... to the babyhouse

On Monday we returned to the babyhouse and found the older age groups (about 3-4 year olds) playing outside.

LB slightly awkwardly started throwing a ball, but soon descended into being an exciting 10 year old, pushing them wildly around on the cars and bikes.  They have moved the old ride on cars and bikes outside now that we have supplied some new ones for the gym indoors.

He had the most amazing time entertaining  some of the more active kids whilst I got stuck intomaking sand castles in the sandpit.  Splitting my time between about 8 children gathered around it, all calling "Mama, Mama!" inviting me to admire their efforts, was tough but I was determined that each child would get their share.  I have no idea how these women manage, it is an impossible task.  I guess they don't manage to give each child enough individual attention, try though they do, to judge from the random fierce hugs I got tightly about my knees.

LB was reluctantly dragged away when the children went in for tea - they lined up carefully and left holding hands as they've been taught.  He beamed at me -

"They love me!  And I didn't even have any presents!"

An interesting lesson for him - the priceless gift of attention that we all take so much for granted at times.  And yes, they did love him, I don't think they generally have people coming to play with them with the wild abandon that a 10 year old has.  At least this 10 year old. 

Cars were pushed at breakneck speed; balls thrown so high some disappeared behind the lean-to roof and had to be rescued; and then the crowning glory - in the last 10 minutes LB got his phone out and showed them "Head football".  With a rapt audience, his natural (previously undiscovered) leadership skills were clearly demonstrated as he lined up a row of 4 year olds, explaining to them in a language they didn't understand - 

"Now, one at a time, two minutes each and if you snatch, the phone goes away."

Amazingly it worked, though I did notice that one of the older boys who he had a bit of a soft spot for did sneak in an extra go here and there.

When they went in, we walked around to see the Kazakh-speaking group who on the whole were very slightly younger.  With a little encouragement from the carers we were treated to an little impromptu concert outside in the sun.  The concert consisted of some kind of nursery rhyme (with approximately 372 verses - I think it must have been the kazakh equivalent of "There were 372 green bottles hanging on the wall") by one of the older girls; a fantastic cute russian boy, who rather reminded me of Grant Mitchell, did a wonderful blokey kind of dance and song; then they all very solemnly put their hands on their hearts and sang the national anthem.  In squeaky little soft 3 year old voices.  Well I say all, but there was this one 2 or 3 year old girl who ran around madly behind the solemn singing, windmilling her arms around gleefully with a carer in hot (and fruitless) pursuit.

I found it reassuring and touching somehow.  I'm the mother of the child who marched across the length of the nursery hall after the nativity play whilst the the nursery manger was doing her (admittedly rather long) thank you speech and announced as clear as a bell -

"I'm bored now, Miss."

I have no doubts that if he had still been at the babyhouse at 2 or 3 he would be the one windmilling his arms in joy when he shouldn't be.

At this point I hatched a plan and explained to the carers that I would pick one child and Daniel would pick one child and if they would just oblige and turn their backs for 5 minutes, I'd stuff one under each arm and leg it.

Dinara translated and they all laughed merrily.  Bugger - they don't think I'm serious.  

Back to the drawing board.

Lunch at Dinara's and the park

Dinara kindly invited us to have lunch at her flat with her daughter.  She thought it would be a good idea for LB to see how real Kazakhs live, not in a basic cabin with a pit for a toilet nor in a fancy hotel with hot and cold running room service.

It was a pleasant day all round, with a trip to the local park later.

The local park was actually an open air museum with houses for each of the ethnic groups who live in Kazakhstan.  We saw old houses (some of then 100 years+) of Russians and Ukranians,, Georgians and Jews,  and Chechens (who built peculiar stone towers it seems) and we didn't see the half of them.  There are a lot of different nationalities here, many not of their own volition at least initially.

Not many people will know the history of the Chechens although they might be aware in some form of the current conflict but in 1944 Stalin deported the whole population of Chechnya to Kazakhstan overnight during which at least 25% of the population died (some say 50% in the first year).  They were given little notice notice and were allowed to bring only 3 days supply of food - the journey took 2 -3 weeks in a freezing February, hence the high death toll. They arrived in Kazakhstan with nothing and survived mostly because of the generosity of the locals who had little themselves but shared what they could with those who obviously had even less.  Could I share when I had so little?  We'd all like to think so wouldn't we?


Stalin has a lot to answer for...

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Latest comments

10.07 | 13:22

We all have heard that dogs love to chew bones, Bones are a good source of minerals and other essential nutrients to satisfy the dog’s appetite.

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07.06 | 16:37

Thank you so much for sharing. Makes me want to be there. We have told Ben and Ruthie we too will make a trip back and I hope it's soon!

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03.06 | 11:35

Tears are flowing and laughter ensuing.

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31.05 | 00:14

We're loving following your adventures!!! In Kew at the mo with my I laws. We have explained to Harry where you are but he says he misses Daniel!! Xx

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