March 8, 2011 The Struggle to Raise a Child

Posted in Rodger's Russia Book | Posted by rodger |

It is a constant struggle to raise a child here. The children are raised by Mamas and Babas (grandmothers) who feel that it they have the sole responsibility to make certain that the child is raised right.
Of course, they know that such burning questions like “Am I hungry?”, “Am I cold?”, and,” Do I need to pee?” cannot be left to mere children. ONLY BABA KNOWS!
In our house, breakfast and dinner times are a battle with Baba insisting that the child IS hungry and must eat more and the kid saying “Enough. My mouth is full, my tummy is full and I am FULL!” Half of the time Baba ends up angry and the other half, the kid gets too full to walk away from the table. Papa concentrates on teaching the kid to say “ENOUGH!” in at least three languages and tackling Baba before the kid explodes.
Today, I had to stop Baba from feeding Sonia a “second breakfast” at 10:00 after Sonia fought her to a standstill at 8:30 by refusing to eat more than one egg, two cherry tomatoes, a slice of toast, and some cucumber.
Peeing is the same. If Sonia takes a nap at 2:00, Baba will wake her up from a sound sleep at 3:00 because it is TIME TO PEE!, You need to pee! The child normally cries until she realizes that it she won’t be allowed to sleep until she cooperates. Baba and Mama patiently explain to Papa that a three year old has no way of knowing when they have to pee, while Papa asks over and over, then why does she get the potty out every few hours to pee? Answer, “That doesn’t count, because Everyone Knows!”
According to Russian mothers, the deadliest thing in Russia – worse than drunk drivers, tuberculosis, second hand smoke, and criminals combined – is cold air. Any child allowed to leave the house without pantaloons, boots, and at least three layers of clothing before July or after September will DIE BY MORNING! Now that it is May, the weather is balmy and Sonia constantly has wet hair from dressed in a wool cap when the outside temperature is 65 degrees. Papa concentrates on showing Sonia the joy of being barefoot in the house and helping her take off her coat as soon as we leave the house.
Russians refuse to believe that any child has functioning temperature sensors in their skin or hunger nerves or functioning bladder control until at least the age of nine. So, raising a child in Russia is a constant struggle, not just with poverty, but between each child and every parent to decide “When do I need to pee?”

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