Not dead, just in Moscow - one year on

>> Thursday, 13 January 2011

As of tomorrow The Potty Family will have been resident in Moscow for a year and one week. (The title above is a reference to the first Russia-based post I wrote back then). I'm not going to give you a round-up of all that's happened in that time (I never have been much good at 'round robin' letters; I gave it a try twice - here and here - a couple of years back, but found the whole process so boring I resorted to masquerading as a mouse...), but I will say that I have learnt more than a couple of things in that time frame:

I've learned that 25 years after leaving school, the major complaint of my school teachers holds true; I still don't do my homework. If I did, I might now be able to understand more than the embarrassingly few words of Russian I can dredge up and crucially, be able to say the word 'write' correctly - rather than mispronouncing it and saying 'piss' instead. (Russians are very forgiving of foreigners making mistakes with their language, but there are limits).

I've learned that there are advantages to not being blonde and gorgeous and driving a big 4x4. Who would have thought it? But whilst it's all very well in London (well, it's not, actually - the 4x4 bit, anyway), here all it will do is make you visible and get you pulled over and fined for such technicalities as having a dirty number plate. Luckily, I am not blonde (I reserve judgement on 'gorgeous' - after a day at home with the Boys it's not something I'm feeling right now, that's for sure), and nor do I drive a 4x4, so up until this point - knocks furiously on wood - I have managed to sneak under the radar in our very basic saloon car, and have not been deemed worth stopping by Moscow's finest.

I've learned that in many circumstances, you can rely on the kindness of strangers. This is of course mostly down to the fact that I often have two fairly edible boys in tow (in my obviously unbiased opinion), but even so I've been amazed by how much the expat community and especially the Russians will go out of their way to be helpful. During our recent trip back home I have to say that of the many comparisons I drew between the UK and Russia that came out in Britain's favour, the way that children are treated was not one of them.

I've learned that when clearing snow off a car, it's always a good idea to include the headlamps in your sweeping endeavours. Especially if you're going to be driving anywhere in the dark and want to actually see where you're going. Oh, and to keep a second set of ice-clearing equipment in the house for those times when the boot is sealed shut with the stuff...

I've learned that it can be incredibly frustrating to sit in a country where so much is happening and not to be able to blog about much of it due to concerns on how doing so might affect your own life. (Oooh - a serious one)

And to follow that one up, I've learned that it doesn't always pay to share your blog address with your nearest and dearest because they might actually read it, and then part of the reason that you started blogging - the free writing therapy and the counsel of strangers - becomes impossible to achieve without impacting on them.

I've learned that dealing with hat-hair for 5 months of the year is so much easier when everyone else is doing it too.

I've learned that Russian women have some sort of hereditary ability to walk through snow and ice in high heels without ending up falling tits over ass - and that I don't.

I've learned that far from being desperate to get back home after 18 months, as I had expected to be, I would in fact love to stay on longer. (The jury's out as to what will happen with that, by the way).

And whilst I could go on ad infinitum, I'll end by saying that finally, I've learned that my sons - well, probably children in general - have quite incredible abilities to adapt. And that my own abilities leave something to be desired.


Iota 13 January 2011 at 19:35  

Oh. I was enjoying that and thinking how upbeat it all was, and then there's that last sentence. But I'm not sure what it means. It could be a Potty Mummy jokey self-deprecating quip. Or it could be a sad "I'm not enjoying life here, I'm homesick for London" kind of a parting shot. Either way, I bet you're a whole lot more adaptable than you give yourself credit for.

The whole "who gets to read my blog" issue - that's one thing you don't leave behind wherever you move.

Domestic Goddesque 13 January 2011 at 19:43  

I've learned more about Russia than I ever would have done otherwise. It doesn't change the fact that I think your blog is outstanding and would love to be as well-respected as you.

And I have learned that thee are drawbacks to your mother erading your blog, so I do feel your pain.

Expat mum 13 January 2011 at 20:26  

Who would have thought eh? I'm so glad it's working out for you. It IS working out isn't it? I didn't miss something did I?
I think you'll all be much better off for this adventure.

Potty Mummy 14 January 2011 at 09:32  

Iota, funny, isn't it, what blogging can bring out?

DG, thankyou thankyou for your kind words - and the shared pain!

EPM, we will, that's for sure. But we'll also be changed - and I'm not a natural at accepting that.

Anonymous,  14 January 2011 at 10:07  

Wow I remember when you were packing and unpacking and though I may not have always commented (my apologies) I remmeber reading and thinking of you and your family on this adventure. I am proud of you all and of course at times it's bound to be more difficult than anyone else can imagine (that's because it's your lives not theirs) but look at all the good that's come out of it. You are doing so well and have learnt so much already! Well done. Keep up the good work and do take care xx

LJB 14 January 2011 at 13:50  

I have studied Russian for over 10 years in school and can say "write" without making a piss of it :), BUT I would never be brave enough to live in Russia!

nappy valley girl 14 January 2011 at 17:29  

Congratulations on making it through the first year - it should only get easier from now on. I've been away 20 months and suddenly the prospect of being back in England is more daunting than that of carrying on here - I've forgotten how England works!

Paradise Lost In Translation 14 January 2011 at 17:46  

yes, children are So adaptable aren't they? I have not found the adapting as hard (tho it was) as the 'having to keep doing it' factor, moving & starting all over agn somewhere new. I cd never be an embassy or miltiary wife...
MY eldest is now at the age (10 1/2) wehre the adapting thing becomes more key & it's not something we feel it's fair to ask him to keep doing.

Elsie Button 16 January 2011 at 19:42  

i cannot believe it has been a year already!

i laughed when i read the forgetting to clear the snow from the headlights. during our last snow, we merrily drove out of town in the dark, away from the street lamps and suddenly i could not see the road ahead of me. i began freaking out and yelling 'I CAN'T SEE' and tom kept saying it was fine and i was talking nonense. i pulled into a layby, got out and found about 6 inches of snow piled onto my headlights. i sometimes seriously question tom's judgement...

Looking forward to hearing what happens next... and well done for the last year - what an adventure! x

vegemitevix 18 January 2011 at 15:13  

It's a challenge eh Potty! I find my kids are way more adaptable than I, but like you, I'm finally getting there. Though I think you need to give yourself more credit - it's taken me 2.5 yrs to get to this point of acceptance of my new life in the UK, and you sound like you're well down the road after just one year! Bravo!

Mwa 18 January 2011 at 22:09  

Seems like you've learned a lot! I was spooked by your brackets there. You take care of yourself!

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