Several of our friends came over to watch the World Cup Soccer final with us yesterday afternoon. We all have children the same age, which is how we became friends, but now we get together without the kids, who are usually off doing their own thing. It was lovely and low key, with wine, beer, seltzer, sweet-and-salty popcorn and panini fixings from figs and peaches to fresh pesto, basil and mozzarella—a whole lot of gourmet fixings brought by everyone! We each made our own paninis while my husband experimented with a plate of dates stuffed with manchego cheese and wrapped with prusciutto, then grilled. Delicious!
Spain won the final. I was the only one rooting for them. Everyone else was rooting for the Netherlands. But the curious things was, in between the easy banter, every mother present (there were four) would periodically check her cell phone for news of her teen. One was in Vermont at a rap-reggae music festival. One was at Coney Island with his girlfriend. One was at her home. My daughter, of course, was in a small village in Italy, where I later learned she had watched the World Cup final match in a cafe with a large group of teenagers, her host sister's friends who she has spent a lot of time with over the last week.
What was so interesting to me is that all the other mothers appear to be calmer, less anxious women than I know myself to be. But what I realized yesterday is that they worry just as much, they just show it less, and are more able to admit what is out of their control. It was reassuring to discover that I am in the range of normal, and that my current coming to terms with the fact that I cannot really direct the show for my children any longer is simply what comes next in this dance.
My daughter did call us when she got home at midnight her time. She seems to be having an amazing time over there in Italy. She and her group get on very well, and she says her host family is "sosososo nice" to her. Her host sisters friends always include her, she says, even though she cannot speak much of the language. They use signing and Google translate and have taught each other hip phrases and curse words in their respective languages. She seems to be in the thick of teenage life in her small town. She was telling me there is a parking-lot-square in the center of town and all the kids go there to meet. "I mean every single kid in town goes there to meet up and hang out," she said. "There is just no equivalent in New York."
She and her group are visiting Pompeii today. They have one more week of their homestays and then it's on to two weeks of culinary school in Northern Italy.