What Do You Think?

When N. was 4, his parents forgot to pick him up from the kindergarten and left him there overnight. This was not an overnight kindergarten, so the kindergarten employees simply left, thinking that his parents must be late and would certainly come and get him eventually. There was a night watchman somewhere on the premises, so they just left the little boy there.

N. sat there alone, in the dark, all night long, crying and wondering why all the other kids did get picked up and what he had done wrong to deserve to be left alone. In the morning, the kindergarten workers came back and found him.

If you are thinking that N.’s parents were teenagers who got overwhelmed with parenthood and had no idea what they were doing, you are wrong. His father was 38 and his mother 31 at that time.

If you are thinking that N.’s parents had many children and the absence of a single kid wasn’t noticed among 7 or 8 other children, you are wrong. N. was their only child at that time.

If you are thinking that N.’s parents were drug addicts, alcoholics or anti-social individuals who lived on the margins of society, you are wrong. They both had university education and the father had an advanced degree in engineering. They had a car and a small dacha, so this was definitely not a poverty-stricken family.

I’m publishing this because N. wants to know what people think about this true story. It is very difficult to form a judgment or to see things clearly when you have been brought up in a certain environment and have no idea how normal (or not) it looks to others. So please express your reactions to this.

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69 comments on “What Do You Think?

  1. I would think that N’s parents were committed, brain-washed communists who had no understanding of anything but crass Marxist-Leninism. To leave an only child alone all night, in the absence of drugs, or insanity, suggests that they were dehumanized to a degree that those privileged with Western civilization simply cannot comprehend. His parents are less than human, less even than most animals. I hope that they currently rot somewhere in Siberia. What a pair of trash!

    • Must be those “committed, brain-washed communists” that were “dehumanized”, aka animalized by Communism. My grandmother was a committed communist, and she was one of the best, most loving people I have ever known. I see the Cold War mentality is still as alive in US, as it’s alive in Russia.

      Your next door neighbors could well do much worse, Charles, and country’s regime has nothing to do with it.

      Returning to the post’s question: did they think the uncle took N to his home?

      • “Your next door neighbors could well do much worse, Charles, and country’s regime has nothing to do with it.”

        – Still, the incidence of child abuse and really horrible mistreatment of children is much much higher in the USSR and former USSR than anywhere in the US at any time in modern history. When I was 5-6, several of the little girls in my building were brutalized by their parents on a regular basis to the point where their bodies were black and blue. My mother’s students would come to school beaten to a pulp. My own grandfather beat his daughter to within an inch of her life. A doctor broke my nose with his fist during a procedure. Nobody thought there was anything even remotely problematic with these events. And this is straight out physical abuse. I’m not even talking about psychological abuse.

        “Returning to the post’s question: did they think the uncle took N to his home?”

        – Possibly, yes. After the whole thing happened, the parents could have done a lot to try to remedy the damage. But they never did. The mother still refuses to see this as anything other than entertaining.

        • Even today in Russia the attempts to introduce some kind of social services that would deal with the most egregious instances of child abuse get stalled because nobody wants to give up on their favorite pastime, which is child abuse.

          Charles Rowley is absolutely right: this is the legacy of totalitarianism.

  2. Getting signals mixed up (who was supposed to pick up the kid on what day) or just plain not noticing the time for a couple of hours seems understandable. My mother once left me at the house of the people we knew and didn’t realize I wasn’t in the car till she got home. But there were adults and thier kids around and as soon as she got home she realized what happened she returned and fetched me (within a half an hour).

    Not noticing (or caring?) your son is not home and not talking with your spouse about that are definitely. not. normal.

    And the kindergarten employees are no better. One of them should have taken him home (leaving their address and phone, if they had one, with the nightwatchman for when the parents did arrive). This is just inexcusable all the way around.

    What decade was this?

    • He is my age, so this was in 1980.

      “Not noticing (or caring?) your son is not home and not talking with your spouse about that are definitely. not. normal.”

      – Not caring is the answer here, from everything else I have seen.

      “And the kindergarten employees are no better. One of them should have taken him home (leaving their address and phone, if they had one, with the nightwatchman for when the parents did arrive).”

      – This was what USSR was like. By the 1980s people grew really cold, aggressive, and cruel.

  3. My guess, based on the available information, is that his parents sound like severe workaholics to the ridiculous extreme of being completely unable to pay attention to absolutely anything else in life. I mean, I could see forgetting to pick up your only child initially, but how the hell could you not notice once you were home for a while?

