How Studying Russian Prepared me for Parenthood

on 16 June 2011

In Russian, there are two ways to express Need.  And since I don't have a Cyrillic keyboard, I'm going to write them out phonetically.  You have Nado (which you really pronounce Nada) and Noozhen

One of my Russian teachers was a really good friend who had lived in Russia for a time and he described the difference to me, thusly:  "Nado is how we would say, 'Oh, I just need a break for a minute.  Or I need to use the restroom.  Or I need a drink of water.'  It's just your basic expression of a need."  But then he went on to explain Noozhen (and I can still see his face in my head and it still makes me laugh), he said, "Noozhen is like saying, "I NEEEEEEEEEEEED this with the implication that life can't go on without it."  And at the time I cracked up laughing because I couldn't conceive of a time when I would be confronted with Noozhen.

I have to say that when the Boy tells me he needs something, he is always speaking of Noozhen.  He neeeeeeeeeeeds it or life can't go on!  And maybe I'm impervious to theatrics, but it cracks me up every time.  I guess what's funny is that I know the difference between what we really NEED (food, water, shelter, air, I might even add family or tribe to that list), and the rest...which are just varying shades of wants.  The Boy who, as yet, has no gift for nuance of any kind, doesn't recognize the distinction.  He NEEDS absolutely everything from food and water, to that car, and that enormous ball at SchmalMart.

I will say this, though.  He takes my No's very well.  And I say No (or nyet) a lot.  Some days I feel like a professional nay-sayer.  And he seldom has fits, partly because he knows we have a zero tolerance policy, and partly because he's just a good kid.  And on that note, I noozhen a cuddle from my gangly Boy.


Jeff VanD. said...

Ah, that is so beautiful. I love your insights into parenthood. You do have a wonderful boy, which is certainly a product of y'all... maybe you more than Dad... :)

The Mom said...

I noozhen a visit from the cutest little boy cousin in the family!!! See you tomorrow!!