If You Were Born in Russia

If You Were Born in Russia

If You Were Born in Russia

If You Were Born in Russia


Boris, the new baby, is ten days old today. Papa went to the hospital and brought him and Mama home. Already the place is overcrowded, with six of us and Grandma in one room. Baby will just have to get used to it, like everybody else. The war wrecked millions of homes, and building new homes isn't as important as new factories. It will do him good, it's said, to eat, play and perform his natural functions in front of others, and to sleep with the lights on and to watch and listen to grownups. Living in close quarters with grownups makes a child precocious.

Anyway, Mama and Papa certainly did their level best to prepare for the new baby. Tired as she was after work, she attended the lectures at the Institute for the Protection of Mother and Child. She listened to the experts on diet. Mama ate plenty of cottage cheese and sour cream and vegetables. Whenever she could buy meat, she ate that too.

Officials spoke on "How to Inculcate Good Habits in Soviet Children," and "The Development of Character and Will Power in the Soviet Child." Mama took notes, too, so that she might remind the rest of us of our duty to our parents and to the State. As one lecturer said:

"Our children must appreciate how honorable is the title of mother in our land. Only in the Soviet Union has the State established the title of Mother Heroine and the bestowal of orders and medals on mothers of many children. And with the word 'Father' we address the great Stalin when we wish to express the feeling of filial nearness and love and respect."

Another time the speaker said:

"In our country there are no conflicts between fathers and children. Members of the older generation possess great merit in the eyes of youth. They have the rich experience gained in the revolutionary struggle and socialist construction. They set the example of the victorious attack on the stronghold of monarchy and capitalism."

Mama was deeply impressed by Lenin's letter to his mother. "Dear little Mother," he wrote. "I strongly embrace you, my dear one. How is your health? How are you?" And also by the description by Stalin's mother of her meeting with Soso (her pet name for her son). "I had not seen him for some time. I felt ill, I felt weak; but on meeting him I rejoiced as if wings had grown. Immediately both the weakness and the sickness vanished."

Some parents, it seems, asked about more practical . . .

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