  4. Charlie the idiot strikes again!

    Clarissa, I’m not sure where you’re going with this. They clearly seem unfit to be parents, or even human beings for that matter. Unless there’s something you’re not telling us.

    • “They clearly seem unfit to be parents, or even human beings for that matter.”

      – Thank you.

      All I want is to show to N. that people don’t perceive this situation as normal. People who grow up in abusive environments find it extremely hard to see what was done to them as actual abuse. You and I might find it very easy to pass a judgment on this situation. But that’s because we are seeing it from the outside.

      Usually, it really helps people from abusive environments to see how others react to their stories.

      • Abusive families shift one’s sense of judgment to such a degree that you have to go through life constantly asking everybody, “Is this normal? Is this how things should be?”

        The abuse doesn’t end just because you grow up. :-( :-(

  5. “The mother told the father to pick him up, the father told the uncle, the uncle got distracted, ha ha ha, isn’t this SO funny?”

    This could explain some of the delay, but not how they managed to sleep this night.

    “And maybe this is the worst part – that nobody ever admitted it was not a totally cool thing to do.”

    They are even more moronic that I thought first.

  6. Clearly a Trade Union dominated country with everyone having carefully delineated ‘duties’. If the kindergarten staff ‘worked’ longer than their mandated hours, they would be disciplined by the union. The night watchman was there to protect against intruders, and since the child was not an intruder, the watchman would be breaking rules by dealing with a non-intruder. The parent who asked the uncle to pick up the child was permitted to delegate the responsibility, but had no authority to supervise the end result. Had the parent attempted to supervise, it would be deemed to be a breach of his union mandated role and he would be disciplined. Blaming the uncle for not doing his job would have resulted in immediate complaints to the Labour Relations Board, Human Rights Tribunal, and 14 other Government Agencies. Besides, it was only a kid,
    and at this point, WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE???”

    • Unions in the USSR were a formality, they never actually did anything and nobody heard from them. This was basic indifference, that’s all.

      And just saying the words “human rights” would mark you as a subversive.

    • In the case of kindergarten starr, it was probably more a case of ‘my job is to do certain things for children left here during certain hours’ and that was it. Within the old East bloc they would not be rewarded for doing a good job or going beyond the call of duty or punished for doing a poor, bare minimum job (leaving a frightened lonely child by himself). Promotions and punishments were dealt out completely independently of performance.

      • “In the case of kindergarten starr, it was probably more a case of ‘my job is to do certain things for children left here during certain hours’ and that was it. Within the old East bloc they would not be rewarded for doing a good job or going beyond the call of duty or punished for doing a poor, bare minimum job (leaving a frightened lonely child by himself). Promotions and punishments were dealt out completely independently of performance.”

        – Exactly. People simply didn’t care. And everything that had to do with taking care of children attracted especially cruel people. Kindergarten staff, pediatric doctors, primary school teachers – these were all really cruel, horrible individuals. Many were straight-out sociopaths. Everybody I know has horrible stories of what teachers and doctors did to them in childhood. And, of course, the parents never defended one.

  7. Definitely a case of sad neglect and abuse. In N’s situation, I’d have a hard time wrapping my head around it as well. :(
    I sympathize with the idea of trying to get parents to admit that what they did was hurtful and wrong. It’s been about ten years since my mother brought her boyfriend into me and my sister’s life, and brought a load of abuse and psychological terror into it as well, and she still hasn’t apologized for it, she laughs and remarks things like “You girls were so funny, such rebellious teenagers, running away from home all the time and crying in fear and hiding in your closets whenever my boyfriend and I got drunk and fought, haha.”

    • This is precisely what messes with the abuse victims’ minds so much: the abusers present the whole thing as not even worthy of attention. And if the victims insist, they get told that they are exaggerating, they are inventing things, lying, they are ungrateful, etc. :-(

      Thank you for understanding.

      • Bakunin formulates two interesting partial answers.

        1) Liberty without socialism is privilege and injustice (e.g. “anarcho”-capitalism). Socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality (i.e. North Korea)

        2) Someone is free if and only if everybody is free.

  8. What a totally shocking story. I can’t imagine that NO ONE noticed their only child was not at home that night. Call themselves parents? They weren’t fit to be in charge of any living creature by the sound of it, not even an amoeba!

