December 2, 2023 | Rome, Italy

Good luck, son

By |2018-03-21T19:49:18+01:00March 31st, 2016|Lifestyle Archive|
Scuola media in Italy usually covers ages 11 to 14 and begs the question, "what next."

t what point did you decide what you wanted to be as an adult Unfortunately, some of us still haven’t figured it out.

For my children in Italian school the pressure is already on midway through the media, or junior high school. Mandatory education ends at age 16 in Italy. For those who have absolutely no idea where their destiny lies, it can all be a bit bewildering.

While my eldest son is determined and decisive, my second son has struggled with his next step. He was being forced to move on to high school with no idea what he wanted to move on to.

So many Italian children in the Le Marche region of Italy where I live have their futures all but mapped out for them. Many follow their father’s footsteps. Or maybe there’s an uncle who’s a chemist or perhaps even a family business that they’re expected to take on.

I used to have some sympathy for them. What if they wanted to be an astronaut or the next prime minister (please)?

But I’m now beginning to see that for some kids this sense of specific direction is gift. Having that direction helps when nearly half the country’s twenty-something youth is unemployed.

As for my second son, the decision was finally taken out of his hands. Teachers from a local school visited our house (no easy trek) and specifically asked him if he’d attend. In the absence of an appealing alternative, he acquiesced.

It was a mistake, and now we’re again compelled to ask the “what do you want do with your life” questions. It’s no easier.

All this has convinced me that those of us who have a good idea of what they want are the ones who have life sussed, as much as any of us can. The pursuit of happiness just isn’t enough. Having some idea of what will make you happy is the Holy Grail

I myself tried on a few hats. But I did eventually find my vocation, teaching small children using the Montessori method. It was pure chance and I’m grateful.

My son needs to choose now and lacks the benefit of hindsight. I can’t help wishing that my brother owned a pharmacy, but sadly he’s a journalist. It makes sense that my young son is already more than half way through his first novel. The writing urge is there. But what to do with it is a question that’s increasingly hard to answer.

I’m limiting myself to, “Good luck, son.”

About the Author:

Lucy Brignall's "The Farm" column appeared between 2012 and 2016.