Like a thief in the night, my daughter’s Russian school moved. We knew a move was coming, but except for a street name, the new location was not revealed. Then over the weekend, the director of the school sent an email with the new address effective that Monday
People were still going to the old location.
Aside from that, while there were a few “Ahs!” about the new building, I wasn’t impressed. It is in a medical office building, and since no remodeling was done, it still looks like a medical office space. The play room is small and has no windows. A hallway adjacent to it is empty space. I can’t help but imagine how it might have been. Maybe they will spruce up the play room and make it look inviting, but right now, it’s not.
The classrooms are small. In one room, a student desk stands perpendicular to the other desks because there isn’t enough room to fit 10 students. There is no room for growth in the new space.
There is no outside play area for children. The music room doesn’t have enough room for the children to perform. Meanwhile, a theater space is off limits because it is subleased.
On the plus side, the walls and carpet are clean. The old place looked worn, kind of Soviet, which was fitting for a Russian school. Teachers’ pictures adorned the entry hallway. The director looked grim. Some teachers beside her looked less grim, but one teacher’s picture looked like a mug shot, although in person he is nice. Many had passport-type expressions. To an American, this may seem odd, but to a Russian, honesty is valued above marketing. Forced smiles (which I wrote about in a blog post here), are not well understood.
For almost three years I took Polina to the old location. I sat in the corridors with the worn out carpet listening in on the lessons and talking with other parents. Polina was two when we started. She’s now five. She used to be afraid if I left her alone in a classroom. Now she doesn’t want me to observe. She ran to me in the old school when she needed my help. The new school is a bit of a maze until we get used to it.
Last week I did what I normally do- talk with other parents and family members without conceiving that it would be the last time we were together there. I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to the old location.
Today I went back and made my peace. The office complex will be demolished to build town homes. I don’t know who would want to live near a busy intersection, but there are many things I don’t understand these days.
Some things are still the same. The helpful teachers, the surly director, the meticulously sharpened pencils. The parents are still the same, just several years older from when we first started. And so the journey continues.