mercoledì, settembre 10, 2014

Your slacks match your loafers

So anyways . . . this cousin of mine. The son of the woman I nearly clocked the other day because she was trying to check my attempts to let my son walk up a forest trail he really wanted to walk up. I love my cousin very, very much. He is a nice person and has a good brain. He's also been doing the same undergrad degree for the last 24 years.

We've all heard stories (haven't we?) about Italian men still living with their mammas, getting cooked for and cleaned for and otherwise taken care of well into their middle age or until their incompetencies can be handed off for a wife to enjoy. Well, this guy is the extreme end of that; he has never had a moment of anything like even the possibility of independent living. His job has been giving his mother something to do by endlessly. Fucking. Fretting. About his health, about his driving, about his clothes, about his diet, about everything, in fact, except apparently his ability to function in the world independently of his parents.

The way she has raised him, to treat every tiny contretemps like a huge and intimidating mountain that is not necessarily there to be climbed, has left him . . . not soft . . . but slack. And I write that as someone who's loosely strung herself, but I've been more or less taking care of myself for awhile now, or at least splitting burdens with the F-word, so I don't think we're talking the same category of thing.

And if I sound like I'm blaming her too much, that's not fair of me. His father helped by handing off responsibility for raising the children to their mother - let her exercise the one power Italian women of her generation got to exercise. He gets pissy his son is so slack, and has arrived at middle age still so dependent, but he never did a damn thing to prevent it.

ANYWAYS. In my head it's been a pity for awhile that my cousin is as he is. He could have been a much happier person if he had been allowed to dip his toe in the deep end once in awhile (literally - he lives next to some of the most beautiful tideless beaches in the world and was never allowed to go in the water. Can't swim). But it hadn't been a thing that riled me until my aunt tried to do it to Godzilla. And then it REALLY riled me. It still riles me . . . I'm glad we're leaving so soon because she's going to keep doing it, even if I get positively ruder. She can't help it. That should make me more compassionate, but as the F-word said the other day on a different topic, "it's only not his fault in the same way that nothing is anybody's fault."

I have a lot of fears for Godzilla's future, most of which I just sit on and don't think about, because why would you? But one of them that I've been forced to think through here this last week is a fear of him ever suffering this slackness. This helplessness . . . this inability to see anything but problems. Because un-Pollyannaish and bitchy as I am, I honestly believe most things that aren't actively nice aren't problems either - they're just a bunch of things that happen that you deal with - and real problems are few and far between. And I don't see how life would be bearable if you couldn't believe that. 

Momma Bear

Well, I knew she was in there somewhere, and I had wondered what was going to make her come out. There's a bratty three year old next door in Melbourne we spend a lot of time with who has kicked and hit Godzilla, but that didn't do it - well, not really. Godzilla didn't complain and the brat's mother took him to task, so I didn't really do anything about it but tell the F-word about the "nasty little bastard" later, which to him somehow counted as Momma Bear coming out but I thought was just me talking.

No, Momma Bear came out yesterday while we and the extended family were walking up to a Jesus statue on the tallest peak of Aspromonte. Godzilla, being awesome, was insisting on doing most of the walking himself, though the trail was terrible. He was doing an awesome job and having such a good time. And of course he kept falling. I was there and made sure the falls were never around anything pointy or eye-pokey-outy, which was hard work but worth it. Calabria isn't a kid-friendly place. There are very, very few spots Godzilla can go full throttle and run/climb/play here. And as far as I'm concerned running, climbing, and playing are absolutely fucking key to his pleasure and his brain development so both Godzilla and I had a lot of commitment to the fun he was having on this mountain path, frequent supervised tumbles included.

But we were with this aged female relative of ours, who, every time he tumbled, would yell out a "Madonna!" or a "Minaccia!" or variations thereon, and constantly order her son (of whom more later) to pick up and carry mine - of course I forbid that. It got to be too much for her on the fifth or sixth tumble, and she darted for him herself, though I was right next to him making sure about the eyes not being put out, etc. And Momma Bear came right out. Well, not right out. I felt a strong urge to clock her, or at the very least grab her by the arm and push her away, but instead I dialed it down to interposing myself between her and Godzilla, and actually yelling "lascia!" at her. Which by my standards of comportment is desperately rude. It didn't make a difference to her behaviour toward Godzilla for the rest of the outing, but she has been frostier to me ever since.

I feel badly about it. I've always considered this woman silly, but also a kind-hearted and much-loved aunt, who can't help being silly - not the way women of her generation were brought up in these fucking mountain towns. When you're not working, there's nothing to do but gossip or fret, so of course you become fucking experts at both. I feel a lot of compassion for her, because of that background and because of her age. So I feel badly. But mostly I'm still pissed off. Momma Bear is not back in the cave yet. And in one sense I'm surprised that what was basically an act and feeling of tenderness from a near relative is what made Momma Bear come out. Anybody, I think, who has spent more than five minutes in a room with Godzilla and I knows that I'm all about the cuddles, and even this woman was impressed and a little confused that the boy is still breastfed. Certainly when Godzilla cries, which at this point is probably once every three days, I'm all over him with cuddles and comforting.

In another sense, I'm not surprised at all, because for years, even before Godzilla was born but especially since Godzilla was born, I've had a massive bone to pick with this woman over what she has done to her son with her overprotectiveness, so when she extended that to my own son it filled me with fucking fury.

More later . . . bacon to bring home now.