Italy and Babies
More and more I am heading outside with the Veronica. Winter has arrived and I can see my breath as I exhale. It has not stopped me from bundling her up and taking her for walks in her stroller. If I have a quick errand and do not want to deal with bumpy sidewalks then I put her in her sling. When we are out and about buying bread, visiting the butcher or picking up fruits and vegetables, we run into people who are dying to have a look at Veronica. It seems everybody in Italy (Torino) loves babies.
At the park, people crane their necks to get a peek at her in her stroller, as she lies sleeping. Old ladies crowd around me to get a look at a Chinese baby. Her head full of hair evokes “oohhs” and “ahhhs” wherever we go. My status in Italy seems to have elevated a bit now that I have a baby. I find that cars stop for me at crosswalks more often now than they did before. I am greeted with smiles frequently when they realize I am carrying a baby. My neighbors want to know how old she is and they ask me her name. As Veronica gets older and is more able to stay awake and interact with her surroundings, I will be curious to see how she will be received in various situations.
Some of my ex-pat friends who live in Italy have told me they find it’s very “child friendly” here. One particular friend told me that after having nursed her child in Italy, she went back to the United States for a quick visit and felt uncomfortable with the glances she received as she nursed in public there. In addition, I have been told many fancier hotels and restaurants in the US do not like and will not accept small children as guests/customers. After our trip to Seattle in March, I will be able to do a proper comparison. I will say this however, when I lived in the States and went out at night, I would often frowned upon parents who were out with their children past eight or nine o’clock. I was making a judgment call then and assumed they were bad parents because they kept their kids up past her bedtimes.
Here in Italy it’s common to see young children walking with her parents, having dinner and staying out as late as 11 or 12 o’clock in the evening. Demetrio tells me he would like to raise Veronica in the Mediterranean way, in which children are taken everywhere with their parents. I told them I would like a 50-50 compromise. Maybe when I head back to the States others will frown upon me as I bounced Veronica on my knee while I eat dinner at half past 10.
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