October 28, 2011
The story so far
I have been working as a male manny (nanny), tutor, surrogate father to a Russian oligarch child (see other links at the bottom of this section). My temporary role, as a wind up toy for child X, came to an end this week. Mrs X, mummy of child X, informed me today that I was to be thrown out with all the old toys, as the father of child X thought I was too expensive and a waste of money (although father is loaded). I am like all of child X's and child X's brothers toys, I am without batteries and no longer used or needed.
To smell a rat
Some days ago when the brother of child X began stalking me in the playroom. His mission, to check if I spoke to child X and to translate orders from the nanny cow who is one of two nannies that look after the family of child X. Child X is one of four kids in the family. We will call the brother, child Y. Child Y talks in English like a machine. He is devoid of any empathy or emotion. This has been caused by so many years of getting what he wanted when he wanted. I was late to arrive at child X the other day and nanny cow told child Y, to tell me I was late and that I must stay four hours. I explained to him that their driver was late to collect me and that it was not my fault. Child Y said "that's not our problem you stay four hours". Nanny cow caressed his cheek after he had translated her message to me, he had done his job well. Child Y is twelve and child X is older than a baby but still very young. Mummy wanted him to speak English, although he could hardly speak any Russian. My job was to play with him and speak to him. I did both of these things on a daily basis. After several months of looking after child X, he had not advanced much past a few words in English but then he is still in nappies, so has other more urgent priorities to learn. Mummy X was getting impatient.
Anything can be bought
These oligarch families view the world and people as things to buy. They can buy what they want when they want such as a toy costing thousands of Euro, a yacht in Italy, a business contract or a persons life. We are all disposable, like unwanted toys. They behave like Kings and queens and really do rule the world. In their world anything can be bought. I think it would be a fascinating experiment, to take a child from an oligarch family and put him or her into a high rise flat in a poor family, in a poor part of Russia. leave them there for two weeks and see what they learn. Of course this would never happen.
Nanny of child X has been very jealous of me, a foreigner and a man stamping in her territory, stealing her children and elbowing my way into her luxury private world. Child X has two nannies that work on rotating shifts. One is a cow and one is pleasant and friendly. I have fought a daily battle with nanny cow and lost the battle. Mrs X told me I may be needed later and would call me but I think her husband was jealous and her nanny was jealous of me. I am not so ugly and mummy X is a very attractive young woman. He need not have been jealous as I am married and my dick was cut off years ago. My dick is like an old lift, you push the button but it does not arrive at the floor because a its controlled by a button in another building (my wife) and I would not want it any other way.
Mr X could get any vagina he wanted to, it would be attached to an attractive face with expensive breasts but he would pay for it. Perhaps a rich man paying for woman, is not so different to him marrying one. Russia is full of mega rich men with wives who are whores in all but name. However Mrs X is not a whore but an intelligent woman, who clearly loves Mr X. He seemed devoid of emotion and never even said hello to me in the rare times that I passed him in the marble hallway, as he was leaving to get into his chauffeur driven Mercedes to another business deal or other "activity". He looked the sort of man without a conscience or soul. Perhaps he was different when Mrs X married him? Money and a luxury life must have changed him into a hard, cold machine. We will never know. If walls had ears, they would answer these fascinating questions.
The results and the now
When these kids grow up what kind of adults will they be? Adults lacking in empathy and humanity? Perhaps they will become adults who are arrogant, rich and bad? Money is a blessing but also a curse if handled badly, especially with children's development. I suspect, many of these kids of oligarchs born in the last ten to twenty years, will grow up mentally disturbed and emotional void as a result of their upbringing. Despite my concerns for these oligarch kids, for the right price, I can be bought and I'll be your wind up toy in a wind up world or any oligarchs. I don't need food or water, just put in the key and wind me up and pay me hard cash. I am a 'must have' for any oligarchs child. For now, I'll return to my full-time domestic duties at home. The break will be good but the money will be short, that's life. I am sure something will come up soon. I am for hire, confidentiality is a promise.
I must say, my life here has been interesting and I have seen what many people never see. Since arriving in Moscow, I have never seen so many Bentleys and Range Rovers in one city. I'm sure there are more here than in the whole of the United Kingdom, the colour of choice is of course black. This wealth has been made via a back door and all in a very short space of time.
