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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…!

Our Kids’ Identity & My Russian Nightmares

My teens are off on their Russian adventures this week, mixing and mingling with others from Russian-American backgrounds.  Emphasis on Russian.

So what can I do but obsess about the whole thing?

I’m nervous in some ways that they will be absorbed, swallowed up in Russian culture and never emerge again.  It happens.  I know parents who adopted Russian teens and they never made the transition to being part of their family.  They hung out at Russian delis, churches, clubs, wherever… and considered themselves more Russian than American.

Is this bad?  I don’t know.

Do I want this to happen?  I don’t know.

How Russian is too Russian?

I hope that their language abilities continue, and realize that only transpires in organized  classes or in total immersion situations.  Most days, we read, write, and speak Russian, just to keep the mental machinery flowing.  However, that will never substitute for free-flowing ideas and conversations among peers, as well as strangers.

It doesn’t help that I’m babysitting the dogs.  I should have left them with Benedetto who is working at the dacha.  Which means that the dogs have to sleep with me, since I’m the only one around, and now they’re on edge, and fidgety, and nervous, wondering where everyone is.  They wake me up every two minutes, whereas my husband would have slept like a log.

I awake in a cold sweat, visions of having Thanksgiving dinner with gold-toothed in-laws with slurred Russian speech.  This is not good.

There are educated Russians, fashionable Russians, non-alcoholic, non-atheistic Russians, but they do not populate my nightmares.  The shadows of darkness threaten to take away my children who are Russian enough to take-it-or-leave-it.

Probably that’s our goal:  to have the Old Country background and language and culture, without it overtaking and dominating every aspect of every day.

By the second day, I get a text message:  all is well, and the food is great.  The kids enjoy their connectedness, while at the same time understanding their differentness– from those who are very much like them– if that makes sense.  Identity issues are very normal among this age group, and our kids may simply have a few more layers which with to deal.

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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Sybil says:

    I think this is an amazing and wonderful opportunity for them. After all, they are not going to be going to Russian camp when they are 25 years old. This is the time to do it. As they double and triple their ages they came home at, it seems like they will be so immersed in the American culture, just by virtue of living here that the memories of their days at Russian camp will be treasured memories that they are so grateful for.
    P.S. They don’t have dentists at Russian camp do they? If so, sign no release forms for dental work!

    • avatar admin says:

      Ha, ha, ha, good point about the dentists, Sybil! A Russian-American camp (in this instance, at least) is totally unlike any other camp our kids have attended: no medical forms, no liability forms, high level of respect and listening expected from the kids. As the big bus arrived and the kids loaded up, not one parent nor child was speaking English. I think/ hope/ pray they’ll love it, but I’ll give a full report either way! Thanks for the reality check, Sybil, this truly is their window of opportunity. And tomorrow we’re making a sneak visit to the mountains since one of the kids forgot something important….

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