Thursday, April 15, 2010

Germany vs. Italy

I'm part German, part Italian. Growing up, I felt that I was audience to a duel between my German father and Italian mother. "Which nationality was better?" was the perennial question. German cars out-numbered Italian by a wide margin, so score 1 for Germany. But Italian food was the best as far as I was concerned, so score 10 for Italy. Germany is known for precision machinery. But Italy was the birth place of the Renaissance. And so on. And that was the back drop of my childhood.

I remembered all this today at the pizza shop. That was because of how I eat pizza. In New York, you fold your pizza lengthwise so it doesn't flop down. You can eat it with one hand, which, in NY you gotta do. It makes it easy to eat with one hand, leaving the other hand free to hold a drink (so you can eat while standing or walking), or to talk on the phone, or grip the steering wheel. 'Cause in NY, things happen quick, and you always gotta do other stuff when you eat.

My wife has complete disdain for my New York ways, especially the eating pizza part. When our daughter started to copy me today, my wife told her to stop, which (teenager that she is) made her copy me much more intently. Clearly, we were having an effect on her, just like my parents did on me.

My wife and I tend to polarize on some things, such as money, shopping, food, and more money, as described on the following diagram:
My PhilosophyMy Wife's Philosophy
Money: Get a job you can enjoy, live modestly, set aside some income for retirement.Money: Get the highest-paying job you can get, even if it's stressful and demeaning, and then spend all your money on diversions to help you forget what a lousy job you have.
Shopping: Figure out what you need, and which stores carry these items at a reasonable cost, and then buy the items as quickly as possible so as not to inconvenience other family members.Shopping: Go to any trendy store, one that you really like. Mull around for several hours, picking up items that you didn't realize you needed until you actually saw them, and then buy those items, never mind that your husband's legs have become petrified from standing around waiting for you, and that he should stop acting like a child already.
Food: Select unprocessed sources of proteins and fresh or frozen vegetables. Avoid products that contain wheat, dairy, corn, and potatoes, and other inflammatory substances. Stick with low-glycemic foods.Food: If you spend a lot on it, it has to be good food, so it should be good to eat. And anyway, we grew up on macaroni and cheese, Chef Boyardee
and Hamburger Helper. They wouldn't put anything bad into our food, so why can't you eat it, Mr. Picky-Ass-Pants?

I wonder exactly what effect my wife and I have on our daughter, especially when we discuss money, shopping and food in front of her.

One thing I clearly remember from my teenage years was how reluctant I was to show a preference for any girl, at least not in front of my parents. I felt like I'd be under a microscope. I would predict my parents thoughts: "Oh, he likes short girls," or "Oh he likes brown-eyed girls," or "he likes dark girls with hairy arms and large breasts." But I especially couldn't commit to liking any girl with obvious Italian or German qualities. Which was rather a shame since I was most fond of the Italian-looking girls with their thick, dark-brown hair and large, warm brown eyes and somewhat mocha skin tone, and there were a lot of them. But I just couldn't side with the Italians.

Will our daughter's choices in a companion be contaminated by the conflicts between my wife and me? Will she choose a boy with New York mannerism just to annoy her mom?

And what about you? How did your parents' conflicts affect you? Did you find yourself making choices based on whether a parent would approve? Or disapprove? Or did you try to avoid choices altogether?


Rummuser said...

I come from a disfunctional family and though my father now lives with me since my step mother died 17 months ago, my parents had nothing to do with each other since 1971. My father is alienated from his other children and they think that I am daft to have him with me!

My marriage was, I think, a successful one and our 39 year old son, who lives now with me has turned out quite well. He more or less has a fifty fifty split of his parents' genes.

When he was growing up as a teen ager, I was hardly around as I was a high flying executive then, and his mother brought him up more or less single handedly. She obviously did a splendid job!

My home now is three single males of three generations under one roof. My family thinks that one of these days, the home will simply explode!

Square Peg Guy said...

Hi Rummuser:

I've read of your living arrangements before. Your father is lucky to have you in his life!