There’s this one little boy, Kolya, at the kindergarten who almost never utters a word until it’s time to go home, when he starts talking to himself in complete sentences. Even then, when you pose a direct question to him, he’ll just look at you with big blue eyes, mouth slightly agape. He knows what he’s doing, though. I think he’s shy, and doesn’t like the kindergarten, but has it figured out that if he just plays dumb but otherwise behaves himself, no one will make him do anything.

The kids are supposed to say a “password” to get into the classroom, to help them learn their colors. In the doorway between the cloakroom and the main classroom there is a place where we hang a colored rectangle, and we change the color every couple of days. Today when Kolya came in I decided not to let him off the hook. I kept sending him back to the cloakroom until he would admit (that is, just say “da”) that the rectangle was yellow. I didn’t hear him utter a single word the rest of the day. But when he had finished his lunch, washed his hands and was drying them in preparation to get dressed to go home, he put down his towel and said, very clearly, “Vsyo. Ya idu domoi.” (That’s it. I’m going home.) Scoundrel.