Has it really been five days? This seems strange to say, but the days are going by in a blink, while many of our moments seem to drag out forever. Of course the days will be a blur chasing two toddlers around, but instead of getting more comfortable with our surroundings, we are actually very glad we should only have a week here. We’re getting by fine, but this just isn’t a happy place. More on that later.
Today was a pretty good day with the boys. We’re both amazed at the bond that has developed already. I knew they would fall for Lara right away, but what has really surprised me is that both Evan and Alex seem totally comfortable with me. There is no hesitation at all. The only times we see them getting upset are the typical toddler things, but we are always able to comfort them quickly. It is better than we dared to dream.
No new pictures. I need to try to make this quick. I said the same thing last night, and ended up spending an hour and a half typing, working pictures, and processing video. It was a pretty typical day in terms of activity. The boys got up for good around 7. We had breakfast of kasha and eggs, then went out for a walk. We are desperately looking for a place we would feel comfortable letting the boys run free. After an hour of unsuccessfully searching for another park, we settled on going back to Partisan Square. At least it’s a big open area, even if totally paved.
Unfortunately, there is broken glass everywhere. Alex is still pretty clutsy, so we couldn’t stand the thought of letting him stray. There were many other children in the square. So we decided to at least get them out of the stroller and play for a while. Somehow, the other children seem to notice something different about our boys. I’d like to think it’s the smiles on their faces, or maybe just the clothes they are wearing, but there is just something that makes them stand out. For you Simpsons fans, think about Maggie and the mono-brow baby.
We came back to the apartment for lunch, and our usual struggle to get them to nap. I thought I had a brilliant idea to turn the kitchen table into a fort. We covered the whole thing in blankets, and spread a bunch of cushions and pillows on the floor underneath it. Yes, they loved it, and they darn near settled down long enough to sleep two or three times, but then Evan’s alarm bells started going off. He just won’t sit still for any length of time. If we’re all in one room, he wants to run to another room. If we’re not all in one room, he wants to find everybody. Naturally, once Evan moves, so moves Alex. We tried every which way: all of us in the fort; me in the fort, Lara in another room; Lara in the fort, me outside; neither Lara nor I in the fort… All to no avail.
I’m sure you parents out there will say this is all typical, and I have no doubt that it is. We’re just worried that they are both soooo tired. You can see it in their eyes. There are several times during the day that they will darn near crash – sometimes while they are standing up. I got desperate, and decided to hold them both in my arms and sway to some Russian lullabies in the background. Within 60 seconds, both their heads were on my shoulders. Then the construction started…
There is some work going on in the building. From the sound of it, it is in the apartment directly below ours. It sounds like someone is drilling into the floor beneath our feet. We heard the noise on Friday when we first brought the boys in. It went away until today. We were hoping for good, but I guess it was just for the three day weekend. The noise startled both boys. I calmed them down, explaining that it’s just a man working (that’s all I can do in Russian). They accepted it, but sleep was now out of the question.
So we headed out again for another walk. We were totally unsuccessful in finding a better park. Bryansk simply isn’t child friendly, by American standards. We’ve found 3 parks with children’s playground equipment, but all of them need some serious maintenance and grounds keeping. The other difficulty is that everywhere we go, there are adults sitting around, apparently with nothing to do other than drink and/or smoke. These just aren’t places we feel comfortable hanging out with children. I can’t imagine any parent feeling comfortable with it, but here, that’s what they do.
In spite of the beautiful weather today, this place has an odd, heavy feel to it, and I think it’s making us both depressed. There is trash everywhere. Everything is in disrepair. People just don’t (generally) seem happy or friendly. There is a lot of standing around, sitting around, hanging around… It seems like every other parked car you walk past has someone sitting in it.There was a man wandering around the little playground behind our apartment when we went out for our morning walk. When we went out again in the afternoon (4.5 hours later) he was still there. He was in a suit, so it wasn’t like he was some homeless guy. He just seemed to be waiting for someone or something in the building across the way from ours.
The “sidewalks” are pretty much non existent. Even if there once was one, it has been demolished by wear – or something. It is very difficult to push the stroller around all of the cracks, bumps, holes, loose rocks, mud, you name it. We passed a couple of guys sleeping on the side of the road yesterday, who were still there, and still sleeping, several hours later. I realized today that they are living in the trash pile behind our apartment complex. The odd thing is that by Russian standards, this is a pretty nice place. The apartment itself is tidy and fairly modern. I guess there’s just no avoiding the poverty around here.
OK, enough of the depressing talk. Don’t worry, we’re getting by just fine. We are able to get what we need from the store across the street, and we know we only have a few days left. It’s just that we’re struggling to find activities for the boys. We can’t wait to get them home and let them run in the yard, take them down to the park, the pool, the zoo… We just can’t wait to get them home. I guess this what they call being homesick. 🙂