Related stories see: The children of Russian Oligarchs, The Russian Aristocracy, Day dreams and zoos, Russian bling.
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October 22, 2011
- Baby In Moscow
Looking after a baby alone at home, is scary and can be very scary for many men who are stay at home dads living abroad. I will give some rough suggestions and mainly mention Moscow, since that is where I am and where you may soon be. Women also find looking after a new baby frightening but usually have a support network of family via Skype and other women within an ex-pat community to turn to for help when they need it. I moved here to Moscow with a young baby and found myself at home in small flat in Moscow, looking after a small, smelly, human hand grenade without any support.
I was fairly frightened but slowly over time, I got used to it here. If you don't have a supportive family or a network of other new parents to turn to for advice, you can always look anything up on the Internet, as I often do when I need medical answers. Be careful of the Internet as if your baby is sick or has a small rash and you type in 'rash on a babies bottom' into the search box, the all knowing 'World Wide Web' will often return many search results. You will read about horrible diseases from swamp rash fever to nappy raspberry rickets . You could end up more afraid then before you began looking on the Internet for a medical solution. The important thing is to find a good doctor in your host city abroad, however for various reasons, this is not always as easy as it sounds. The Internet cannot replace a good child doctor.
- Moscow Medical Care
At the flashy private clinics in Moscow, they all speak English but on the down side, they can make you pay for many tests that you really don't need. If your baby just has a temperature and you are terrified it is something serious like, laughing whipping cough, these clinics can play on your fears and paranoia, making you pay for many useless blood tests and will prescribe you medicine that you could easily have got yourself at any pharmacy for a few hundred Rubles. My advice is before you leave your own country, buy a good baby book on medical issues and bring it with you and bring medicines with you that you know and trust.
I did not go to any of the big flashy ex-pat clinics here, as we were not prepared to make these clinics get richer by creaming off cash from worried and unsuspecting foreigners. We went native and have been fine at a Russian clinic here in Moscow. The secret is to find a doctor that you like and that you can trust. Some doctors can treat you and your child like a pair of old shoes. They will talk to you in English or via a translator with a bored distant look in their eyes and have an attitude of, 'I know best' so don't question me please. We went through a few bored middle aged doctors here until we found one or two that were caring and nice to deal with and we stick to them them like glue. I wanted my baby to be vaccinated against everything, even against life itself as I was so worried. Most embassies, (if they are good embassies), will provide you with a free guide on vaccinations abroad in your host country. However, be warned Russian doctors have their own list of vaccinations and may not do the same as other doctors would do back home in your own country. Be ready to adapt or get your baby vaccinated back home when you next fly out.
Whenever I took my baby and toddler to a clinic, if for example he had a bad tummy, the doctors always prescribed him to eat soup, drink herbal green tea and to stay off vegetables. This was all fairly useless advice since most babies and toddlers won't eat soup or drink tea, a lot of it is cultural, so don't be too shocked by what they suggest you to do here in Russia. Communicating the medical problem to the doctor is vital. If you don't speak the language, you can always type in your medical issue into Google translate or ask a friend who speaks the language to write up the medical issues and put it onto paper. Then when you go to the doctors, you can just hand them the problem to the doctor on paper written in their language. Not all translators have a good medical knowledge of common problems, so seeing the doctor can be frustrating if they don't speak good English. Keep calm and carry on, as the old saying goes. The chances are that many doctors will know the common medical problems that babies get and give you what you need to make your baby better, it's Moscow not Mars, although at times it can feel like Mars!
- The Moscow Climate
Looking after a baby abroad, has its challenges and the climate will impact on daily baby care. Moscow is generally cold to freezing in the winter and hot, polluted and airless in the summer. Russians wrap up their babies and toddlers from head to toe from about September onwards, regardless if the temperature is + 6 to + 10 and sunny outside. They seem to be programmed by the month, rather than by the actual outside temperature. I look after another persons kid, (child X) and one of child X's nannies (X has two!) dresses the kid up in a full ski suite, gloves, tights, socks, hat and pushchair body warmer, when it is + 8 and warm to hot outside. I would not go this far but when it is cold outside look at how other babies and toddlers are wrapped up and follow their basic example. A lot of it is just common sense but make sure you baby wears tights, socks and is totally covered in the pushchair when its is cold and icy outside. The wind is the biggest problem here so make sure your baby is fully protected. The rule is put many warm clothes on your baby and you can always take some off if you don't do this you cannot put more clothes on if it is very cold outside and your baby could get sick. More is best when it comes to warm clothes, so the Russians are not so crazy although can be eccentric.
