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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EDUCATING VITA: A Farewell From Vita And Ingram-Anichkins




This is farewell from the Ingram-Anichkins, Alexander, Miranda, Vita and Benedict. Educating Vita was conceived as a column both about raising bicultural children and raising children in Moscow. As the last few months' columns since our departure from the capital of the Russian Federation make abundantly clear, raising children in Bray on Thames with milk delivered to the door, a large garden to play in, a world of endless under-fives activity centers, music, gymnastics and ballet lessons in every village, playgrounds with rusty-nail-free equipment poised over soft asphalt, supermarkets with changing rooms, play rooms and extra wide mother-and-toddler parking spaces, restaurants with free bottle warmers, swimming pools with day care centers -- we could go on -- cannot by any stretch of the imagination be relevant to the challenge of bringing up children in Moscow, so it is clearly time for us to bow out.


But despite the new good life, saying farewell to The Moscow Times is sad -- it was a remaining link with the country where Sasha was born and grew up, I lived for seven years and the children began their childhood. Of course, this is no final goodbye: With all those Russian relatives, we will frequently return. As one cynical journalist colleague put it to me after Vita was born, and we were having one of those arrogant expat anti-Russian rants, "You're one of them now."


One day Vita will read the past two years' columns and doubtless cringe with embarrassment. But she'll also understand why, everywhere she went in Moscow, new people would greet her with, "So this is the famous Vita." And her fame doesn't diminish -- she is already a local celebrity here. "What language is she speaking?" the rather snooty postmistress was reluctantly forced, despite her inclination to rise above curiosity, to inquire one day. "Russian," I said, wickedly offering no further explanation as to why the offspring of a clearly English woman chose to chatter in Russian.


In her Russian detsky sad, Vita was the "English girl." In Bray, she is the little Russian. I'm not sure whether being different is good or bad for a child, but I suspect much depends on personality. Vita and Benedict deliberately have both our surnames so they can make their own choices when they are older. Will they want to blend in by being Ingram in England and Anichkin in Russia, or retain an air of exoticism by being Ingram in Russia and Anichkin in England?


But in the meantime, many thanks to all readers of a column we have loved writing, especially to our much quoted Anglo-American neighbors at Korolyova, and babushkas Viva and Valya and nanny Larissa who unknowingly provided lots of copy.