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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Close Quarters

How much do you know of of your children’s lives?  We think we know their friends, their habits, their strengths and weaknesses.  I speak this as one of two parents who probably spend a combined 23 hours a day with our kids (if not more).

I know nothing about them.

After spending all of a couple of days on a supposed vacay in close quarters, I realize that there are many unknown quantities about some of them.  How crazy is that?

It turns out that, given today’s lifestyles, most of our children live behind closed doors.  May be the bathroom door, the bedroom door, away at school or sports, but they are forming life opinions and habits that have very little to do with what we’re trying to impart to them.

We arrive at our intended destination when my gaze falls upon Pasha’s ratty tennis shoes, falling apart like a flapping clown shoe.  I’m horrified.  I would not have him put manure over the garden in these kinds of shoes, much less travel halfway around the world (or town) wearing such beat-up footwear.

“What’s with your shoes?” I gasp, trying to keep it together.  “Didn’t I just buy you new tennis shoes?”

“That was in the other place, not here,” his confused mind conjectures.

Naturally, this is my fault.  I, in my beneficence, decided to buy the children ANOTHER PAIR OF TENNIS SHOES, so that they have not one, but two pairs.  They will not need to take their same tennis shoes back and forth from one home to another.  This splurge was based on the fact that some were wearing their dress shoes 24/7, and I felt that they should have leisure time to run around and not destroy their good shoes.

“Okaaay,” I reason.  “So if I bought you new tennis shoes, and your old ones in the other location were falling apart, wouldn’t you bring your nice tennis shoes on a special trip?  Why haven’t you told me that these shoes had holes in them?” I wonder.

“Papa knows.”

“And Papa is a very busy man,” I explain, trying to keep my blood from boiling.  “You need to tell Mama.”

And thus, we are in our vacation destination, heading out at the crack of dawn to purchase cheap tennis shoes for Pasha, who will no doubt destroy them in no time flat.  I take a photo of the old shoes for Benedetto’s benefit, because he will never believe that I go through these escapades, and then order Pasha to put on the new shoes, and pitch the ratty shoes in the nearest trash can.

It’s the same day that I’m preparing breakfast in our cute condo.  I have one bedroom/bath, the boys have the other bedroom/bath, and the girls have taken the fold-out living room couch that the boys generally would use.  They are much taller and bigger than the girls, so we’re trying a new idea.

Without the girls hiding out in their own bedroom/bath, I get to see them up close and personal.  Sashenka comes out of the shower, fully dressed, and starts to comb her long hair in the living room.  Problem is, she’s not combing it.  She’s ripping through it with her big brush.

“Sashenka, where’s your comb?” I ask.

“At home,” she shrugs.

Dumb question, dumb answer.

“You need to comb your hair,” I explain.  “Otherwise, you’re just ripping it out.  Find a comb.”

Her sister comes out, does basically the same, and I realize that all of their “Yes, Mama” responses are just to get the nagging wah-wah-wah noises away from their vicinity.  They have no intention of doing anything I say.  At all.  Ever.

It’s then that I hear, yet again, their hairdryer flicking on and off, about five times in rapid succession.

“Girls, I’ve told you before, that’s how you burn up the motor.  Just turn it on, or turn it off, not off-on, off-on, off-on.”

“Yes, Mama.”

And thus it goes on and off about 20 more times.

The next day, we’re all up at 4:00 a.m., preparing to depart.  I see Sashenka yet again ripping through her hair and I stop her.  Mashenka is still in the bathroom, and she then waltzes out, as though in her right mind, not even bothering to take comb, or brush, to her tresses.

“Mashenka!” I shout over the dryer.

On-off, on-off, on-off.

“What are you doing?  You need to comb your hair.  Why didn’t you comb your hair?”  I’m semi-disgusted by the matted hair being blown-dry, as though she’s in her right mind.

“We’re in a hurry,” she looks at me with wide eyes as though willing me to believe her tall tale.

“Did I say we were in a hurry?” I question.  “I’m in a hurry every day, but I comb my hair, and brush my teeth.  Every day.”

She harumphs, showing her utter displeasure at being forced to comply with my capricious wishes.

“Well, I guess we could just chop off all the hair, and then you girls would not have to deal with it.”

Rip – rip – rip, goes the comb through the hair.  There’s nothing gentle in their vocabulary.

“You know,” I continue, “we can get all of the nice haircuts possible, but as long as you rip through your hair, you break all of the ends, and it results in a mess.”

On-off, on-off, on-off, goes the hairdryer.

At breakfast, I give the girls a lesson in using a dryer.  They do not understand the settings and say that this is something that the dryer does on its own, it’s certainly not THEM turning it on and off-!

“Don’t even ask to learn to drive, or anything like that,” I counsel.  “If you can’t control a teeny-tiny hairdryer, there’s no way you’ll ever control a big, bad car weighing thousands of pounds,” I shake my head.

I’ve heard of parents removing bedroom doors and taking rash steps to get their kids back under control.  We generally don’t have extreme behavioral issues.  But maybe we don’t have the level of compliance we think we have-?

It’s only when we’re forced into close quarters that I glimpse their true modus operandi.  I need a vacation.

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6 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Margie says:

    Great article and so true!!! I was smiling the whole time!

  2. avatar AP says:

    Take me with you!

  3. I just laughed so much that Jupiter came over to see what I was laughing at. Then I had to send her to the bathroom to rinse out her mouth because she was sticking her tougue into the brown marker cap and thus had brown ink all over her tongue. Last week was even better: she had bright pink sparkly lips and I couldn’t figure out why because I thought I had removed any and all makeupish things from the house. Turned out it was glitter glue. “But Mom, I THOUGHT it was lip gloss.” She DID NOT. I KNOW she didn’t. But as soon as I talk, she can’t hear me anymore. And like you say; has no intention of doing anything I say. Ever.

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