The twins, X and Y that I teach are spoiled. They have three nannies that work in shifts, to care for their every need although, the family is not bling bling or flashy like some families I have taught at. The nannies sleep in the kids single beds at night, the two bedroom flat has five adults and two kids in it every night and gives a new meaning to the word crowded. These twins are not identical, one twin is intelligent, while the other twin is rather simple, although I think he has a learning difficulty like ADHD or dyslexia. They are both badly behaved. I see each twin separately, one after the other, five days a week, for three hours. These last few months, I have been sitting at the table with them in the kitchen and we have played memory card games, learned colours, basic shapes, days of the week, seasons, months, time, emotions, animals, opposites etc, or at least one twin has, the other twin has the memory of a blind goldfish. They are both five. One twin goes to a Russian kindergarten in the mornings and the other twin does not go to any kindergarten, he has been kicked out of two schools because of his bad disruptive behavior.
I have written many times about Russian nannies as they are a source of endless mystery to me. Many expat families and wealthy middle class Russian families have nannies. These women are native Russians, often, don't speak any English and are usually older mothers. I have been told that these women have big hearts and I believe this to be true, as I have my own nanny, for my own kid, here in Moscow and have seen her kindness.
After you have lived in a country or countries, away from your own home, you get to notice many habits and characteristics of the people in your host country. I have noticed some funny characteristics since, teaching at Russian families. Teaching, would be relatively easy and stress free, if it were not for these over protective nannies. They fuss and cluck around their children and make it hard for the teacher. When I arrive at the twins flat, when its + 20 and warm outside, all the windows in the flat are shut. It's only just recently, they have turned off the flats central heating but the sun shines into the flat from noon and so consequently, the flat is very warm. When I go through the front door, it smells like a long hall flight, where 300 people have sat breathing out stale air, for nine long hours. It makes me gag and gasp for fresh air but I sit there for three hours each day teaching these kids English. We sit at the kitchen table to learn, if I open a window, a nanny rushes in and shuts it, as if we were all in a hut, in deepest Siberia. I sit there sweating, while one twin bashes on the computer keyboard or twists and wriggles in his chair, while the other twin can be heard in another room wrecking the furniture and beating the nanny. The mother wants the kids to go to an international English language school in Moscow, she hired me some months ago, to teach them to enter the school. I knew it would be a tough gig but took on the challenge as I like a challenge and frankly, I need the money!
One twin speaks no English and the other speaks some English. I telephoned the school to find out what was required to enter the school and I was told that they must be at the level of a six year old native English speaker and that Russian kids are not given any priority to enter. Despite this harsh reality, I have tried hard to teach them slowly, bit by bit but the mother told me last week, that she expects her darlings to make full sentences in English, after just three months of teaching. She lies to me about what the school requires but she has her hopes and false dreams and she does not know, what I know. She should have started them both on English, from the age of three, rather than five. Did she wake up one morning and decide she wanted her kids to be at the level of a six year old native speaker, within three months and to send them to a posh, expensive language school? These unrealistic exceptions are not uncommon in Russia. They are either true optimists or true dreamers. I'm more inclined to believe that they think money can buy anything and I think that in Russia, this is certainly still very true.
As I said, I believe one twin has a learning disorder and the other "normal" for a five year old. Last week, the mother told me, no more exercises and games but just speaking, speaking, speaking. She has now accepts that one twin cannot go to this school and hopes the other will, I suggested a Montessori school for the problem twin but got no reply from her. I have not told her what the school told me, as she has her own expectations and wants to live in her bubble of make believe. I do want to burst her pink bubble of fluffiness, it would be too cruel and I need the money.
One twin loves pirates, that's the one who is has no chance of going to the school. We spend our time, watching Captain Pugwash, pirate cartoons on YouTube, he watches one cartoon, then clicks on the same cartoon two or three times, watching the same cartoon, without remembering he has just watched it. We spent three weeks, learning six shapes and six colours.The other twin and I spend our time speaking but like her brother, she is vary badly behaved. She does however, stand a good chance of entering the school, if she is very lucky to be accepted or if the parents can pay a cash bribe to the Russian school administrator.
Their world, has been around their three kindly nannies, they go with their nannies outside to play in the park in ski trousers and woolen hats, when its + 20 outside. They have just spent their days playing and drawing all day. The nannies, shoot sea sprays up their noses, give them countless syrups and dress them up in thick woolen tights indoors. Three draws in the kitchen, look like small pharmacies and are stuffed full with medicines and sprays. The nannies do not discipline them and see that as the parents job, although the parents are never at home. I am sure that an occasional smack bottom for twin X or twin Y and a bed time without any television, would help their behavior issues. This is unlikely to ever happen, as long as these women look after these children. These children are like this, because of their nannies and because of soft absent parents. As the saying goes, to kill with kindness and these children are slowly being killed with love.
The parents of these twins, love their kids as any parent would but they simply cannot see what damage they are doing to them. It's very sad. So many Russian men, drive around Moscow in flashy jeeps, that look like giant black boxes on wheels. They drive like total pigs and have an air of arrogance, that chokes you up with its you smell. I would not be surprised, if these men had nannies when they were kids and I would not be surprised if these men had little or no discipline when they were kids. History effects our present and our future. The children of these arrogant guys, will become like my twins and life will go on in Moscow. Boys are worshiped here, so its little wonder, they often become so lazy. Women run this country from a back seat and culturally, it's causing more harm than good. Perhaps, its time to get tough and to share responsibilities within the home. In my opinion, a little careful disciple from time to time, can help. Spare rod and spoil the child, has some truth to it and can metaphorically, be applied to our society and to our children.
Update: I have since read a book called the "The Well behaved Child" and now see ADHD etc as total poppy cock. What we need is good old fashioned parenting.