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no invitation

We are at a 3 year old's birthday party in the back room of a cafe. Music is pumping from a tiny speaker. Balloon animals are popping, and waving in the air. A man in a yellow dinosaur costume dances wildly. Parents snap pictures with satisfied smiles on their faces.

A little girl approaches gingerly and stands in the doorway, straying from her parents somewhere inside the restaurant. She cannot be more than three. It must be hard to ignore all of the noise coming from this room packed with celebration. There is a perfect little pony tail at the back of her head. She hesitates, as one foot poises in the air and then rests back down. How to understand that she was not invited. How to understand the laughter, the loose jumping bodies, the presents piled high on the window. None of this connects to her. There is a little plate of food waiting for her back there, in the quiet restaurant. Maybe a warm bowl of soup, thick with noodles. I watch her for some time.

That night, her empty e…

колготки (tights)

It's hard to believe my little girl has her first day of Detskie Sad (Kindergarden) tomorrow. I'm not sure who is less prepared - me or her. We've organized all of the tests to confirm she hears ok, sees, ok, breathes ok, has no TB, etc. The school is about 10 minutes walk from the apartment.


There is an overgrown courtyard with apple trees, their fruit littering the dirt. There are poppies, and little purple dahlias. There are clumps of little mushrooms that look like houses that we found this morning, on the final preparation visit. 


I understand how much she just wants to stay at home, surrounded by countless familiar dolls, puzzles and magic markers. I don't really have a great reason for why she needs to go. Every time I explain why she should go, it sounds quite silly. Effortlessly, she replies and my talking points fall apart in my hands. 


I decided to take another tact. I explained to her how we ended up living in Moscow and things took a different perspective. I explained why I went to school, and even how I was a professor for a while. I told her that I had always wished she would lead an interesting life, and that going to school would ensure a future of adventures. Tough to argue with that one. She lives for adventures. 


She suddenly looks so tall in her calgotki (tights), with her legs dangling on the side of couch as I look for her new sneakers. We agreed I would pick out her outfit, and she would pick out mine. 


Tomorrow is the big day - -well, for at least an hour. Then we come back each day for one hour more until she finds herself. 

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