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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…!

Divide and Conquer

This is Part II. So I took them out for ice cream yesterday, oh yes, I did.  The three younger kids were wonderful all day after that initial hour from hell, of course.  The day went something like this.

Breakfast.  Oldest daughter glowering and hunched over, refused to look at me.  Oh joy, it’s going to be a great day.

“Are you alright, Mashenka?”

No response.

“Uh, did you not hear me?”


“Would you like to talk about it?”


“Okay, then maybe you can take 5 minutes, it’s not a problem, just go and get yourself together, and then come and rejoin us,” I suggested.


“Okay, let’s have a talk about your father, then.  This is an important subject because it’s about love, as well.  I know you guys are young and you feel that you have to show your loyalty to Papa by letting me know that you will die without being near him for a few hours today.  But that’s not love.

“Let’s say that I have a boyfriend (this is not for real, alright?  This is make believe.).  My boyfriend wants to go and help starving children in ________, wherever, another country, you decide where, but he will be gone for one whole month.  So I throw a fit.  I whine, and scream and wail, just to prove to him how much I love him.  I call him 20 times a day and ask him not to go.  Do you think this will make him love me more?”

This resulted in a discussion about what did, and did not, constitute love for another person– how to express love, how not to stifle another person when they had things to do in life, also.

We moved from there to a discussion of “fairness”, very important to kids in the preteen and early teen years.

“I realize you guys feel that you’ve been stuck with Baba Yaga today, and I’m sorry that you feel that way.  I understand that you had bad times with birth mothers and that now you think of me… as her… even though I’ve never done any of those bad things to you.  What if when we found out that Papa and Petya had to be gone for the day, what if I threw a fit, just like you guys?  What if I said, “Waaaaah!  Why do I have to be stuck with these losers?  Why am I expected to put up with their ugly faces and tantrums?  Waaaah!  But instead, I never said one bad thing about you…” I tried to get them to see another side.

Enlightenment was dawning.  I spoke quietly and calmly, refusing to enter into any histrionics.

“And girls, we planned an outing for later this month.  We were going to a special breakfast, and I asked if you wanted to go.  You said yes, so I made reservations.  Now I’ve come to find out that you don’t want to be with me at all, you probably just said yes so that you could have a big piece of sausage-!  How do you think that makes me feel?  Like you only want to be around me for what you can get out of me?”

Their eyes widened.  This medicine woman was speaking truth from her teepee. We segued into a Bible study examining a few verses regarding thinking about others’ needs before our own.  By now, everyone was participating and the situation had turned around.

We had a delightful lunch and dinner.  They took an hour to work on the front garden and trimmed a few plants with scissors, pulled some weeds, and made way for the tulips and hyacinths bursting on the scene, all to surprise their beloved papa and demonstrate their love for him… in a positive way.

Benedetto had been scheduled to speak that evening, and I took that engagement for him.  The children sat like angels with pleasant looks on their faces while I held forth.  I congratulated them afterwards and asked if they’d like to go out for ice cream.

Licking their cones and cups, Pasha commented, “Mama, you’re not Baba Yaga at all-!”

Um, how many years did it take you to come to that conclusion?

Meanwhile, our other guys were in three different airports twice in one day (which makes six altogether if I still have enough gray cells to calculate that high), traveling there and back in record time.  They got stuck in storms, their flights boarded, then deboarded 15 minutes later, then delayed, missed connections, and rebooked.  They were commanded not to leave the gate area and were hungry.  For about 20 hours, from 4:00 am until midnight they were able to eat a small burrito bowl and a slice of pizza, while filming a promotional video with dozens of takes.  All in a day’s work.

Benedetto’s cell phone battery teeters at zero, so he doesn’t call us, while he sends me e-mails from his computer, so intent on following the stock market on his phone.

“Here’s a thought:  why not recharge the phone?” I offer.

“No time,” he dismisses.  “We did recharge early in the morning, but we were on the run the whole day after that.”

No matter that I packed disposable toothbrushes, chapstick, hair gel, face cleanser, and assorted other items, they didn’t take two minutes to use anything I provided for them.  Yep, those are my guys.  Look away for one minute and all my well-laid plans bite the dust.  They go straight into manly-man mode.

