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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…!

Petya Presses On

Do you have multiple kids?  Even if you have one child, you know some of the pressure to measure-up—whether in school, on the playground, in sports.  How does your son or daughter compare?  And what about sibling rivalry?

Petya is the type of teen who raises the standard high. Well, this week the standard went up several more notches.  I’m exhausted just thinking about it, as well as running him here and there.

It’s not enough that the guy does well in 10th grade, acing all of his exams.  He also takes college CLEP tests, racking up university credits right and left for pennies on the dollar.  He helps other adoptees by talking through their problems, hopes, or dreams, scheduling Skype calls from his website at www.russianrescue.com.  Now, he’s planning his professional career.

Not that a 15-year-old really knows anything about what they may pursue, of course.  He enjoys computer work, he excels in the sciences, but he really loves archaeology.  This is where Benedetto started out years ago and we hesitated to encourage this interest, fascinating though it may be, due to most of the jobs being abroad.  But as any liberal arts degree, it could be the foundation for any number of other careers, so for the present, we’ve all decided to go with the flow and see if he’s truly interested in all facets of the field.

You already know about his three volunteer jobs in history, archaeology, and researching for archaeology.  The first project is about 75% finished, the second is ongoing, and the third job he is completing with a massive final report.  Time for new things, right?

Well, after flying cross-country to appear in the promotional video for one of his activities, he and his father had not slept very much at all on Tuesday.  By Wednesday, we decided to stay in town to make it to a very prestigious meeting of archaeologists in a nearby state.  (Generally, we travel to the dacha on Wednesdays.)  Petya was trying to pursue a certification course with this archaeological society, combining field work (digging at historical and prehistorical excavations), survey work (assessing whether or not a site should be further pursued), and lab work (assessing, dating, and restoring finds), and it was suggested that he go to this meeting and… meet some people.

In e-mailing the directors, they were not too keen on a 15-year-old’s participation.  Most of them were college-educated, retirees, as well as professional archaeologists.  They felt that the lectures, readings, and exams might be too much for a high-schooler with an already-full “plate”.

Possible.  We were not averse to listening to reason.  But most of the accomplishments in our life were not reasonable at all, we simply did them, often against all odds.

They suggested that he volunteer on a couple of excavations to get a feel for things.  Unbeknownst to them, he had done just that.  He was beyond that stage.  He wasn’t looking just to “dig”, he was looking for a directed course of study, that he might understand the whys, as well as the whats.  He hoped for a broad-based overview that would give him the actual experience that many universities could no longer afford to offer other than at summer field schools which cost big bucks, and usually yielded very little in terms of real learning, depending on the site.

“Dust this rock with your brush.  Use your trowel to gently probe around this pottery.”

Illuminating, it was not.

Naturally, my biggest question was how we should dress for the meeting, not that this had ever crossed their brains, nor cluttered their thoughts.  They were still in a haze from their travels of the day before.

“Look the part, sound the part,” came my pertinent life counsel directed in my son’s direction.  “It’s like you’re interviewing for a job.  Prep yourself.”

Father and son decided to dress in khaki pants and denim shirts, my husband with a blazer and Italian driving shoes, my son with his newly-purchased hiking boots just for archaeology.  I chose to leave my extremely-high heels at home, wearing black slacks, a thin black sweater and dressy blouse.  I could go casual if I had to.  Somewhat, at least.

Next on the agenda was reviewing our son’s field experience.  We quizzed him backwards and forwards:  name of site, location in country A, B, or C, time period of site.  He was getting tired.  It was now early evening and he was still suffering from the rigors of the day before.

“Do you have your notebook?” I checked and doublechecked.  “If you take notes at the lecture, it will make you look more serious.”

“Yes, Mama,” he said from the backseat.

“What was the time period of your last excavation in the Judean Hills?” I quiz.

“Himalayan,” he replies.  He’s serious.

“Himalayan?  As in the mountains?  Do you mean ‘Hellenistic’?”

“Oh, right,” he laughs.

He’s beyond tired.  Since all of the kids and dogs are with us, Benedetto stops and buys them all ice cream.  Petya had missed out when we went to get some the day before.  Now he needed something, and it was either that, or a double shot of my husband’s espresso…..

We went to the meeting.  The president saw us enter and came to greet us.

“You must be Petya,” he said warmly, asking the young man to introduce himself in a few minutes.

At the stroke of the clock, they called the society meeting to order, banging gavel and all.  I liked it.  Anyone who could start and end a meeting on time was worth listening to, in my opinion.  They welcomed everyone and asked new members to introduce themselves, calling on my son first, and requesting that each state their connection with the field.

“My name is Petya and I volunteer for the X, Y, Z Archaeology Museum,” he said, clearly and distinctly.

I was so proud.  No Himalayas or anything.

A murmur of approval rippled through the crowd.  No doubt some had read his articles in the museum’s newsletter.

Another young man who had graduated with a B.A. in Anthropology one year previous, stated his experience.  Unfortunately, he could not remember the name of the excavation on which he had worked, nor the name of its director.  Poor guy.  He received no ripple.

I leaned over toward my son, “Do you have your notebook?”

A stricken look crosses his face.  “I left it in the car-!”

“That’s why I asked five million times,” I whisper back.

It was the ice cream distraction to blame.  I was sure of it.

Afterwards, we chatted with the powers that be.  As soon as the liaison with the certification program learned that Petya was homeschooled, she reversed herself.

“In that case,” she declared, “I am totally in favor of him participating.  He is an excellent candidate and with you two as his mentors, I believe he will do quite well.”

We are taken aback.  It is exactly the opposite of what she had previously ruled.  Their whole stance turned around.  Our 15-year-old had just been accepted into a rather rigorous, two-year study program which took some well-educated individuals up to five years to complete.  And because he didn’t drive, and would probably need to overnight certain days on our unique schedule, his dear mother would be taking the certification course alongside him, trading in her high heels, for well, sort of his hiking boots… more like hiking tennis shoe/boots… as long as they were black….

By 9:00 p.m., we’re back in the car with dogs, kids, and one pretty excited archaeologist-to-be.  Heading seven hours away toward the dacha, neither Benedetto nor I are in any condition to drive, but if Petya was pressing on, we would, too.  My husband stops for gas… and ends up buying the kids an ice cream.

“Again?” I’m shocked.  That’s three ice creams in two days.  We normally don’t have three ice creams in six months.

“We need to celebrate,” he shrugs.  “My son is embarking on his future.”

The other kids nod, happy that their brother had done well, and overjoyed at enjoying the fruits of his success.

“All of the other snack foods were sold out,” Benedetto whispers to me, as the children and dogs fall asleep feeling fine, just fine.



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8 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar hoonew says:

    Take over the world, Petya!

  2. avatar Linda says:

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… Your son is awesome! =D

  3. avatar AP says:

    Way to go Petya! He is such an inspiration to other young students. I wish we could bottle that ambition.

  4. avatar Sybil says:

    What a wonderful thing to happen for him at such a young age! Congratulations Petya.

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