I saw this boy tonight on the Arbat, all by himself, playing both his violin and flute for money.
I hope he has a family. I hope he's not hungry. He was wearing fairly nice clothes, was warmly dressed, and well-groomed, so I'm guessing he isn't in trouble... Nevertheless, I paid him very well so I could film this little clip...
I can't imagine letting my kid at that age be alone in the middle of the city.
This was actually a topic that came up in class this past week; the majority of my eleventh graders have been left alone for significant periods of time (weeks! a month!) while their parents were gone, even overseas... I couldn't believe it! I thought they were kidding!
They, in turn, thought I was joking when I said that if an American mother left her child in the car while quickly running into a shop -- even for three minutes -- she could be both arrested and publicly excoriated on the evening news.
At what age do most Americans let their kids be alone for a bit in the house? Mom? When was I? A good Russian friend here started leaving her kids alone for a few hours when they were eleven and six.
I know that I was babysitting at twelve... but the idea of having been left alone for extended days?! I still can't fathom it.
While I know that Katya, in theory, could walk to school -- she obviously knows the way and it's only minutes from our door -- I can't imagine exposing her to so many dangers! A careless driver who could go too fast on the path near the school... A criminal who has observed our daily routine and might just be there waiting for her... NO WAY!
I feel badly that she doesn't get the doses of independence that meant so much to me as a kid: exploring the woods near our house, making my own secret forts...; walking to and from neighbors' homes (our moms would call each other upon departure/arrival); going for bike rides around the block with my friends; walking to and from the bus stop... Who knows when I'll let her do those things...
(Hmm... This raises another interesting point... All of that independence meant that our mothers had a whole lot more time by themselves. They weren't with their kids 24/7, coping with the stresses of trying to arrange social activities for their kids that they then had to supervise. We were also relieved to get a break from our parents and siblings, perhaps preventing constant tension and bickering. If I could have had a break from the kids today, I wouldn't be hiding out in a cafe that has wifi for a few hours right now).
I see my students leave school, taking various public busses/subway lines home... Then I think of one of my ninth graders, the sweetest girl, who was hit by a car last week while she crossed in the crosswalk on her way home. (She got out of the hospital this weekend and is going to be fine, thank God!).
As they say in Russian, "Malenkie deti, malenkie bedki." Little children, little problems... Meaning of course, that as they grow up, the worries become only graver...
Added later tonight:
As I headed home, I was stunned to see a young girl (five-years-old, perhaps) standing next to a baby in a stroller, in the street, in the dark, at 10:30 p.m. No parent anywhere in sight. It took me over a minute to get my camera out of my bag and to walk to a spot where I could capture a picture; just as I took off the lens cap, a woman came out of the pharmacy and walked to the stroller.
Why on earth hadn't she brought the kids in with her?! That pharmacy has wide doors and a smooth floor; it would have been easy to bring them in! And why did she leave the kids in the street?! Had they moved a few feet, they would have been up on the pedestrian path! That area of the road is dangerous; cars whip right around it! And to leave them there in the dark?!
I was flummoxed.