"I swear that if I have children I will NOT be like my mother! I will not tell them what to do. I will not tell them who they should go out with, I will not read their diary and I will have nothing to do with their sentimental matters, I will not call the first good boy (or good girl) that comes to our house "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" without their permission and, above all, I will not arrange marriages for them! " I used to loudly say to my mother after being introduced by yet another one of my marriage candidates. Usually a bold Italian guy wearing a large pair of Harry Potter like glasses (when nobody knew who Harry Potter was and how cool were his glasses) and which would have suited my grandma better. "But he is a doctor and his father has an established business!" my mom would say in excitement. "Ma mamma, questo obiettivamente fa cagare!", I would reply to her in disgust. Few days later, another atrocious looking guy (perhaps a lawyer or a big brother of the Fiat people living up the hills of Turin) would appear at our doorstep, ready to be humiliated by my evil actions (e.g addition of vinegar to ossobuco). Still, my mother WOULD NOT get it.
On the day I got married, my mother said to me on the phone five minutes before the beginning of the ceremony: "Are you sure you want to get married? You can still back out if you want!". She couldn't trust my decision (and probably thought she could make a better suggestion herself at that point) until she met and got to know the man I married, and gave me her approval, which luckily didn't take long.
Now look at me as a mother. As soon as I make an Italian friend with a smart and cute baby girl close to William in age... that's it. I immediately find myself making jokes on our two kids dating, often with the thought at the back of my mind that William will have a nice and smart Italian girlfriend, that one day he will marry a nice and smart Italian woman and that he will have nice and smart Italian children (hopefully with the same woman). OH MY GOD!
When I catch myself thinking like this (like my mother) even out of jokes, I almost immediately feel the need of making clear to William, the little girl and to everybody else involved that I am not the one who decides such things and that William's friends are all welcome in our house until William decides that one is more welcome than the others. Very good intentions but it only takes one phone call to bring the "little girlfriend" back into my words. Do you want an example? "Ciao Gaia, come sta l'amichetta di William?" Unfortunately, in the Italian language, as soon as you talk about the "amichetta" (the little friend) - I know, you don't do that with the ugly looking girl you bump into at the playground -, as soon as you refer to her as the "amichetta" everyone's thoughts go straight to "girlfriend" and it doesn't take much before you start calling her "fidanzatina" (little fiance'). If you call her "compagna" instead to avoid this, you have the associations of the couples living together without marriage. So you go back to calling her "amica", hoping that the term is not too close to "girlfriend".
Then if you allow kisses and romantic dinners (which by the way William had a week ago), you have lost all of your good intentions. If the girl is not Italian, you will think: "Hey, this girl is not Italian. Your roots William, don't forget your roots!" At least, this sounds better than "Wives and bulls from your own country!", which is what my parents' used to say to me with little success - in fact I took both the man and the bulls not from Italy but from Wyoming. If the girl is Italian, you will then be thinking that perhaps she is not attractive enough or that she is too short or too demanding or too good looking or too old for him, the list being endless. And you will soon turn into that type of mother you were desperately trying NOT to be: jealous, noisy, deus ex machina and with the highest possible standards, hoping that your child will stay with you for the longest possible.
But look at the pictures below and tell me if these two are not cute together. What? Ok, ok, I'll shut up.
William having fun with his friend Naima at the Italian Christmas party