Do less, parents

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This article is published in number 38 of Vanity Fair on newsstands until 21 September 2021

Everything passes, even the school. This year the little girl has maturity and then it’s over. The university – if it will make it – is not worth it: they make do. That’s not true, they never get by, but at least there are no end-of-year essays, interviews with professors, meetings, parents’ chats and snacks to bring.
I think back to the years of kindergarten and elementary school, his and his brother. To anxieties: buy in time the material, the notebooks, the books, the meetings that always fell the only day you absolutely could not but you went there anyway because the sense of guilt, especially if you are working mothers, and almost all we are, he commands.

The anxiety of the snack: as a child I yearned for the sandwich made by my mother – who, while teaching, had no time to waste and gave me a hundred lire to buy me chips – so if the world fell, I always prepared a nice fresh sandwich for my parents, which they forgot to bring it, or they carried it and left it moldy in the satchel, complaining that instead of the sandwich they could not eat snacks “like everyone else”. The chats with the parents, the meetings, the trips, the pizza, the quarrels with the companions, the homework, the absences, did you take the sneakers that today there is physical education? Do you have the vocabulary? Get the trolley that breaks your back! Did you bring the money for the trip? Those for the oranges of the Airc? And for the theater? And the lice! Seven exhausting years of lice, foam, combing, washing with vinegar, relapses, which in the end you became fond of lice as pets. But what if I didn’t do anything, how did my mother do it to me? Would it have been better, worse, the same? Perhaps my mother, who was a teacher and taught classes of forty children in the 1960s, had enough statistical examples to understand that distracted and confident attention on the part of parents is best. And that so much is always wrong. The advice I would like to give to mothers who are about to face a new school year is the usual one, the discovery of hot water: do less, everything will be fine anyway.

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