I finished my last “historical” post with the memories of me climbing on the kitchen stool to wash my hands and looking at the sun in the kitchen window. It’s January 1965, and I am two years old. That’s the moment in my life starting from which I remember not just the episodes, but I remember how my life was unfolding as a story. Even though I might not remember some particular details, I remember my life in pretty much the same manner as I remember my adult life. Pushing the stool to the sink and turning on the faucet was a part of the morning routine. Sitting by the large kitchen table covered with vinyl tablecloth was a routine. Nanny Katia appeared in my life later that year, and my previous nannies (Nanny Olya, Nanny Sveta) faded from my memories. Our walks on the English Embankment (which was called the Red Fleet Embankment at that time) were parts of the daily routine as well.
My parents started to fight almost every night – that was the routine as well.
I am trying to piece it all together, and I know I should make myself open the box with their letters to restore the chronology of events, but I do not feel like doing it, at least today. Maybe I will return to this post later and edit it. But these night fights should have to be happening before Nanny Katia started to live with us, which means it should have been in the very beginning of 1965.
I have no idea why my parents thought it’s OK to fight when I was presumably sleeping. I knew better than make any noises and reveal the fact that I was not asleep. But I remember these heated arguments, maybe not every night but quite often. I do not remember whether my father stayed with us at night at that time. I know that it sounds contradictory because I just said that I remember everything from my childhood, but I know that my mom tried hard to erase all memories (at least, all positive memories) of my father. For example, she removed all pictures where my father and I are together from the photo album, except for those where I cry. I found the rest of the pictures when Boris and I scanned the original films.
I can’t imagine they could think that I am asleep when they yelled at each other, but they pretended so. Also, I do not know why being just two years old I already knew that I should not let them know I am listening.
I remember these scenes. I was in my crib; I remember peering through the rods, and I remember the night light on the desk and both of them screaming at each other.
Also, by that time, I knew that mom wanted me to hate my father. And to be honest, I remember when I hated him for my own reasons, not because mom wanted so. I remember sometime in the fall of 1964, we were on a walk together, and I wet my pants. By cultural standards of that time, babies older than 12 months were expected to use the potty most of the time and have only occasional accidents. When a child started walking, they were not wearing diapers anymore, and the accidents were visible.
I was 20 or 21 months old, and I wet my pants outside, and those were nice red pants. My father got angry and spanked me. I remember occasional accidents which happened in my mom’s presence. She never scolded me; she just laughed it off. Later, I read about these accidents in her diaries, and I know she didn’t think it was a big deal. Anyway, that’s the only instance I remember I was mad at my father. In all other cases, I just knew my mother wanted me to hate him and that when she asked me whether I wanted to have a father, I was supposed to say that I don’t.
These questions would happen in the later years; in 1965, nobody asked me what I wanted.
I do not remember being particularly scared by these late-night fights, and I do not remember having any nightmares. And during the day, life was normal.
Another frequent thing from the same time: climbing these stairs inside our apartment. Because of the ceilings’ height on each floor, I had to climb about 9.5 meters (30 feet) up, and the steps were stip. I only had a stroller for a very short time. Since I started walking, the expectations were that I could walk by myself almost everywhere. I remember being jealous when I saw other small children in the strollers on the streets because I was often very tired b=coming back from the walks with my mom or nanny. And then, I had to climb these stairs! That’s one of my worst memories of my early childhood. I would stay by the door and cry and won’t step on the stairs, and my mom would get mad and start to yell at me.
I think it’s enough of the sad episodes from my early childhood, mainly because, once again, I didn’t think about them as making me a miserable child. That was just life like other children had…
My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.