Friday, October 12, 2012

And the Great Experiment continues...

Thank you, dear readers, for all the support as this Great Experiment began. You helped me greatly in those chaotic early days! Now, as a 7-day veteran of these circumstances, I'd like to think that things are going slightly smoother.
The work week passed in a blur of classes and one 8-hour sit-in at Coffee Life. Nowadays I feel mainly guilt and less frustration. I should be spending more time with them. I should be trying to communicate more in Russian. I should be showing them around the city. It just doesn't happen, though. There's always so much work to be done (preparing for classes, blogging, teaching, etc.) and I end up doing that stuff or trying to hide myself away with the Kindle to relax alone. I always think "oh, tomorrow we'll go out walking" or "tomorrow we'll drink". But yeah, tomorrow is dangerous because you never get there. Bad Katherine.

Another thing that really helped this week was hearing other people's stories. Somehow I had the impression that Ukrainians lived in this fairytale land of constant household harmony. Not so, it turns out. At Spanish class yesterday a grammar exercise turned into a 40-minute discussion on in-laws. One woman cooks borsch for her husband; her mom-in-law comes over with a carrot, 3 potatoes, and half a cabbage and cooks her own pot of borsch for the husband/son at the same time... while demanding that the grandchild live with her instead. Another woman's mom-in-law lives next door; she calls up her son with "Come over, I've made some tasty pelmeni!" but never once invites the daughter-in-law. It seemed like everyone had a story to tell. It helped me appreciate what I've got. There may be frustrating moments but really, overall, they're very accommodating people.

Our days pass in a succession of meals. Because of my work schedule (early AM, then late PM), I don't contribute much. His mom cooks for the four of us and presents platefuls of potatoes and meat. It's almost always potatoes and meat but amazingly she manages to prepare it in a different way each time. Even though D and I have the so-bad-yet-so-good habit of watching The Amazing Race or a movie together during dinner, that's become a distant dream. It just wouldn't fly right now. We eat together in the proper family manner, talking about stuff :p So old-fashioned but healthy, I guess! Meals take a long time, and eventually his father will lay his fork on his plate, say Спасибо (thank you), and wander off to the other room. That's the signal that the meal is over and it's time to move on.... or it's time for family gossip over tea in hushed voices.

Oh, and one other funny thing? If I am the Queen of Desserts, his mom is like the Supreme Galactic Overseer of Desserts. I can do dessert with lunch and dinner but his mom can do dessert with breakfast! There are always pastries and chocolate on the table, which is not such a bad thing.

I even think they've taken quite a liking to the cat. "Give him more food!" "Don't give him a bath, it's unhealthy!" "You'd better feed him again." "Don't let him chase that laser, it's not fair because he can't catch it!" That means they like him, right? He's definitely a little plumper than he was last week : )

D and I were buying kitty litter the other day, by the way, and we stumbled across this hilarious brand-
What's even more amusing is that his parents thought it was cat food! 

Anyways, to apologize for my standoffish behaviour, for not being the doting daughter-in-law and eagerly practicing Russian with them non-stop, I'm going to help his dad create a Facebook account (yes, he expressed interest in it!) and (shhh) making a photo album on Snapfish to mail to them once they arrive back home. Have been taking lots of pictures of them with D and with the cat for this purpose.

And thus the Great Experiment continues...

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