- Home Help In Moscow
As I have said before, many ex-pats in Moscow have a nanny. They are not a luxury and would be unheard off back home but 'when in Rome', do as others do if you can afford a nanny. I did not have any nanny or any help but could have done with it when I first moved abroad to Moscow, we learn by our experience. Nannies are only human and different in how they behave and how they care for your baby or toddler. There are many girls from the Philippines here working as nannies. Many are not 'nannies' or mothers but tap into the lucrative ex-pat market for child care jobs. They are often hired by ex-pats, because they speak English. I have since hired a few of these girls and fired many. They are here to make money which they send back home. Find out what others pay before you agree on an hourly rate. Many want full time but some will take part time. Be warned, if they agree to work part time for you its becuase they usually only stay a few months until they find a full time position or better pay at another family. I had to hire a nanny when I needed to work. The girls that I hired, would either put my kid to bed in his socks or in a dirty nappy or they would just sit on the sofa text messaging, while my kid played alone on the floor. I was not satisfied at all. I know this sounds very ostentatious but It's very hard to find a good nanny, when you do find a good one, keep hold of her.
Try and hire a nanny by recommendation from other ex-pats who are leaving Moscow. Many ex-pats who leave Moscow advertise their nanny on 'Children in Moscow' or on the Children in Moscow Face Book page, have a look there. You can hire a Russian nanny but they can be more expensive but are often experienced mothers in their mid fifties. Russian nannies are in my experience, very caring but will not be told what to do. The fact that you are the parents can be irreverent to them. If you are man doing the hiring, as I did, then you will know nothing about childcare or about looking after children. They can be like old T34 Soviet tanks with a bullet proof shell. They will feed your child soups and teas and have their own methods that can seem very odd to you. From bitter experience, my advice is if you hire a Russian, give her a guide as to what you want done. let her get on with it and go with the flow, don't fight her you will not win, 'nanny knows best', she is the boss not you. At this time of writing, girls from the Philippines take from 250 to 300 r per hour and Russian women take from 350 r to 500 r and more per hour (this rate may have gone up). Many Russian nannies do not speak English. Find out what others pay but never pay more, as it will push up the price for everyone else within the ex-pat community. Some ex-pats pay their nannies when they are away on holiday, that is up to you but I would offer your nanny half pay if you go away, don't pay her full pay. Always take a photocopy of your new nannies passport and visa as you don't know these people and have trusted your child's life with a stranger. Caution is the best policy when hiring any nanny anywhere in the world.
- Location In Moscow
When you move abroad and to a place like Moscow, try to find a flat that's near a park or open green area. You will need to so that you can take your baby or toddler for walks. Before renting a flat, research the area and check that there is a road underpass near your flat that has a ramp. Not all roads in Moscow have ramps, so taking a pushchair down many steps will be very hard. Moscow is a vast concrete car park packed with cars. Finding the right area and street to live in is hard but vital to your babies health and to your well being. Getting outside in a area that is not chocked with car fumes, is the key to survival here, these kind of locations come at a price. Many ex-pats live in the central areas but some live outside in housing communities that are surrounded by green areas. Your quality of life here will depend on your pocket or on your relocation package. If you can't afford to live here don't stay here or move here it will be horrible.
- Survival In Moscow
As I have said many times before on this blog, Moscow is a huge city and you will feel isolated. If you are a stay at home dad, you will be very isolated as you will be an unusual species within the ex-pat community. A man with a baby in a vast sea of women. You can go to any park and you will see women with babies and with toddlers. Try to speak to them, some will think you are a weirdo in a mac, while others will be chatty and friendly. Russian women are cautious of a man with a baby so don't take it too personally. Try and find other stay at home dads. This is harder than it sounds as many have full time nannies or if they are married to Russian women, have a full time mother-in-law looking after junior. You can always join one of the many women's clubs or place a free advert on a forum or on the 'Children In Moscow' web site asking to meet other dads like you. You may have a long wait for a response but don't give up, you are not alone. I think the best way to meet others, is to go to parks and try to hook up with women who are open to male friendship and who can offer you advice on looking after a baby. Keep positive, be active, find time for yourself away from baby care. You must have a sense of humor or you will crack up and go mad here.
