Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Tough Week for a Princess

In my university classes, we've been reviewing the hazards of gender specific toys and my students have been writing on how market driven princess paraphernalia can negatively (or not) influence a girl's personality and ambitions. As a mother of a 5 yr old daughter with a love for everything 'princess' this gives me food for thought. So today I asked Eliot: "So, what do you want to be when you grow up?" She usually answers: "Teacher or a mother." So, with a reassured feeling, I asked: "You don't want to be a princess, do you?" With a look of awe, she wondered:
"I can be a princess?!!" Not exactly the thought process I was hoping to put in motion. Very smooth, I know. Job well done.
Earlier in the week, I tried helping Eliot confront her fear of the school bathroom. I accompanied her in to show her that "no sweetie, there are no monsters coming out of the toilet." At which, she pointed to a sign which, in fact, clearly depicted monsters coming out of a toilet. What? The wording underneath the picture said: "If you do not flush the toilet bacteria (monster looking creatures) will come."
Unfortunately, most five year old children cannot read yet. The sign has since been removed.
It's not easy being five.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


There's something wonderful about January in Singapore. I mean, where else can you go swimming in an outdoor pool? (That would be the kids, not me.)
A perfect ending to a perfect day, I watched "Nuovo Cinema Paradiso," a movie I had not seen in years. In fact, the last time I saw it I was a college student at Vassar, eager to explore the world beyond the medieval walls of my hometown Verona. But, as I watched the movie now, I was surprised at how different I felt, how relevant the themes were. The film, about a very successful director who looks back on his childhood, takes place in Bagheria, Sicily, the hometown of the director, Giuseppe Tornatore. It's not a huge leap of the imagination to assume some details are biographical and imagine how difficult it must have been for the young filmmaker Tornatore to leave Siciliy (or even Federico Fellini, when he was forced to leave his hometown of Rimini, years before) in order 'to make it'. It is very touching and poignant when the protagonist remembers how his old friend Alfredo, the projectionist of the town's popular movie house, had encouraged him as a young man to make his way in the world. At the train station, as he was boarding a train for the big city, Rome, Alfredo admonishes: "never come back here, forget about us, and most importantly..."non farti fregare dalla nostalgia" ("don't let nostalgia fool you.")
I think how relevant Alfredo's words are for myself and my friends here in Singapore, and wonder how many are forced, at times, to stifle homesickness and bury idealized childhood memories...