daily preciousness

Friday, September 10, 2004


Nadia is the official Punky Brewster of my school.

No. Actually, make that Punky Brewster-ovich.

This little 6-year-old cutie didn't have two rubles to rub together two years ago. She and her brother Viktor were living in Russia. When Dad lost his job, the family fell on tough times. Until the U.S. Government stepped in, that is. Uncle Sam paid Dad a nice salary to come to D.C. and consult.

So now, Nadia and Viktor live in the tony suburb of Arlington. And the kids' English is coming along quite nicely, despite their casual neglect for definite and indefinite articles. (They still haven't gotten the hang of the words "the" and "a".)

Nadia is a difficult child. She's stubborn as Sasha, the proverbial Russian bear. She's moody. Nadia is a fighter; she picks fights with her teachers and children twice her age. She attempts to spar with her librarian (me). Plus, the girl always needs an extra five minutes to pick out her book. Despite all of this, she's one of the most loveable kids I teach. (Maybe that's because I know her backstory!)

Yesterday she let me know what she liked the most about the library. (One of the "rules" in the Library Constitution is "Find something you love about the library.") In a loud, gutteral and fiesty voice, she proclaimed, "What I love about librrarry is Meester Librrarrian!" To emphasize her point, she punched the air above her with both hands, bringing to mind the body language of another great fighter, Muhammad Ali.

To top that, she came by after school. To make an offering. She walked up to my desk with a face as proud and self-assured as the statues of Lenin which once stood in Red Square. This little waif sautered up to my desk and offered me a shiny quarter. "What's this," I ask. "Ees for Meester Librrarrian," she replied, all smirk and sass, gleefully adding "Ees present!"

"Oh, thank you -- that's very nice, but you should keep your quarter," I told her.

She looked as though she was about to disagree. So I took her hand and gently closed her skinny fingers around the coin. She burst out in a broad smile, her freckles a constellation of good cheer.

Thanks, Nadia.


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