My advice is, once you have survived the first three to six months here, looking after a baby it will get a lot easier. If you are a women here, it will be easier and you will meet other women with babies and make many new friends. If you are man and stay at home dad looking after a baby abroad, it will be the toughest job you have ever done and your sanity and happiness will be pushed to the far reaches of endurance but it will be worth the pain. If you survive the first year here, you will be absolutely fine. Good luck dear parents!
Related stories see: Stay at home dads, a survival guide, WTF will dad do when he is no longer needed, A man in a woman's world
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October 20, 2011
I was thinking today, as I occasionally do, about traditional roles within couples and looking after children. Alpha males, within the whole animal kingdom provide food but more often than not just fuck the female and then leaves. His quest for sex is fulfilled, he moves on to the next female and fights among other males to spread his seed to continue the species. In fact, many human males act in exactly the same way as their animal counterpart and I was happily once like that. I am not a biologist but even I know that without women, the human population would soon end within a decade or two. Or so we think, I predict that within the next twenty to fifty years, it will be possible to artificially reproduce the human being without the need for men and women to copulate but let's hope that never happens. If it does, women will go out shopping for babies as they do for a new handbag and the world will become a horror movie. They will take men for love or for just sex, god forbid they may not even need men any more and may turn to a large pink, black or rainbow colored vibrator or a virtual man for sexual pleasure or companionship. We will no longer be physically needed. The reality now is that many men have become women and many women have become men in all the worst vulgarities and this worries me. Although, men should be men and women should be women, roles within couples with children care can very easily be changed, as I will show below.
In my opinion, men can do just as a good a job at raising a child as a woman can. Obviously for now, he can't give birth or breast feed and this is how it should be. However, the right male can care for a child as well as any women could. At a basic level, the male must be caring, safety conscious, mature and responsible. Not all men could care for a baby full-time, part-time or raise a child on their own. For example, I could not have cared for a baby when I was in my twenties as I was too immature and too selfish. My situation is now different, I have a wife who works and who can provide enough income for us to live an adequate lifestyle. We did not sit down one day and decide between us that one would work and that one would stay at home to look after our baby. We did not sit down and decide to move to Moscow and then decide to have a baby. We had the baby, then Moscow came up as a job. Moscow chose us, not the other way around and has her claws around us, keeping us here for a good few more years to come.
Perhaps the question should not be, can a man care for a child as well as a woman? We should ask the question does a child need a father and a mother? In my opinion and to hell with any damn political correctness to same sex couples. Yes, a child does need a father and a mother who are opposite sexes, not to mean two men or two women who adopt the role of father and mother and pretend to be a mummy or a daddy to their surrogate baby. A child needs a natural female mother and a natural male father to be well adjusted and reasonably happy. Of course, a child can only be well adjusted and happy if his or her biological parents are 'normal' by normal, I mean they don't beat each other, fight, drink excessively or take hard drugs. They don't run a massage parlor from home or sell drugs, dress up as witches at weekends or keep toads. The parents must have a normal stable home environment and be caring and responsible to their child or children. I am sure many kids across the world have been raised successfully by an only parent, either male or female. This worked because the parents were normal, could handle the situation and had enough food and money to survive. I am not sure I could raise a child or children alone and I admire any parent who can do that. They are brave and very responsible people.
Sure some people may disagree with me about same sex couples with kids and that's fine with me. If you were raised by two dads or two mums and are normal and happy, then respect to you pilgrim. This does not mean that I agree with it, not due to any fanatical religious reason but for sociological reasons and simple common sense. I'm not anti gay, just nervous of same sex couples raising children, not because they are abnormal but becuase in my own opinion its not natural to normal family life, although some suggest this is untrue. When possible, kids need two parents one male one female.
