My son couldn’t wait to get out in the snow as soon as it started Sunday. In fact, he went out several times during the day and again that night. He refused to take his snow pants off even when he was inside, and after dinner he announced he was going back out.
“Fine,” I said, “but you’re going it alone.”
He got up, put his boots on (and his gloves and Turtle Fur neckwarmer and fleece headband and hat and ski goggles) and headed outside. This from a kid who hated, and I mean HATED, the cold when he experienced his first winter with us four years ago. My son is adopted. But he is adopted from Russia. My husband and I could not understand his distaste for cold weather. We wanted to say, “But you’re Russian. It’s biologically impossible for you to dislike the cold.”
I didn’t know if we had the one Russian who couldn’t tolerate cold or if, perhaps, our son had never truly experienced a harsh Russian winter. Undoubtedly, New Jersey winters were no where near as severe as those in Moscow, yet when temperatures here dipped below 70 our little Russian couldn’t take it. He was a boy after my own heart – I, too, desired to live in a tropical local – but how could he?
On the several occasions we visited Russia for the adoption I noticed a couple of things. First, the Russians blast the heat like American blast the A/C. Every place we went was stifling. In fact, we tried to lower the thermostat in our Russian hotel room, but it would not allow a setting below 75. Second, Russians like to bundle kids up no matter the temperature. When we met Vovie for the first time in June of ’06, Moscow was having record high temperatures, which meant their weather was exactly the same temperature as ours – about 80 degrees. Vovie, though, greeted us in tights layered underneath is clothes. While both boys and girls there commonly wear tights, I can only presume that summer day he was still being dressed in them for warmth. The poor kid then proceeded to sweat profusely as he ran around the yard playing with the toys we brought.
That knowledge combined with Vovie’s evident contempt for the cold lead me to believe he may never have been taken outside in the winter. His whole first winter in the States Vovie went around saying, “I not like it cold.”
I thought he may not ever “like it cold,” until this past Sunday. It may have taken the coldest day of the year in blizzard conditions to bring out the Russian in my son, but it was out. Even Monday morning as both my husband and I slept in thanks to the State of Emergency, Vovie woke, dressed in his snowsuit and crept into our darken bedroom. He stood at our bedside and shook my husband awake to ask if he could go outside. It was 7:00 am. My husband, Kevin, told Vovie he had to eat breakfast first. So Vovie went straight to the kitchen, got himself a granola bar and downed it. The next thing we heard was the front door slam.
I think what my husband meant was that we all had to get up and make breakfast, but Vovie wasn’t waiting. There was fun to be had, and he was having it.