and some degree of bureaucratic labyrinth to navigate.
This week was no exception though we’ve been back here a month and a half now. Italy seems to operate in a continual catch-22 house of mirrors basis. Thing A can’t be accomplished until Thing B can be, which requires first, the completion of Thing A and let’s not forget the signing and stamping of at least 50 sheets of paper along the way.
My head literally hurts from trying to understand and be understood for hours a day.
The boy started full time Italian school this week and believe me, his head is hurting too. It’s middle school and the academics are pretty intense. There’s certainly no way he can keep up yet as his Italian is nowhere near fluent. We are going to have to hit the both the Italian and English books at home in order for him to not fall too far behind his grade level.
But on the other side of things, immersion is really the best way to learn and even though it can be frustrating and exhausting, it’s pretty cool to feel a foreign language just tumbling out of your mouth. As I think Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in "Eat Pray Love", there is no reason to learn Italian other than for the sheer beauty and appreciation of the language. And since it has always been my dream to be fluent in other languages, I might, be stint of sheer necessity, be on my way to realizing that!
actor-writer-director, improviser, mother, traveler, general renegade and rabblerouser.