Tuesday, October 12, 2010

In our house the wheels on the bus go round and round! - A casa nostra le ruote delle macchine girano, girano!

Three months after I fell pregnant, when I finally knew that, with or without my PhD, I was going to become a mother, I knew my life was going to change. I could no longer be the girl who was drinking mojitos until it was time to get on a cab home or crash at someone's house, nor the girl who was spending two hours per day at home (without doing any cleaning), nor the girl who was eating salt and vinegar crisps for dinner in the Bioengineering lab instead of a nicely cooked meal.

In the last three months of my pregnancy, when the baby was moving in my big tummy like a two-week load of clothes spins in the washing machine I finally knew that I was no longer worried about how to explain the posterior probability in my complex computer program for the PhD thesis. I was no longer worried about getting a job in the US either. No, my worries were different.

I was worried about how I would be able to remember to change diapers, about how I would learn to feed the baby, to use creams for dealing with baby rashes and how I could possibly give up a cocktail party or late night drinks at a private Club in the city to go home to put the baby in bed. In these explosions of worry, there was one that stood out: how would my days change as a mom?

I was trying to imagine what it would be like to have a girl as opposed to having a boy. Having had a screwed up relationship with my mom from my childhood up until now, I was thinking that there was no way that I could build a good relationship with a girl that would be competing with me for the love of the only man in our family. I could more easily imagine myself falling in love with a boy in an Oedipal kind of relationship. Then the thoughts of a future filled with trucks, monsters, dirt and with all the gradations of pink banned - depressing. I was asking myself: "Gee, is this what I am buying into if I opt for having a boy? (as if the preference of having a boy as opposed to a girl could suddenly turn into a life choice!)" Even if I don't get the "maschiaccio" type - the one who destroys your house, the one who bites you to ask for a cookie, the one who gets into trouble 5 times a day - the average boy plays with a monster who looks like a turnip and beats the shit out of your furniture like a wrecking ball. Is this what I am going for? After all, the average boy uses furniture as a playground, jumps on everything, and you end up with your living room wall looking like a bad imitation of a Pollock. I kept thinking, the average boy does not ask you to put the baby doll to sleep, a topic for which I was prepared. Instead, he asks you to play with cars and dinosaurs. Help! What do I know about cars and dinosaurs?"

I remember that once a boy asked me to play "Skatapu'm" with him. "What does this mean?" I asked. "You fall down and then I jump on you so that I can step on you and you die". "Great" He then kicked me so hard in the leg it took me a week to recover. Perhaps I never recovered from that. The boy games are called "Joe the killer" or "Dead Vampires". Then you walk in a house guarded by Playstation soldiers shooting bullets into the walls of your house. Nice.

I was thinking, honestly, isn't it more appealing to play with a Barbie getting ready for a date with Ken? If I have a boy, how would I teach and pass my knowledge to him without turning him into a girl? How could I put his hair into plates? How could I sing the song "The beautiful laundress" or "This is the qua qua dance" without causing my poor guy to display a super embarrassed face in front of his friends? How could I teach him to draw princesses' tiaras? Not that I am against boys playing with princesses if they choose to do so themselves but I would prefer not to push that kind of girlie stuff on him.

Then my beautiful boy arrived and the package of toys that came with him: play mats, animals, blocks, puzzles, puppets, musical instruments, grocery in all colors, sizes, shapes and materials, kitchen tools, cleaning products, DIY tools and a baskets full of books. But also all the doors and the cabinets in our house, our cell phones, empty bags, empty boxes, the pages of magazines left on the couch, even screws and nails left in the floor during the construction of our kitchen, all became irresistible in William's eyes.

William started experimenting with different types of "brum brum" sounds early on to the surprise of the moms of his baby girl friends. However, he didn't have toy preferences until his first birthday, when the puppy truck made its appearance. That truck soon turned into an obsession, William's first obsession. From the day he discovered it, more and more trucks, commercial vans (so American!) and vacation cars (so Italian!), small cars, big cars, gigantic cars (for William to drive), talking cars, cars made of blocks, etc, etc, filled our rooms. And this is what you would very likely see these days in our house: William scooting on the floor from room to room with a little hand squeezing a red car and with the other one making the wheels of another car spin round and round. And me singing the song "the wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round. The wheels on the bus go round and round, all day long." And I love it.

William with his two favourite cars

William hunting for cars

I love to see him play, I love to imitate the brum brum sounds he makes, I love to buy him a new car (sometimes I wonder whether I am buying it for myself or whether I am really buying it for him), I love to see his reaction when he sees a new car, I love to sing car songs to him (and to translate them into Italian). I love to insert car sounds in the stories I read to him and see him smile. I love to play as a boy with him. I can no longer imagine myself raising a girl. I have realized that it is probably more fun to raise a boy than it would be to try to recreate my life as a girl.

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