Monday, May 16, 2011

Unexpected stuff
The one thing that you should know if you are ever considering making a major move from one country to another is that in the post 9/11 world no one really wants you to move so that the paper work will be the worst horror film of people in offices telling you no again and again that you could ever conjure up in the far reaches of your imagination.  But if you knew that already, maybe you know this other gem that I had no idea about.

T is, even for New York standards, a very sophisticated girl. I can't help that I got bored with the goo goo stuff after the first six months and started talking to her like she was about 40 from then on.  And I wasn't even 40 at that time.  So if I had to put it plainly I would say that the eleven year old girls in Lucca are roughly about where I was at when I was nine and T is about as savvy as I was when I was thirteen or fourteen or fifteen even.  Not in terms of girl-boy stuff, she is right where she should be, but in terms of everything else.  It is less of a Italy vs. America thing and more of a really slow moving small city vs. a huge cracked-out fast paced city that never sleeps and drinks red bull all night kind of a city.  She has more in common with the one American girl she met who is leaving in September and who is in all these photos that you've seen, but who she doesn't get to spend much time with since they are in different classes and have different schedules etc.

I had assumed, and everyone told me that T would be a star here. And in a way, she is. But not in the way we thought.  No one her age really cares that she is from NY; so that wasn't the key to instant popularity, as the principal had indicated to me it would be before school started.  Instead professors and other students are a little freaked out by how well she is doing in school compared to the Italian kids considering that she didn't speak the language in September.  It was disappointing to T that the girls here aren't into high fashion in that they don't know the designers or the trends of the season or what is happening on the runways and that they prefer Disney coated, color coordinated sweats to just about anything else. Also my fault. She is certainly the only one among them that voluntarily reads the NY Times or any other newspaper out of curiosity on a regular basis. That would be F's fault. And of course she can recite the dialogue from tv shows like Glee or Modern Family.  Yup, that's me again. We keep telling her that everyone will catch up, but that doesn't make things easier now. That's just suck-ish.

I want her to have a BFF so badly that I thought about moving again. To a bigger city or something. But then she would lose all the safety and independence and everything we've laid the foundation for here.  Here she can march around town the way I couldn't until I was 16 and sneaking around my neighborhood and several others. We would have the document nightmare start all over again and we could never find an apartment special in the way that this one is.  Plus we couldn't guarantee that things would be that much better because in middle school there is always the hidden bully like some video game component that jumps out at you and ends your game before you can even put your name on the high scorers list.  So what's worse: to be surrounded by girls you have more in common with but may be spoiled or mean or to be surrounded by girls who are loyal and mostly good-hearted but who don't get you yet?  F contends that even if there were nice girls who got her in NY we would all be in the rat race for finding her a high school in a way that we won't have to be here, although there are oral exams to contend with after middle school.

I didn't know about this at all and maybe it is a good thing that I didn't because T's happiness is the most important thing to me, more than my own at times --even thought I know that I have to be happy in order for her to be, and I don't know if I could have done all of this work if I had known that she would not have instant happiness here.  F points out that she will be bilingual and be able to work and live anywhere in Europe and have a top notch education and be an attractive candidate for acceptance and financial aid to the best American colleges. F points out that girls grow a lot, and quicker than boys, and sometimes over just one summer.  Now we are facing more than three months off from school. T doesn't want to sign up for summer camp and we don't have the cash to rent a beach house for the summer next to one of her friends.  We are trying for the used car so we can take her places. I know that in the end a BFF is not too much to ask for and that if there is any justice in the world one will butterfly out of a cocoon friend that she has now or from someone new.  But as the immediate gratification poster child from Park Slope via Flushing, I would say sooner rather than later would be preferable.

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