“We were fine,” Benedetto reports.  “Your son did a fantastic job.”

“We were fine,” Petya echoes.  “Really.  Just kind of hungry.”

I narrow my eyes at both.  It’s now after midnight, I have driven around the airport loop a zillion times, there are three sleeping kids and two out-of-their-minds dogs in the car, overjoyed that the guys are back.  We give them (the men-folk) something to eat as the others head for bed.

All is well.  We survived one day apart.  I like it better when I’m the one traveling and my lists are posted prominently at home, although I remember the time I had to stop by the home of one of my managers in Israel.  His wife was gone for the week and she had left signs everywhere telling them, “Don’t pile dishes sky-high!”  “Take out the trash every other day!”  “Put your dirty clothes in the hamper!” etc., and he and his sons had violated every single one of them, he pointed out with glee.

It’s a man thing.  And it’s the same the world over.  All the same, we’re happy they’re home.



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6 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Sybil says:

    Superb results – huge impacts that got through clearly to the kids left at home while Papa and Petya were away. You did so good!

  2. avatar Linda says:

    oh my… You are so great!
    Do you ever get annoyed and angry when you know you shouldn’t?
    Please tell me, you’re not always calm and smart…

    I do admit it’s easier when there’s a reason, for our son, one of the hardest things is to get new things… He loves them, but will always, always try to pick a fight… It’s exhausting…
    His papa bought him a new comic and with in 5min of getting it, he was trying to get us to take it off him, he started with me at first, moaning, laying on the floor, screaming fake crying… I kept it cool and he turned to his papa… For over 1hour he tried…
    Then again, I guess we should be happy it was only an hour… When we where in St.Petersburg and waited for all the papers to be legal, his papa did a big mistake… bought him a big duplo box… It went on for 2 days… And as he had just arrived to our family we had no idea why… just that the duplo was built up and it was wrong, what ever we did, it was so so wrong…
    So from 2 days to an hour in 16Months, not too bad I guess…
    hmm… writing this made me feel a lot better, thanks… =D
    Now to give breakfast for the boy, then speech therapy and then off to look at wedding dresses with my friend who’s getting married this autumn…

    Hope you have a nice day!

    • avatar admin says:

      No matter how I spin it, Linda, I am a mere mortal. I TELL myself to be calm and smart because I feel anything but that! Your son has made amazing progress and it really does help to look at the overall picture, doesn’t it?

      Well, breakfast, speech, and wedding dresses… sounds like it couldn’t be a better day. We’ve had some amazing things happen today, too, and just got in at 4 am to our dacha. Time for bed! More later….

      • avatar Linda says:

        no, you can’t leave it at that… some amazing things happening and then not tell what…

        You are right though, I was thinking about the progress our boy has made in the time he’s been with us… It’s amazing how well he has settled all in all…
        To compare what it was like in November/December 2010 to what we have today…

        I was so proud of my son today… He was so so good all day… First sitting in a car for 3h, with only one 10min stop, so he could go to the toilet… Then sitting a bridal shop for over 3h… well mostly sitting, but hey, he’s only 5…
        Then driving home again, an other 3h, with only one 15min stop… And if we don’t count that one little outbreak he had in the car on the way home, he was so so good all day…
        But most of all, for the first time EVER, when I asked why he tried to hit me, he didn’t say “I don’t know”, well he did, but then when we talked about it he actually said that it was because he felt mad at me…
        This is the first time ever he has said that he was mad and that’s why…
        I was so happy he said that, I almost told him I’ll give him a present when we get home… but then I actually just said, that I’m very happy that he understands that he tried to hit me because he was feeling mad… But do we accept hitting in our family? No, we don’t… So there will be no tv when we get home…
        So he lost 30min of tv time, but by the sound of the crying you would have thought I sold the tv…
        Okay, now bed… As have a busy day tomorrow as well… we’re of to the Irish Embassy for a party… =D Should be fun, I hope…

        • avatar admin says:

          Okay, I’ll write about it, lol! Nine hours of togetherness and 3 of it in a bridal shop-?! That’s amazing. Have fun at the party! One of our kids has just figured out the green clothes thing….

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