April 1st, 2007
I sit at the hotel bar, sipping a cup of tea catching up on some work as the children nap at Baby House #5. Behind me are the sounds of children playing and a saxophone playing “Only You”. It is Sunday afternoon here and the hotel has a family brunch, with jazz every Sunday.
There is less tension now that court is behind us. Still, Tanya and I will breath easier once the resolution is in hand – which will hopefully happen on the 10th of April. We don’t know what we will do once the plane lands in LAX – once the reality and relief hits us that finally, finally, we are done. I wouldn’t be surprised, if it will be on the order of Dascha’s 10 minute cry a few days back.
Our time with the children is both sweet and awkward. Sweet, because day by day I feel us becoming more and more a family. There is a growing trust between the children and us. The tantrums, actually, are more frequent (for the both of them), but far less severe. They are, in short, getting more and more like the everyday norm I have witnessed with my brother’s children or Tanya’s sister’s.
It is awkward because with each visit the children are increasingly looking towards us to care for their needs, but we are not in control of their environment. There is usually one other family visiting a child (or children), the children are on a strict schedule, and we need to balance what we feed them with the diet the baby house has prescribed for them. So sometimes the children want a toy from one of families, or want food we are not allowed to give them and become upset because they don’t understand why, when they have made their wishes abundantly clear to us, we do not comply.
Then, there is the issue of language. Nikolai is oblivious and as a result has no issues understanding us or communicating with us – as his needs are more basic than Dascha’s, it is an easier task for him. Dascha, at first was a little frustrated – but mostly because she interprets “I don’t understand” as “You can’t do that”. So, when she kept asking me for a cookie, and I kept saying “What is cookie, I don’t understand cookie” – she though I was telling her she couldn’t have a cookie. But quickly now, she is learning how to use words, gestures, and facial expressions to let us know what she wants.
And as to cute moments, sadly there are too many for me to remember properly to write about. So I will leave you with, in our opinion, the most precious. We were watching a cartoon about a sister who was supposed to take care of her brother. Instead of doing this, she when out and played; leaving her brother to play in the grass. While she was playing birds swoop down and take the brother away. The girl must then go into the woods facing various challenges before finally rescuing her brother. To Dascha, the cartoon is frightening at times. She talks through most of it, commenting (in Russian) on what is going on. During the really frightening times, we calm her by saying “Nee Bois-ya, Nee Bois-ya” which means “don’t be afraid.” During a really scary part, Dascha gave a little scream, and Nikolai started caressing her arm saying “Datha, Datha, Nee Bois-ya” – Dascha looked at him, then at the cartoon, and the four of us laughed.