Memoirs of My Life: “Tatiana”
It is always so surprising to me that my little children and grandchildren never grow tired of hearing the stories of my life. I am nothing special – just an old, worn, and tired Russian woman. My children and grandchildren gather ‘round me as often as possible to hear the recollections of my childhood, special memories I hold dear from my life, and to somewhat experience the vastly circumstances I faced growing up a young woman in late 19th century Russia, as compared to what they all encounter today. Tonight, their insistent pleading takes me back to stories of children: that is, my own self when I was a child and my childhood, the relationship I had with my ...view middle of the document...
As such, we did jobs around our homes that a woman was able and allowed to do. We first worked as baby-sitters for our younger siblings. Really, there was hardly ever a time I could remember not caring for at least one of my younger brothers or sisters. Because Momma had so much to get done in the fields, the small children were often left in my care and protection. I had to ensure that my rowdy brother, Ivan, never screamed too loudly or dirtied his clothes too much. When he did, I had no choice by to kick him and send him to the pond to wash himself. Upon his return, I would redress him with his scrubbed shirt and begin the scolding process again when he was off doing other mischievous things, as most two- or three-year-old boys do [28, 29].
Yet, there were other tasks for older girls to complete such as working in the fields alongside our mother, weeding, digging potatoes, and carrying drinks and fetching water for the adults during the field-work season. We rinsed linens, sewed, and spun, and learned to scutch the flax and hemp . One of my favorite jobs, though, was tending to the calves. I loved feeding the young cows, watching them graze, and being around the other girls in my village. We sang joyous songs, sewed scrap pieces of material we had gathered up around our homes, and even engaged in games like jacks . While tending the calves, sometimes older boys would pass by us young ladies and make obscene remarks and outrageous gestures. To tell the truth, their actions oftentimes made us ashamed even to walk past them .”
“Why were you ashamed to walk past them?” all my grandchildren pondered, “was he not very nice to women?”
“No, not quite,” I responded. “Many times young men would use offensive language, swear excessively, and even fistfight right in front of the other girls and me,” . This shouldn’t have surprised me, though. Men abused women, punched each other for sport, and were extremely violent; they were the leaders of the house, and us women knew to be submissive to them. That was just men’s nature. However, I do not want to make childhood sound like there was no fun to be had. We made time for swimming in nearby rivers a ritual during the summer months. A large group of children, myself always included, would run down to the river in anticipation of the cool, refreshing waters. We would frolic and play for as long as time (and our mothers) allowed. Usually, our mothers would end up having to chase us out of the water with nettle or a cattle switch ,” I remembered with delight.
“During other times of the year, though, we had a multitude of games we would play. Sometimes all the boys and girls would play together, especially in games like catch, wattle fence, and radish. My favorite pastime was probably daydreaming with my rag dolls. I would pretend that my dolls were real, sometimes making them masters over peasantry, marrying them to each other, or playing as most girls do . The young boys often...