Taking two kids to school is hard but taking two kids to school, in the Russian winter is harder. One kid is in a push chair and the other kid, sometimes walks. I say he walks, but often I have to carry him or he takes his scooter.
The bigger one goes to school but I cannot simply leave the smaller one at home, with a cookie, while he is taped and bound to a chair, in front of the television, while I take his sibling to school, although it would be far easier for me to do so, if not rather cruel. I want to tell you my three main pet hates. Ski trousers, school drop off and collection and school clothes changing areas.
What annoys me here, is all the winter clothing that kids have wear outside during Moscow winters. I dress my smaller kid in his clothes, ski trousers (Decathlon brand not a designer brand) boots, hat, gloves and strap him into his stroller. Then comes the task of getting my bigger kid to dress himself, while he is glued to Cartoon Network, before we leave for school. It is dark outside and it feels very unnatural to me to be out of bed when the sky is black outside. I plead, beg and threaten him, to put his trousers on without my help. After several attempts, he finally complies and dresses. I finish the job and put on his jumper. My first pet hate dear reader, are winter ski trousers. One leg goes in, then the other leg, then both arms through the holes and then I zip up the legs. Once the ski trousers are on, we put on the winter boots, hat, gloves, backpack, with sandwiches for lunch and we are off to school. I am sure we have more fucking equipment than a NASA astronaut for a moon trip, when we go to school. We are not alone, everyone does here, it's a necessity.
We make our way along, the black Moscow streets, through icy winds to school. My second pet hate, is school drop off and collection. Not because I hate schools, but because off the de-clothing and clothing of my kid, when taking him to school and collecting him from school in the long, Russian winter months.
We wait for the grumpy school guard to open the door and all parents rush in, like wives at a 70% off shoe sale. We wait outside for the rush to calm down, before we enter the hell zone, the clothes changing area, my third and last pet hate. I don't know if all schools are this bad but at our Moscow school, the kids changing area is far too small to undress and dress kids when you add all the kids and all the parents to one tiny changing area. Planning logic or bad design?
The rush has gone and we three, make our way into school building. I unstrap small kid and take bigger kid by one hand and carry smaller kid inside the school. Mothers and some fathers pass us by, mixed with nannies taking their kids to school. I refuse to change my kid in the designated school changing area, as it's far too small to be practical, stinks of morning breath and is a sweaty experience, when you are wearing winter clothes. Why do mothers always dress their daughters in pink? (another of life's mysteries dear reader) You can usually tell the Russian kids and their parents, as they push past you and the kids are always over dressed for winter (see queuing, "how to"). I undress my kid at the stairs. Mothers brush past me. A man with two kids, clothes all over the floor, I can feel my temper rising, as I beg and ask and my kid to take off his coat and ski trousers. Mothers, give me dark and bemused looks. What is he doing, this crazy man? They ask themselves. Where is the mother or nanny? Why doesn't he use the changing area? Because I'm rebel and proud of it, so get over it sister.
Once kid is de-clothed, we go to class, I tell my kid not to lose his hat and gloves but he always does and I kiss him goodbye. I make my way out of the school doors, breathing in the cold Moscow air, reveled to be free from the hell zone. I put smaller kid back into his stroller and go home in the blackness. This is repeated again at school collection time and I am usually one of the only few fathers there, most of the kids are collected by mothers and nannies, Russian, Filipino and African's here on a student visa. I would love to know what the Russian mothers and nannies make of me? If only we could mind read.
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