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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nationality a Choice For One 'Native' Son

We've done it. A boy. Despite the introduction of foreign genes into the Anichkin clan, it was in the end the controversial English woman who finally brought a male bundle into this household of babushkas, aunts, mothers, granddaughters and great-granddaughters.


Lingering Soviet suspicions and the fact that I'd put my foot down at "Oleg" for a name were swept aside.


I definitely heard the eerie words "hero mother" mumbled as the Russian relations gathered to toast the boy child, safely arrived in Moscow from the clutches of the British national health service.


Indeed, it is a wonder Benedict is still in one piece, as it's not only the family who's lost all sense of proportion: I dread the day that our housekeeper, who went starry eyed and did an impromptu jig mouthing the word malchik like a born-again Christian who's about to start speaking in tongues, and the nanny, who accuses us of having known all along but not letting on, tear him in two, in their eagerness to thrust the enchanting-but-female 18-month-old Vita aside and sink their hands into his dirty nappy.


Why Russian women, who spend the rest of their lives when they're not drooling over boy babies excoriating the infinite inadequacies of the Russian male, are reduced to incoherent rapture at the sight of a future man is just another Russian enigma. But it's not just the Anichkin circle -- the whole Russian nation, it appears, has a stake in the boy Benedict.


A British passport takes so long to arrive, and you also need an equally time-consuming Russian visa to travel back to Moscow; when daughter Vita was born we learned the quickest way to get enough paperwork to satisfy both Heathrow and Sheremetyevo was to get her stamped in Sasha's passport at the Russian Embassy in London.


He duly traveled from Warwickshire and signed a form on my behalf: No one took much interest and the whole process took about five minutes.


Not so this time.


"We need the mother's presence," barked an irritatingly pompous Soviet-era apparatchik. "This time we are talking about a boy," he spelled it out. "What if, when he reaches the age of 18 and it's time to serve his country, the [foreign] mother says she never gave permission for him to be a Russian?"


Thus, with ominous pictures of the Tajik border, the war in Chechnya and endless possible future conflicts looming across my mind, I confirmed through gritted teeth that Benedict Alexandr(ovich) is indeed the son of Alexander Olegovich, Russian citizen. I can only hope when he is 18 he makes a very considered decision about what nationality he chooses to adopt.





Educating Vita is a new column on raising children in Moscow that will appear every Friday.