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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…!

Driving and Dating

Our kids span in age from 11.5 to 15.5 years old.  Enough said.  Therefore, the topics of our conversations could provide fodder for numerous comedy shows… or condolence cards.  Take your pick.

One day, Pasha was hitting himself in the head, perhaps to wake up, perhaps to reassure himself that he was alive, I have no idea.  I’ve heard the phrase, “I’m going to smack you upside the head”, but never actually seen someone do it to himself.  Benedetto asked him to stop and our son couldn’t grasp why his behavior was out of the ordinary.  At that point, his father let him know that he should not even think of learning to drive until he was 40 years old or so.

We use the idea of learning to drive as a carrot when all else fails.  Though the two boys both will turn 16 in the fall, I think that only one may be zipping around town any time soon.

“The driving test administrator will take one look at you and your antics, and will refuse to get into the car with you.  He’ll think you’re crazy,” Benedetto explained.

“But you can tell him I’m not,” Pasha replied.

“I’m not going to be with you.  When you’re ready to take the road test, you go by yourself,” his father said patiently.

“But you have to be in the car with me,” he puzzled.

“Not when you take the exam.  You’re on your own.”

This was troubling news.  Pasha had never heard anything like it.  Now he was very concerned that there was not going to be anyone running interference for him.

Which led us to dating.  Our kids come from backgrounds where their poverty-stricken birth parents knew nothing about dating, but focused a lot of time on mating.  Time to reverse that trend and plant the seeds of success.  In the culture around us, that might be an uphill battle.

Mashenka was reading “The Diary of Anne Frank” for school, which one would think would be a fairly noncontroversial book, while along with Anne, she rhapsodized about Peter and the feel of his cheek against hers.  We’ve insisted that the kids read aloud because many of the English words are necessarily foreign and unless we stop them and make them look up the words or discuss them, they actually think that they’re grasping the text.

“Two is company and three is crowd,” Mashenka reads.

I interrupt, since she usually leaves out all articles and reads rapid-fire, comprehension or no comprehension.

“You realize that this is all in her head, right?  Peter’s not so interested in her, but she’s sure that he must secretly be in love with her….  Do you understand what the phrase means, ‘Two’s company, three’s a crowd’?” I ask.

“Yes, Mama,” she tries to figure it out on the spot.  “There was not a lot of room for three people to sit together.”

“Okay, that’s a good try.  But it means something different, too.  It means that I like being with this other person, and why is this third person hanging around, trying to distract from our time together?  In other words, I wish the third person would just leave.”


At which point our schoolroom erupts into a dating seminar.  The kids want to know when they can date.

“Never,” says Benedetto, “we’ll arrange your marriages for you.”


“What’s wrong with that?  It makes a lot of sense,” he argues.  “So many people get divorced these days, you’d probably have the best chance if I chose your spouses for you.”

Knowing their intellectual and reasoning capacities, the man might have a point.

“Okay, let’s play a game,” I suggest.  “We’re a group of new friends, and we decide to go out for ice cream together.  Let’s practice getting to know each other.  Let’s say that I toss out a question, so that everyone participates.  The question is called an ice-breaker, and helps people to talk when they really don’t know what to say.”

“Yes!” they enthuse, more than ready to tackle any subject outside of academics.

“Alright, here’s the question:  If time and money were no object, in other words, they didn’t matter at all, what would you want to do?  Remember, this is the one thing you want to tell me so that I will get to know you better.”

Sashenka’s hand pops up, “Walk in the woods!”

Trying not to be judgmental, I avoid making any comments about their creativity, or lack thereof.

Mashenka’s next.  “Have my own band.”

For someone who does not know how to sing, nor how to play a musical instrument, perhaps we’re becoming more creative than I thought.

Pasha has no idea whatsoever, also par for the course.

“We’ll come back to you….”

Petya says he’d like to travel the world and try new foods.

After much prodding, we return to Pasha who decides that, if he could do anything in the whole world, one day he would like to go on a date.

“Well, you might not want to say that,” I squirm, “especially when you’re just getting to know a new group of friends.”

“Why not?” he wonders.

“Because they’ll all know you’re a big Loser!” Sashenka tells him, as both girls hold their fingers in big L signs over their foreheads.

Why I have these conversations in the first place is anyone’s guess….

“Alright, this is what I’ve found out about you, because remember, in order to find the right spouse in life, you have to know yourself first—what you enjoy doing, who you really are, where you’re headed in life….”  I share.

“So, Sashenka, you’re telling me that you enjoy the outdoors.  Mashenka, you told me that you must be very good at singing or playing an instrument.  Pasha, you said that you don’t know yourself very well and you’re just hoping that some girl will come along and like you.  Petya, you like adventure and new things don’t scare you.”

With that, three out of four appear stricken, and possibly prone to postponing any thoughts of dating anytime soon.  And hopefully, driving, too.

Mission accomplished.

Would you like your kids to come by for a little chat?



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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Sybil says:

    I vote with Benedetto for the arranged marriages – lol.
    I just asked my daughter the same question that you asked your children, “If time and money were no object, what would you want to do.” She thought for about 20 seconds and her reply was, “I would want to bring my family all together – that means both families”. I hope her wish comes true someday and I think it is possible in her case.

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