I’m six years old, and I’m in first grade.
It’s spring, almost summer now.
After school, Mom takes me to the park to play with my classmates.
I’m happy, it’s sunny and the days all seem good to me. The school will be over in a while, too, finally.
At the park we have fun on the swings, we run after the ball, and then we finish playing hide and seek. At a certain hour, however, we all have to go home, mothers are inflexible.
Daddy’s home, he just got home from work. He’s had a shower, he smells good. He’s tired, but I don’t notice it. I’m a child, I can’t see it. Mom always tells me to ask him if he’s tired. He always says no, that he’s not tired and caresses my forehead with smiling. I don’t understand why I have to ask him if he says no. I will understand it later when I’ll grow up, when I’ll try to work too, and I’ll feel tired as soon as I walk through the door. I will realize how much having someone who cares if you are tired or not, that that simple question, can drive away all the tiredness.
I took a shower, and then I sit on the couch next to Daddy. He’s got a book in his hand and his face looks confused. He’s studying for his driver’s license. I like the book. It has a lot of colourful pictures that catch my attention. Daddy’s asking me for help. He asks me what the word “roadway” means. It’s the first time I’ve heard that word. I’m six years old, I’m in the first grade, my vocabulary’s restricted. I find that word very difficult. I can’t help Dad, and I’m sorry. Then he goes and asks our neighbour. She tells him that a roadway is a road, but he doesn’t seem happy with the explanation.
I try to understand what that word means, and in the meantime, I wonder why Dad doesn’t know why he asked me for help? Why did he have to go and ask the neighbour? What about mom? Why doesn’t mom know what the roadway means either?
I’m six years old, I’m in first grade, and that word shows me that mom and dad don’t really know the language of the country we are living. I should have figured that out sooner, I guess. We speak a different language at home than people use on TV. Mom and Dad only use Italian when we’re out. Why can I speak both of them? Maybe I have superpowers.
I will spend that period of my childhood thinking that I am a superhero. That I can speak both the language of my parents and the language of my teachers, my classmates and people on television.
Dad will get his license the first time.
Growing up, I’m going to realize that for some things I can’t ask my mom and dad for help with. There are things about life in Italy they can’t help me with. I should ask my classmates or my teachers for help, but I’d be ashamed to do it because I don’t want to show myself to be different or inferior. Then I’ll end up never asking for help, for any obstacle I have to overcome. Linguistic, physical or psychological.
It will be the others who will ask me for help, who will trust my support, my knowledge. Not me, never.
I like to say that I am a guy who prefers to listen, that makes me uncomfortable asking someone for help.
To be honest, I really have no idea how it works, what needs to be done and whether it’s really worth it.
I haven’t learned how to do it yet, to ask for help.