Saturday, October 17, 2009

Buh Bye!

This week BOTH girls went on the school trip to Pioneer Camp. The Pioneers were the Communist Youth Group, and the school goes to an old center of theirs in a forest a few times a year. Natalia was so jealous the past two years whenever Katya went, and she begged me to start packing her bag three weeks in advance!

The morning they left, Natalia was up and dressed at 6 a.m., even though she had barely been able to sleep all night in anticipation!

As soon as we got to the busses, we saw the other first graders hugging their parents good bye, slowly finding their seats... Some were crying, since it was their first time going away on their own. Not Natalia. She literally disappeared into the bus, running at full speed. I had to board the bus and find her in order to see her off! I called out, "Um, Natalia?!" to get her attention... She stopped chatting mid-sentence and turned to see what I wanted. "Um, perhaps, we could say good bye?" Everyone laughed and she giggled, "Mom, you can GO! I know you love me!"

So much for that!

I then found Katya in her bus and gave her a hug. She and her pals are now "seasoned pros."

They always have a theme for the trip, something both academic and social, that they pursue intensively for 2 1/2 days. Themes have been/will be Prehistoric Man, Russian Fairy Tales, the Human Body, etc. This time they focused on teamwork, doing all kinds of athletic and social activities to build communicative skills.

Natalia was looking forward to all of it, but her REAL goal was to kick b--- in the sports competitions... That girl can RUN. She outran Katya (in sneakers) while in flip flops when she was only three-years-old. She was DETERMINED. I mentioned this to the gym teacher, who hoped that Natalia wouldn't be too disappointed... After all, half of the first graders are a year older than she is, and she would also be competing against the boys! That teacher has clearly never seen Natalia at full speed.

While the girls were away, they called us with eager updates and they both had a good time. It was fun to hear from them. I had envisioned a glorious break the two nights they were away--able to be alone in the apartment for the first time since we moved here in 2004--but I was so busy with work that I simply missed their hugs.

Perhaps those evenings would have been more fun if my husband hadn't eaten a whole head of pickled garlic before coming home that first night... Pickled garlic OOZES out of your pores, making you smell so bad that the garlicky vapors from your head and skin make everyone around you heave with nausea. Why, oh, why couldn't Chris have a different favorite local food?

The smell was so bad that he considered canceling an appointment the next morning!

The girls are now back, though! And our little Natalia blew everyone away! Not only did she run fast, she was the FASTEST! The fastest first grader of all!

When I asked her if she had liked camp, she cheered, "I want to LIVE there! Always!" I thought she must have loved everything about it: the forest, all the activities, etc... But then she added, "Then I could win a gold medal every three days!!!!" She sure does love sports.


Tina in CT said...

1. Natalia's running into the bus and having no qualms about leaving you - She is a clone of you at that age when you went off to summer camp. You were also extremely independent.

2. Natalia's kicking butt with her running - She could run in dress-up heels as soon as she could walk. I keep telling you that her running has to be channeled into track and maybe it'll lead to a college scholarship and more gold down the road.

3. Pionner Camp - What a wonderful experience for the kids. Since they live in the city, they must love getting out into the woods and nature.

4. Chris and pickled garlic - Please ask him not to eat any when I visit!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Natalia!
Sounds to me like a very nice thing school does by taking children to the camp. Do they go in winter too?

The Expatresse said...

My kids always happily ran off for these things. I always found that reassuring. They were shocked by the boys who cried.

The French do the same thing, but it lasts longer (4-6 nights). In Slovakia, they called it "Green Week," but in Russia it's "White Week."

Natalie said...

thats cute... glad she found her talent at such a young age.

Tina in CT said...

How was the jerked chicken supper? It sounded so delicious. I'd love it when I'm visiting.

Annie said...

How cool!

Does Chris like that pickled garlic that is really the spears? I know I got something in Russia, and recently found it again at the Russian store, that looks like green shoots - tastes wonderfully garlicky. But, I am afraid to eat it, frankly.... for just the reasons you described!

Traditional Frog said...

Sounds neat for the girls. The camp they're going to isn't Artek is it? That used to be a premiere Young Pioneer camp in the Soviet days.