Our Version of American (Kazakh) Gothic–the end of our time in Petropavlovsk
Okay, I can’t stop. We have been home for a week and as I was going through the 155 photos that were taken in our last days in Kaz, I realized I have to resurrect the blog. There are too many cute pictures of Sasha and his gang, as well as the interesting and enchanting aspects of Kazakh culture we experienced. How could we deprive you of all that? I will post at least two more times before I leave to go retrieve our young man. I leave MN on Wed July 25, arrive in KAZ Friday July 27, then do paperwork with Sasha and will return to MN Friday August 3. Read and enjoy!
Writing and Crying . . . the July 3 Blog Creation
So, after the emotional July 3, we faced the emotional July 4 . . . our last day with Sasha in Petro. We had planned a party for his group, which was a good distraction, but balloons and tissue paper, while fascinating to a two year old, can only distract adults for a short period of time. Steve and I knew we were flying away from Sasha on this day, and the sugar coating of the party didn’t help the bitter pill of leaving go down very easily.
In preparation for the party we had gotten gifts of developmental toys for Sasha’s group, as well as balloons (possibly more interesting than the developmental toys), a new LOUD truck, and snack (including Teddy Grams) for his gang. We also had gift bags for all the caregivers and a photo album of the group for the group. Needless to say, we were a bit overloaded with bags as we entered the BH.
As we staggered up the exterior stairs we could hear the wailing of a kido on the interior stairs. There were caregiver voices talking calmly and a certain amount of kid noise in general. When we had rounded the corner and headed up the stairs to Sasha’s house, we encountered his family on their way down the stairs to a walk . . . they had forgotten about the party. So we helpfully added more chaos to the scene by having Sasha start yelling to us, “Mama! Papa! It’s my mama and my papa!” the caregivers turned the little posse around, the crying child stopped, another started, and Sasha bolted toward us and our bags of loot . . .
Masha helped us maneuver all the bags into the Music Room where we blew up the balloons. Sasha joined us for this, and was incredibly adept at removing gifts from the bags . . . until he spied the noisy truck, pitifully camouflaged in a plastic bag. Oh, what joy a noisy truck brings! The noisiness! The truckness! The fact that it is in a bag that is tied around it! The challenge of working with it while it is still in the bag! The joy of ignoring the three adults telling you to not touch! Noisy trucks tied up in bags are a great gift indeed. . .
By the time we had blown up the balloons and gotten those, as well as the bags, down the hall, the caregivers had their charges seated and ready for our snack. Sasha, of course, was not interested in the snack because he already knew about the noisy truck and the other bags of loot. The empty chair in their dining area is where Sash should be sitting . . . but he had gone off into party excitement mode, and no adult was going to convince him he actually had to sit down and eat.
Just a note on Sasha’s posse . . . we had the pleasure of getting to know these little ones, and they completely rock. Each has his or her own personality, but above that, each is a toddler, who is just getting to know the world. We got to experience the sheer joy of blowing the seeds off a dandelion with them; we had intense ant watching, the fun of BIG swinging, going down the slide—on your stomach, the back and forth exchange of a wilted daisy with smiles and spa-see-bahs (thank yous) abounding. They are Sash’s siblings; the kids he helps more than harms, and with whom he has gone through his life. We love them for who they are to him, and we fear how much he will miss them.
Actually, being seven days and half way around the world from them, I am surprised at how much I miss them. There must be some teacher gene that allows us to fall in love with kids immediately. We learn how to find their strengths and challenges, then we engage with them—it is not something I am capable of turning off, and on that playground when Steve and Sasha were together, I loved playing with his group. They are each little wonders, ready to explode onto the world and it is fun to be a part of their discovery. I wish there were a way for us to keep up with what happens to them, but I don’t think that is possible . . . we will just keep them in our hearts and photo albums, and be thankful we knew them for a short time.
On this last day together we were able to give each kid a gift to open . . . and this was an interesting thing to observe. There were kids who had no idea what to do with the brightly colored tissue paper—it was hilarious to see the gift/wrapping/balloon action. Note, I have considered bringing balloons on the planes with us as we travel home. I am not saying all the passengers would enjoy them, but I am sure Sasha would, and really, who needs to be happy on those plane rides? Me. With wine and balloons, I think we have a winning combination.
After the party we played with Sash outside as his group went out for their walk. Through out our play Steve and I kept asking Masha to explain to Sash that we needed to go home to get ready for him to come to be a part of our family. We hoped that he would understand what was going to happen, but any time you try to project actions into the future with a three year old, you are asking for misunderstanding.
Masha tried to talk to him, and he was adorable. She would say, “Mama and Papa need to go home for a little while . . .” and he would say, “Nyet”, then she would say, “They need to get ready for you to come home,” and he would say, “Nyet.” The conversation continued along these lines and while it was sweet to have his firm denial that we would be away from him for a while, it was heartbreaking to think of the confusion that he had/has ahead of him.
One hilarious aspect of our play time on the last day was the presence of an inflatable swimming pool. Sasha quickly learned that we would not return to the entrance of the BH to see the pool if that was what he asked. On the other hand, if he asked to go to the bathroom, we had to go by the pool, and if you are right by the pool, why not just play a bit? He needed to go to the bathroom about six times this morning. On one trip he returned to the playground with the entire bill of his hat wet. We assume he will wear a life vest at all times once he comes home.
I need to go to the bathroom . . . .
The end of our Petro time involved negotiating our enormous phone bill with our landlord, Ivan. There was actually no negotiating, it was just, “Here is the enormous bill, I need some money”. Both Ivan and Masha were impressed with the numbers we racked up, and we were impressed with the amount of paper our bill took up.
Sasha and Masha took us to the airport in the afternoon and stayed with us until we boarded the plane. This was very sweet of them, and a huge help because our bags were over the weight limit. On the way to Petro we paid $110 in excess baggage fees, so we were expecting something similar, but since we were with Masha, the baggage guy (who had all gold teeth—seriously I don’t think there was a natural one in there) said that if we paid him 800 tenge (~$8.00) he would get the bags loaded without using the scale. We jumped for our money and happily found a 1,000 tenge note for him . . . a huge win in the excess baggage category.