The one native-English-speaking boy in my class at the kindergarten can be surprisingly difficult to deal with. He rarely participates in music class or physical education class, he seems to think Russian food is nasty and refuses most of what’s offered at meal and snacktimes, and he can be incredibly stubborn. He also can be really sweet, and he really seems much older than three sometimes. The other day he said “Megan, do you know why we come back down when we jump? Gravity! And when we go into outer space there isn’t any and we float all around!”

Today his mom came to pick him up earlier than usual, before lunch. I told him that his mom had arrived, and he said “You mean I don’t have to eat lunch?” “Yes,” I told him. “Thank you!” he said, with great relief.

It was then that I realized that he’s not really a naughty kid, he just really hates kindergarten and is constantly being forced to do things he really doesn’t want to do, and if you look at it that way, he’s really putting up with a lot. Why would he hate our classroom full of love and education, you ask? I think it’s largely because he’s one of only two kids who come from a completely non-Russian household. Even though it’s the “British Kindergarten”, the atmosphere, the food, and at least 50% of the talking is Russian, and so he really doesn’t relate to what’s going on. The other non-Russian kid has lived in several other countries and has multilingual parents and even though she can’t really converse with the other kids, she really likes school and generally just has a really easygoing temperment, so she’s much better adjusted.

So, I’ll try to be less frustrated by and more sympathetic to this poor kid and remember that though experiencing a different culture may be the goal of many expats, their spawn haven’t had a choice in the matter and may feel a bit differently about it.