As an expat mom in Italy, you are initially confused, then bemused, by many parenting practices in the land of Mamma Mia. But as the years go by and the kids grow older, you suddenly realize that you yourself have adopted what you had previously dismissed as idiocies -- but now just fondly call Italian Idiosyncrasies.
1) Having initially taught your kids the routine of wet wipes after going to the bathroom, you find yourself explaining that the bidet is actually a practical instrument for cleansing nether regions and not a small-persons' washbasin.
2) You used to pity the Italian kids at the beach waiting patiently for their three hour post-prandial curfew to expire before they could swim, but now catch yourself sheepishly telling your little ones, "Wait a bit before going in the water since you're digesting." (Good luck explaining that to a toddler.)
3) You have been drinking cold drinks for years without suffering gastrointestinal disasters, but now find yourself telling your kids they will get a tummy ache if they drink juice straight from the fridge.
4) You were once adamant about early bed times, but come those languid Mediterranean summer evenings, you see the advantage of your kids staying up late and just plopping them into bed with not a bedtime story in sight.
5) You used to think afternoon snacks should consist of fruit or a brown bread sandwich, but now find your kids eat gelato or pizza as "merenda" on an almost daily basis.
6) You start wondering just how bad doubting Nutella can really be for kids, after hearing mum upon Roman mum declare that if generations of Italians have been brought up on it, surely it cannot be that detrimental to your health.
7) You start accepting it's pretty much the norm to spend summer holidays at the seaside with relatives, rather than seeking out new and adventurous global destinations.
8) You find yourself wondering how it is that Italian women give birth to healthy babies, though nobody in this country ever mentions caffeine and alcohol restrictions during pregnancy.
9) After doggedly weaning your first child on a salt-free diet, you wean your next ones with parmigiano -- possibly one of the saltiest cheeses you've tasted, but apparently a key baby food that all Italian pediatricians swear by.
10) You start forgetting arthritis is a tad rare in kids, and all of a sudden find yourself insisting they use hair dryers even in the middle of summer, for fear their wet tresses might cause them to become afflicted by "cervicale" -- neck rheumatisms.