    You might be temporarily absent-minded, but there’s no way that such a situation should endure all night. The poor little boy, I’m surprised he wasn’t traumatised by it permanently.

    And the nursery staff were no better. Fancy leaving a child alone instead of waiting until someone arrived, or calling the police to contact the parents. Unbelievable. Nothing about the story is normal!

    What an inhuman system, and to think there are those who yearn for a return to those times.

  9. This would have terrified me as a child. My mom was late picking me up once when I was in third grade, and I thought she forgot me. She was about a half hour late, and that was the worst half hour of my life. I can’t imagine being left over night. That’s straight-forward child abuse and neglect. I imagine that American parents would be arrested for something like that. Then again, our school system wouldn’t allow a child to stay overnight at the school. They would at least call the parents or the police or someone.

    This makes me so sad for N. I thought that MY parents didn’t give a shit about me. This story makes my experience sound completely boring and normal.

  10. What a very sad story. Poor N. That’s the sort of neglect that leaves a very deep wound. I really can understand that sometimes signals get mixed up and someone forgets to pick up a child. But to “forget” all night? What is the explanation? That they thought N was spending the night at his uncle’s house? So awful. It’s even sadder that he has managed to normalize it in his mind. Well I am glad that he has found a loving wife who will never neglect him emotionally :) So the story has a happy ending……….I am also shocked at the neglect of the school. I used to work with very young children at a daycare setting and the rule was that one person had to stay until the last child was picked up. And it’s not a day care thing. Every (public) grammar school I know has a similar policy…especially for Kindergarten/First grade children………..I suppose I am naive but I really am surprised that N’s story happened in a Socialist system. I would have guessed that sort of neglect would be the side effect of “wild capitalism”—not socialism. In a Socialist system, I would have assumed that the state would eagerly step in to any remotely abusive situation in an attempt to sever familial ties and have “state run parenting.” I just find the whole story shocking.

    • I suspect that Evelina hasn’t been reading this blog for very long to be surprised at the failure of socialism… or actually, communism. :)

      • “I suspect that Evelina hasn’t been reading this blog for very long to be surprised at
        the failure of socialism.”

        I have been reading this blog for years. Ha ha. :) I guess I thought that socialism’s failure would swing the other way: i.e. placing a child in an orphanage because the parent was 10 minutes late. But Fie is right: I should have known better after what Clarissas has revealed. :)

        • ” I guess I thought that socialism’s failure would swing the other way: i.e. placing a child in an orphanage because the parent was 10 minutes late.”

          – This is what the conservatives want us to believe. The really funny thing, though, is that the system they claim to abhor is so very similar to the one they would want to have in place. You are absolutely right when you say that the mentality the USSR system produced is very similar to the dog-eat-dog wild capitalism.

    • “What a very sad story. Poor N. That’s the sort of neglect that leaves a very deep wound.”

      – Thank you!

      “But to “forget” all night? What is the explanation? That they thought N was spending the night at his uncle’s house? ”

      – Yes, everybody assumed he was with somebody else and nobody cared enough to ask.

      ” It’s even sadder that he has managed to normalize it in his mind.”

      – Exactly! This is the worst part because in order to normalize it you need to reach the belief that you don’t really deserve anything better.

      “Well I am glad that he has found a loving wife who will never neglect him emotionally So the story has a happy ending.”

      – Very true! :-) :-)

      “I suppose I am naive but I really am surprised that N’s story happened in a Socialist system. I would have guessed that sort of neglect would be the side effect of “wild capitalism”—not socialism.”

      – This was a socialist system in the most classic definition of the term – the state owned the means of production. This wasn’t accompanied by any social welfare systems. Nobody did anything for the disabled, single parents, the elderly.

      “In a Socialist system, I would have assumed that the state would eagerly step in to any remotely abusive situation in an attempt to sever familial ties and have “state run parenting.””

      – Those ties get severed much more easily if the people have been traumatized to the level where they massively brutalize their own children. Then you can achieve your goals with no extra expense involved. :-(

  11. And to think some people were bashing international adoptions from Russia. You would imagine parents like this were typically from the west, you know, self absorbed and all. I guess that type of behaviour knows no borders. :(

    • ” You would imagine parents like this were typically from the west, you know, self absorbed and all.”

      – A patriarchal mentality – that is mostly banished in the West – sees children as their parents’ property.

