There is a small hairdresser family business close to where we live and where all of us three go to get our hair cut. Niklas and his father got their haircuts about two weeks ago. Last week, it was my turn. I picked Niklas at his crèche and we headed to Markus and Tanja. Niklas said that he was going to get cookies there, where he certainly did every time. So, he was sure of this time as well. When we arrived, Markus met him with a cheerful: “Hello, Niklas, my friend!” Niklas loved this and smiled, a bit blushing, but happy nonetheless to be greeted in such a way. There were some people waiting and all smiled at him. After taking his jacket off, Niklas headed to the cookie jar. He certainly had his share.
While I was getting my hair cut by Tanja, Niklas was playing with his toy-cars and was demonstrating to Markus what his cars can do. He loved being asked about his cars. For a short moment he was even ready to give one of the cars to Tanja, but then thought differently of this.
After my hair was done, Tanja gave Niklas a smooze fruit ice and then she and I went to the cashier machine, so that I could pay. Niklas asked me what I was doing. I told him about paying for my haircut. He said that he wanted to pay for his ice cream. He didn’t want to hear that this was a gift and insisted on paying for it. So I gave him a 20 Danish Crones coin and he paid to Tanja. She wanted to equal my payment by subtracting this sum, but I insisted that the smooze was a separate item paid by Niklas. My two-and-a-half-years old son was very content with this move from my side. He nodded very solemnly.
When we came home and had our supper we talked about what we got at the hairdresser’s. When I prompted that he got an ice cream, he insisted that he didn’t get it, but buy it. Then we talked about haircuts and when I touched my shortly cut hair Niklas asked: “Do you have now a new head?”
“To build a respectful, kind and loving relationship, begin by being respectful, kind and loving to yourself.” Ariel and Shya Kane
We have a tradition in my family to say “Good night” in our thoughts or aloud to those whom we love dearly but who are far away or are not anymore among living….
We did it since my mother, father and I stayed in Algeria for three years and my sister was alone at a boarding school near Moscow. Then we did it after my father died. Later we extended to all we loved, even if there were sleeping in the same house or in the same bed. I still do it time to time. And the night before my husband’s birthday party this year it occurred to me that I never ever said Good-night to myself. I wondered shortly why and then said: “Good night, dear!” I had a strange but very warm feeling spreading as a wave from my head to toe.
Next morning of the party, my mother came to help me with preparations. In the past, we had stressful time doing this and had arguments what to do and how to do different things. But this time, it was so relaxing and we smiled and laughed a lot. And at some point, my mother said very spontaneously: “I love you!” You must know that she grew up in a time when saying this was considered as being loose or not educated and so on. So saying this is definitely not something that she does easily. And when she said it in the past she whether said as an answer to my “I love you” or I simply didn’t believe her. I knew she loves me in her way, but my inner reaction to her saying loving me was: “Oh she just says it like that, she doesn’t mean it!” But this time, I truly believed her and hurried to hug her. And when she said it at this moment, a similar wave of warmth washed over me as the night before when I said “Good night” to myself. And I recognized that if I am kind to myself then I am able to be kind to my mother, to be kind to people I love dearly and even to be kind to all people whom I meet on my way.
When I was six years old, my father, my mother and I left for three years to Algeria. My fifteen years old sister had to stay in Soviet Union because of many official and not so official reasons. She stayed at a boarding school near Moscow. We saw her once a year during summer vacation. We flew to Moscow, took her with us to Moldova to spend our summer break at home. And at the end of the summer vacation we flew or travelled by train to Moscow, said our good-byes to my sister and left for Annaba again. Annaba is a beautiful city on the eastern part of the Algerian coast to Mediterranean Sea.
This being apart from each other was heart-breaking for all of us and for my sister especially, because she was alone at the boarding school without us three. And although everyone was very kind to her there, she was very homesick and she cried almost every day during the first half of the school year. There are blanks in her grades during this time.
But I never saw this sadness in her letters to me. She was sending one letter to all of us and one separate for me within the same envelope. She was often drawing small pencil-drawn cartoons and enclosed small pocket calendars which changed images when you moved them. At some point I had a large collection of them.
Although some of the dearest memories I have are connected to Algeria, I hated being there as a child. The number of children in every family scared me and I asked my mother whether there was a kindergarten in every house and every flat. Almost everything was so strange and so foreign to me. Especially at the beginning, I didn’t have many friends apart from school, which was far away from where we lived initially. And Svetlana’s frequent letters were very special sweet sparkles of light in the daily routine that I didn’t quite enjoy.
The special highlight was Svetlana’s greeting on a radio show for us. In Moscow they had a special radio show for those who were far away from home: for soldiers, for diplomats and families like ours being on temporary stay and service in a foreign country. Svetlana has let us know about this show in advance. My father borrowed a radio receiver from a colleague that was able to tune the long waves and catch the sound of that Moscow radio station, the exact name of which I don’t remember today. We all gathered before the radio in good time before the show and waited until it started. We didn’t move and exhaled happily when we heard the moderator say: “Svetlana greets her mother, father and sister who are staying currently in Algeria and wished a song from Sofia Rotaru to be played as a musical gift for them”. I don’t remember the exact words. My mother and my sister will probably recall them much better, but I remember the feeling of warmness and closeness to my sister in that moment. I still have the picture of that small black radio receiver in my mind, standing on a small stool and watched and listened to intently by my father, my mother and me.
And although my sister and I hear from each other more often nowadays and today we live in the same country again, I still have this warm feeling spreading within me whenever I hear from her.