Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Rite of Passage - Italy

Various cultures and religions celebrate their youth rites of passage with solemn regard, religious interpretation, and/or ecstatic celebration. In the general U.S. population, I can't quite put my finger on what is the rite of passage for the youth. If you count the prom, then that's the teen going off on their own to celebrate independence and hopefully not in ways that would make your eye twitch. But, to me, a rite of passage is when there is a transformation from one stage or status to another in the presence or help of the parent/guardian.

In this case, the elder, that would be me, takes the young grasshopper, that would be my daughter, and accompanies her on a life-changing journey.

What better way for this rite of passage to begin than with a trip to Milan!

First, I shared the decision with family and friends. For some whose minds couldn't grasp the scope of this adventure, they were told that I was accompanying my daughter to Italy so she could go to a rock band concert. Of course, they probably also thought that was a bit much.

But for those who didn't waste time casting judgment, or rather wasted time on sharing their opinions with me, they knew that I was heading to Italy to see one of my new, favorite German rock gods--Tokio Hotel--and I was taking my daughter. She would miss school, but how often would she get this opportunity on my dime.

Our trip to Oz, as it took on that dream-like quality because I couldn't believe that I was going to Italy within the month, had a cast of characters. The group consisted of three other women with the added twist that we'd never met each other, except online in the fan forum. However once the decision was made to head to Italy, we organized beyond my capabilities. One woman created an Excel spreadsheet with every piece of information minus our bra sizes. She then had weekly conference calls with us, using webinar technology so we could see her screen as she moved through each tab on the spreadsheet to fill in any missing information and delegate further duties. I was on hotel assignment. I spent two intense days finding selections of hotels, we stayed in four hotels. Another woman was like the general of the group. She made sure we ate, were hydrated, etc. She would have been great as a chaperone on a senior class trip. The third woman was low keyed, had toured with other bands, and had mad skills with her professional camera.

For the entire trip, I couldn't believe that I was going to Milan for a rock concert. Who does that? Well in Europe we met lots of people who travel from one country to the next with no hesitation. I guess it would be like going from New York to Florida to Texas. However, our little group seemed to fascinate many of the parents whose inner child seemed to be on hiatus as they patiently sat in the middle of the screaming fans unfazed by the music or the surrounding energy.

That didn't stop us. I'd already taken my daughter to her first rock concert last year to see Fall Out Boy, so she knew that I could rock out with the best of them. At the first concert in Turin/Torino, she and I screamed and danced shoulder to shoulder. We showed a group of teeny boppers standing near us what rocking out really meant. We would scream and then they would lean over to look at us before screaming (and never at the same decibel). If we danced around, they would look, analyze, and then copy. I took the whole thing as a form of flattery.

By the second concert in Padova, we were exhausted, but determined that we could do this all over again. This time my daughter opted to head for the seats because standing on the floor with her small stature would not have given her a good vantage point. She later learned that the seats weren't better when people stood to see the stage.
By the end of the concert, when we reunited (I stayed on the floor and went into my own euphoric zone), she couldn't stop grinning. Her expression was priceless. Immediately we headed to the vendor. I bought a poster for my new office. She got an oversized flag with the group's image.
We shared our thoughts about this concert, which was even better than the one in Torino. The crowd came ready to engage with the group and celebrate. Somehow, our little group bonded over this concert as we tiredly and quite noisily made our way back to our hotel.
My daughter loves hanging around adults more than her peers, so being in the middle of the fab over 40 group talking about any and everything that came up suited her. Now she got to hear the same messages from other women than me. It was the modern version of tribal elders imparting wisdom to a young one.

The trip wrapped up back in Milan where we shopped. I'm not a shopper because I don't have the patience. If I like an outfit, I will buy it. I'm not going to ponder, comparison shop or anything. As we wandered through the fashion district, we'd enter a store, I'd pull out a couple things that I thought she'd like, she'd shake her head and we'd move on. I realized that her penchant for random, mismatched, tomboyish styles had morphed into a bolder, edgier fashion style of layered, textured fabric with odd patterns. Her eventual wish for a nose piercing and tats would complete this young, alternative rock look. When I found the perfect black leather jacket and described the all black outfit that would look good with Converses or ankle boots, I knew that we'd reached the finale level to the rite of passage.
After nine days, my daugher under the tutelege of four females of varied backgrounds and experiences had elevated from just a regular teen to young adult. Her fashion sense had emerged with its own flair crafted in the designer paradise of Milan.

Keep your head up, Little Bits. The world is waiting one fashion item at a time.
Michelle Monkou
Trail of Kisses - Available now

Kimani Romance
RT Review - 4 stars


  1. It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip - How exciting for you and your daughter. My daughter and I have some of the same taste in music, but the closest we have come to rocking out together is playing the White Stripes down Maryland's Rt. 50! (lol)

  2. Michelle you became the coolest mom this year. What a nice way to hang with your daughter. Sounds like you had a great time.

    The farthest I've driven was from Florida to Missouri to see Johnny Gill. Yeah I'm a diehard fan of JG.

    Going to another country had to be wonderful. Now you have me wanting to hear this group. I think I have to find them on google.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. "It was the modern version of tribal elders imparting wisdom to a young one." Wow! I love it. What a wonderful adventure and truly awesome rite of passage for your young grasshopper. ;) You are truly the model cool mom! I dare not tell my own boys about this one . . . yet! Great post.

  4. Now your teen knows love is not a destination; it's a journey. And her mom wanted her along for the ride. Here's to all her trips to come!

  5. What a wonderful mother-daughter experience! You have created wonderful memories for you and your daughter and have probably started a tradition that can be passed down through the generations.

  6. Gawd this makes me soooo nostalgic for those days with my girls (now grown women). We never took off for Milan, but I made sure to give both of them adventurous days when we called in sick to school (and work) and kicked up our heels. I miss it!!

  7. hmm... wish my parents had been inspired the same way, particularly as dad was into Scottish bagpipe music and mom loved opera... we coulda had a European vaca!!! Instead of hieing off to Perry High School to hear their bagpipe marching band.

    Can't wait to read the book that comes out of this... never 2 old, hmm?

  8. Ladies, let your inner child run freeeee!! Have an adventure. I think it refreshes you to face life. I want my daughter to learn to live, love, and laugh...a lot.