When I announced to my family that I would see them in the summer after the end of my exchange year, and not over Christmas break, I knew that I had triggered something.
Like the United States, Italian society is very much family centered. Families are the first places of socialization for little humans. The process of growing up is overseen and supported emotionally and financially until little humans get bigger and ready to leave home. At which point, their independence causes their ties with the family to get thinner.
Kids in the US start taking up jobs to sustain themselves financially as soon as they enter college, and once done with college they’re gone for good and ready to be independent. In Italy, this is not the case. Families try as hard as they can to preserve co-dependency with grown up kids. Hence the stereotype of the over-protective and extremely caring Italian Mamma. Italian parents have a tendency to cling to their children especially when they are getting independent. No wonder why the average age of adults leaving the family home for the first time in strikingly higher than the US. Even the average age for young adults to get their first job. Well, that’s also because the state of Italian economy is not very kind to young people at the moment. But I don’t want to get political now. I will, in due time: we have election on March the 4th, and I just requested my absentee ballot from the General Consulate of Italy in DC.
On a short notice, my dad notified me of his arrival a week before. The funny bit is that he told me he would be staying for a month. As a matter of fact, as I write, he is still in the US. Not in D.C, but in New York. He came last weekend and remained until last Tuesday.
We didn’t do much, because of the bad weather. But we got to catch up on some stuff that I had put off. We went to Walmart and bought a table for the living room, a bunch of kitchen utensils, bathroom products and so on. Walmart is always an experience for us Europeans, and it was the first time for my dad as well.
Most importantly, from as empty as black hole, my fridge was replenished in a matter of hours thanks to my dad. And so was my stomach. I had forgotten how he is at cooking.
We also watched the Superbowl, but since we didn’t really know the rule of the game we got bored easily. On Monday, he came to visit me at work at the EU delegation. Anyway, it was a very good weekend.
I love to see how Italian family bonds adjust to globalization.