On Monday I was helping Dima get dressed to go outside to play, and he said “thank you” for something (I forget what), only it came out as “fank you”, as it often does when Russians say it. “Dima,” I said, “stick your tongue out and say “THHHank you”. He furrowed his brow, kind of attempted it, and then said “Po-russki — FANK you.” (In Russian, it’s FANK you.) I had to admit he had a point.

The same day, there was quite a disagreement over a helium balloon shaped like a shark, which Tima brought. When he came in I said, “Ooh, a shark!” which some of the kids picked up on immediately, and started saying “Shark!” But others were insisting that it was an “akula”. I tried explaining, in both languages, that one was Russian, one English, and both words were correct, but the debate raged on. I’m not sure why. They know both the English and the Russian words for lots of different animals, and it doesn’t seem to trouble them. I suppose a shark is something so special that there can only be one word for it in a three-year-old’s heart.

Yesterday I was teaching Vanya, the 8-year-old who has individual lessons twice a week. We were talking about different professions, and came across the word “cowboy” in the textbook. Vanya jumped up and found a picture he had drawn of a guy in a big hat with a gun. “Oh, so you know about cowboys already!” I said. Vanya said, “Yes but it’s not cowboy, it’s COVboy.”