Since arriving in Russia, I am constantly amazed by the unspoken attitude of women here. This attitude mostly comes from Russian women but in my opinion women in general, see looking after a child as a complicated process. They read books on child psychology, go on courses and have very dated stereotypical ideas of what men and women should do. Well I wake up sisters, times have changed. Since you burned your brassieres back in the 1960's, women have almost equal rights to men and many women now work, in fact in most couples married and unmarried, both people work, they have to due to out of financial need because our governments have made this compulsory to do so.
Traditionally in couples, the man will be the bad cop and the women will be the good cop, the women will be caring and soft and the man will be tough and strict. The frightening thing is that many women today, actually believe these roles to be the reality and expect this when they have kids. In my opinion, the expat community here is almost like women were in our parents generations for those of us born in the 1960's and early 1970's, in a ghastly stepford wives flashback. Back then, Husband worked his dinner was on the table when he came home and the perfect wife stayed at home to look after the baby. Many women within the ex-pat community, have husbands on very high salaries and these women don't need to work, many don't want to work and some even have full time nannies and live in nannies. Some women who stay at home and who are happy to stay at home, see childcare as a complex scary science. I think this is wrong, childcare is common sense. Food goes in one end, shit comes out the other end and just take care of all the in between with logic and common sense. A stick and feather approach that's mixed with the criteria below, should tick all the boxes for good parenting.
Children need love, to be told they are loved, to be played with, to mix with other children, to be treated with respect, to be disciplined when necessary, to be praised, to be encouraged, to be protected and to be educated in life and in schooling. Simple. I do all of these things for my own kid. Sure he is naughty, like any little boy but I try not to make the mistakes of my parents. History tends to repeat itself if we don't watch out. When we catch ourselves behaving as our parents did to us, we must change and adapt to make life better for our own children. I am not a saint or a perfect father but I try my very best. Being a now semi full time father (and male nanny/surrogate father) I have seen it all but I am convinced that any man could do it if he fits the above criteria. If he does not fit the criteria, he should not have children and certainly not be a stay at home dad.
Children need a male father and female mother but who does what within the couple, is largely irrelevant now. Sorry ladies to burst your motherhood ideals and romantic role fantasies. On the other hand, many men also share this female illusion, in these cases the role division works very successfully and their children grow up believing what their parents expect of men and women and the cycle continues.
Raising a child who is 'normal' by that I mean physically and mentally, is not the same as raising a child with problems. If the child is not sick, deaf, handicapped or suffering from a disorder, then it's fairly straight forward. However raising a child at home or abroad, who has any of these the above issues or others, certainly is not easy anywhere in the world for any parent. Raising a child aboard in a different culture, far away from family and friends is not easy and more difficult when you dont speak the language. Raising a child is not the same as looking after a baby abroad and both have their own issues. I have written about this on the blog. At least 80% of the worlds population lives on less than ten dollars a day, a depressing statistic for so many children who deserve a decent life and a normal family life.
Note on nannies: For any mother who has twins or very young children with only a year or two age gap between them, then a full time nanny, will save your sanity and you will certainly need one. Nannies within the ex-pat community, are usual in Moscow and not seen as a luxury. For some, a nanny is almost as important as having a washing machine or yoga mat.
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Labels: Gender roles
October 14, 2011
You can't keep a dog away from a bone, just as you can't keep me away from writing, so here I am again to share with you dear reader a snippet of another life. I went to look after my adopted child X today at the oligarch family where I am a part time hired hand.
When I arrived the other day, child X was playing in the living room, a child's birthday, balloons covered the floor and child X was jumping up and down on a mini trampoline. Naturally, when writing about child X, I observe strict rules of anonymity and respect, as I do not want to bite the hand that feeds me or to be disrespectful to a family and to a child, no matter how loaded they may be. I gave child X a birthday present and card. Mrs X said nothing, not even a thanks, what is one pebble on a beach of thousands? The play room is packed with toys. Remote control cars and toy tanks line one wall and shelves burst with games. I always feel slightly frustrated in the playroom as the cars have not got any batteries in them and so I can't play with them. When I grew up in the 1970's, we did not have remote control cars but now I have my own kid, I fully intend to buy him all the toys that I never had. Child X, the kid I look after, has inspired my toy spending for Christmas.
