The Russian word for “courageous” or “brave” is “manly.” This is very annoying because when I want to say that Klara is very brave – and it’s true, this is one of her most obvious characteristics – it comes out as “Klara is manly.” Which sounds outlandishly bizarre.

What a useless language.

The Giver of Life 

I turned on the Russian TV in the midst of some program and caught one of Putin’s propagandists delivering a sermon. 

“And then He came,” the man preached, his stupid little face shining with the reflected light of Revelation. “And he brought Life, Light, Truth and Hope to the world. It was a new spring of humanity. He, the great revolutionary, the Giver of change.”

Wow, look at how Jesusy these old KGB creeps suddenly got, I thought. 

“And his name is Donald Trump!” vociferated the propagandist suddenly. 

Well, it’s good to know he wasn’t taking the Lord’s name in vain, at least. 


Klara loves books. I know, what a shock. We only have every horizontal surface in this big house covered with books. She is trying to say the word “books” but for now it comes out as “boo.” There is no toy she likes more than her book collection.

Her favorite right now is “Eight Little Monkeys.” Her little face lights up with happiness whenever I start reading it to her. I think she likes it because I recite it in a singsong way and it’s repetitive and predictable. I have to read the monkeys to her at least 3 times a day.

Yesterday, I started reciting the monkeys to her while she was taking her bath. Klara was stunned. She started looking around, trying to see where the book was. It was shocking to her that the words were coming but the book was not there. She was equally stunned when N started reading the monkeys to her. She must have thought that only I could bring the words out of the book. 

It is beyond cute to see a child discover the joy of books.


Parenting is like teaching in the sense that you are much more a function than a person. If you make it about you as a person, a human being, you’ll be disappointed and miserable. 

For instance, N is unhappy because all of a sudden Klara seems to prefer me to him and wants to hang off my neck all the time. 

“What did I do wrong?” he asks. 

This is not about him, however. Just like it won’t be about him or me when at the age of 5 she’ll say, “I want to marry Daddy. Go away, Mamma.” Right now, she is undergoing the separation anxiety stage, which is normal at this age. It’s not about us as human beings. It’s about us as functions. 

Even when the children are very grown, even elderly, their parents are still much more functions than individuals to them. “This hairstyle doesn’t really suit you” carries an entirely different weight when said by a parent than by anybody else. 

It’s the same with teaching. Asking “But how can they lie to me or disrespect me” is a waste of time. You are not there. They are interacting with a function, not a person. Leave your self outside the classroom and you’ll be a fantastic teacher.