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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

GROWING PAINS: Parents All For Sending Kids Away in Summer




Last Friday the children broke up from their Russian school and we parents were faced with the bleak prospect of over three months of school vacation. That's 14 1/2 weeks. Or, to be more horribly precise, 102 days of having all three children at home all day.


In England, schools sensibly break up at the end of July, but not so in Russia. As you might have gathered, I feel justly resentful about being burdened with my children for so long by some whim of the State Higher Education Committee. But other Russian moms are all for it.


"It's because of our harsh climate," said Natasha, a mother of two. "We have nine months of snow and only three months of warm sun. They need to store up as much goodness as they can in summer to see them through the rest of the year."


Getting them out of polluted towns and into the countryside is another big plus as far as moms are concerned. Avitaminoz, or lack of vitamins in the body, is one of the first words I learned in Russia and is a thing all good mothers try to avoid. Shipping them off to stay with babushka in the village guarantees a constant supply of vitamin-packed fresh eggs, milk, vegetables and fruit.


Another theory I heard from one dad is that the vacation dates back to tsarist days when Russia was an agricultural country and you had to have three months to get the harvest in. Then, when Russia became the Soviet Union, school kids were sent off en masse to Pioneer camps, often for the whole summer. Even kindergarten children were routinely sent away from their parents for a month or so to camps. Then we had democracy and suddenly summer camps cost money, which meant they were no longer an option for most people. Mayor Luzhkov is now organizing a system of free camps but most moms still believe babushka is best.


In a survey which asked what parents preferred f keeping the children at home, sending them to the countryside with babushka or sending them to a camp f parents were resoundingly in favor of the babushka, followed by camp. The option of staying with their parents limped in a very poor last.


I must say it doesn't hold much appeal for me either, but, on the other hand, I'm not about to send them off to a camp to be looked after by underpaid total strangers.


And since our dacha is not the safest place to leave the kids (jagged glass, savage dogs and cats calmly eating from your plate at the table) I'm of two minds about that, too.


Weighing up all the pros and cons, I think babushka gets her dream vacation and the kids stay with her.


Anything for a quiet life.