    • “And to think some people were bashing international adoptions from Russia”
      As sad as N’s story is, I hardly think that allowing a self righteous American couple to purchase him and forcibly remove him from everything he understood would have improved his life. N’s life seems to have worked out–partly because he and Clarissa both are able to share and bond over their Soviet upbringing. Again, I think what happened to him is terrible. I just don’t think American adoption is the answer.

      • “As sad as N’s story is, I hardly think that allowing a self righteous American couple to purchase him and forcibly remove him from everything he understood would have improved his life”

        – Absolutely true. There is no psychological health without knowing your roots, understanding them, and creating a narrative of your own that will explain them.

        ” I just don’t think American adoption is the answer.”

        – It would only make things worse. There was this story of a small Russian boy adopted (by way of a bribe) by an American woman a few years ago. She kept him for 2 years, then got bored, and sent him back to Russia with a note saying that she was returning him. Like a purchase that didn’t suit her needs. But imagine the boy who had already been abandoned once and now got abandoned again – and all before the age of 8!

  12. As sad as N’s story is, I hardly think that allowing a self righteous American couple to purchase him and forcibly remove him from everything he understood would have improved his life. (Evelina)

    Do you make such blatant generalizations in all areas of your life??

      • There was another case on the news recently. A rich woman in Russia adopted a little girl and immediately started abusing her. The girl ran away, knocked at a neighbor’s door, explained what was happening, and asked for help. Later she testified against the abusive woman.

        And now imagine how much worse the story would have been if she didn’t speak the language of her new country, didn’t know how to ask for help and couldn’t explain what was happening to her. So I agree completely that “I literally can’t think of one good reason to seek out international instead of domestic adoption.”

      • Good for you. That doesnt mean that your characterization of all American adopters of Russian children is even remotely close to being accurate.

        • ” That doesnt mean that your characterization of all American adopters of Russian children is even remotely close to being accurate.”

          – The problem is that nobody can prove or disprove this statement because there is no control over these adoptions at any stage. This is precisely the problem. These kids get purchased (for huge bribes and against the law) and then nobody has any supervision in the matter.

          Remember the pedophile who adopted a Russian girl and then sold pornographic photos of her by the thousand?

      • The problem is that nobody can prove or disprove this statement because there is no control over these adoptions at any stage.(Clarissa)

        Exactly, and if you and other people want to focus only on the shitty adopters, then be my guest. But, remember, there is always another side to the coin.

        “The world is 50% shit, 50% sugar, you choose where you put your focus. But just remember, if you stand in shit long enough it dries around you”.

      • In any case, let’s take this discussion over to the adoptions thread because this thread is reserved for N.’s story.

        Ok, sorry

  13. Here recently two parents got their wires crossed: each thought the other had taken the baby to day care. Really the baby was in the car of one of them, and s/he did not realize it. So baby was left in closed car all day and was dead when the parent came out of work.

    This is spacey, neglectful, horrible and sad, and it ended in death, but it was a mistake. What happened to N is more pervers because between the teachers, the watchman, and the parents, someone should have noticed the mistake and done something. That the parents did not go to the school is totally bizarre.

    • ” Really the baby was in the car of one of them, and s/he did not realize it. So baby was left in closed car all day and was dead when the parent came out of work.”

      – This happened to an adopted Russian boy whose name was given to the law banning international adoptions.

      ” What happened to N is more pervers because between the teachers, the watchman, and the parents, someone should have noticed the mistake and done something. ”

      – Thank you!

      • “Really the baby was in the car of one of them, and s/he did not realize it. So baby was left in closed car all day and was dead when the parent came out of work.”

        This tragedy happened to someone I knew pretty well. Now that I have a child myself I know that it could happen to me too, unfortunately.

  14. When I was 7 my parents asked one of their friends to pick me up from school. The friend forgot and I ended up waiting outside the school for an hour before going back in and finding the teacher. The teacher, who had been alerted to the fact that someone else was supposed to pick me up that day, called my parents. I remember my parents being upset and angry at their friend, and the friend frantically apologizing to both them and me.
    That was my experience of a situation like that. I remember that waiting outside for an hour was upsetting, but every adult involved considered it to be their problem until I got home. Also, the whole time I was only two blocks from my house. I had walked to school, and I usually walked back, but my parents were afraid that if I walked home to an empty house that they wouldn’t figure it out in time if I were abducted.

  15. This is such a horrible fail by all the adults involved that I just don’t know what to say. Please give N a huge hug from me.

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