I feel even more frustrated in another room in the house of child X as it has a full set of fantastic drums. As a boy in suburban England, I always dreamed of having a drum set. My parents were not loaded but dad did give me one single drum for Christmas when I was aged nine or ten. Later, in fact the next Christmas, I got a high hat cymbal. Still wearing my pyjamas, I would bash the drum in my bedroom at 7 am on a Saturday morning while they were sleeping and annoy my parents. This probably ensured that I never progressed to a full drum set. Child X, has a full set down in the "music" room. Again, I am equally frustrated and child X will not allow me to play with the drums, so I stand there and watch while X plays my fingers itch to knock out a Genesis drum style beat. We went upstairs to the bedroom of a sibling of child X. The bedroom is a young boys fantasy room. It is done out in a popular theme that most young kids like. The room is half the size of my Moscow flat. It has an en-suite bathroom and full size walk in wardrobe. While I play with child X in the playroom, a young gardener from the far reaches of Russian rakes endless piles of Autumn leaves. He has gold teeth and smiles a lot. I like him and admire his spirit. He does the worst odd jobs but is always smiling and cheerful.
It has taken me time to gain acceptance from one of the communities nannies at child X's gated community. She is a woman in her fifties, who openly scorns me. Russian nannies are a force to reckon with, like old tough Soviet tanks, used to cold winters and to rough hard ground, they can go over anything. An English man looking after a kid is no obstacle to these women and a man looking after a kid goes against everything they believe in. In the first few weeks of working there, the old tank would spy on me and phone the house from her mobile and to speak to the other nanny of child X while I pushed child X around in the grounds of the gated community. She would report back anything to her such as a wet nappy that had just been peed in or if child X was not in hat when it was + 10 degrees and sunny. Luckily, I noticed her clumsy covert operations and took evasive action by avoiding her. Frankly, she is a bitter old cow but I have been working the charm on her these last few weeks and she seems to have softened a bit towards me but is still as tough as an old boot soviets army marching boot. I need her as a comrade, since I am in a dangerous postilion. Child X has two nannies, one nice and one a cow, they work on rotating eight or nine day shifts. There have been stories of British tutors and British nannies, being sacked by wealthy families because the other nanny (that is always Russian and these oligarchs have at least two live in nannies) was jealous and made up stories to get them fired. Russian's can be very jealous. Being man, I have to be very careful especially when looking after a child. I am seen as a threat to their jobs, because I am great with kids and a lot of fun.
I had a look in one of the garages the other day, inside there was a full size off road go-cart for four people, a quad bike, two child quad bikes and a full size racing motorbike. I am not so much jealous of this wealth, rather more amazed by it. Like 90% of the worlds population, we worry as a family worry about the financial future and about our own kids future, these oligarch's have not got these kind of worries and inhabit another universe to us. Some say they live like Saudi royalty. In fact, they remind me more of the British aristocrats in the last century. They have gardeners, cleaners, cooks, drivers, private tutors, nannies and all the bells that go with it. They are in name only, the Russian aristocracy.
In Moscow, you can almost smell the thieves. Many of the current rich got rich, not by being honest or by hard work but by nerve, by cheating and by having the right connections. I have no idea what the father of child X did to get rich and I certainly don't ask. When I see him, I feel in awe but also slightly afraid. Mrs X is charming, certainly not personal and never asks how I am or how my kid is but is always polite and always smiles. Child X is also a good kid but I can see the seed of a spoiled kid beginning to show through, when you have eaten lobster two hundred times, the taste becomes boring. All the money in the world can't replace real parenting and real parent time. Contracting out parenting and providing countless toys are not a substitute and the results of this will show through when child X and thousands of other Russian child X's reach their twenties. It's the same in the UK, however parents are not loaded just busy, arrive home exhausted and have not got the time or the energy for their kids, we are seeing the results of this in the behaviour of children now and it is dangerous and very disturbing. I my own opinion, the world and society is going down a blind path to destruction but I don't have the answers or the nerve to suggest any solution's here, I'll leave that to another person. For now, child X provides me with some funds and in Moscow you need all the help you can get so long live the Russian aristocracy. You may also like "Russian bling".
This account could be about almost any oligarch's house anywhere in Russia. There are many of them.
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