A year in Dnepropetrovsk

An American volunteer in Ukraine

More cultural differences

“I went to the toy store to buy a gift for Ksyusha,” a friend was telling me the other day. “And I was totally surprised! They have everything there! I’ve never seen so many toys in my life! When I went to Oksana’s house to give the gift to her, I saw all the stuff that Elizavetta [her daughter] has. There’s this… thing, for example, that hangs over her cradle and spins and plays music and everything!”

“Yeah, so?” I snorted.

“So? SO? Why do you need all that? When I was growing up, we didn’t have that stuff. I had a few toys, and that was it. Back when I was a kid, you didn’t buy toys in a store, you passed them down from parent to child. Mom gave me the toys she played with as a kid, and so did Dad.

“I had books, blocks, and a car. You know those cars that children sit in and wheel around with their feet? I had one of those. Super! You don’t need more than that!

“I got a gun, a toy gun, when I was a little older, but Dad was a goat and wouldn’t let me play with it.”

I opened my mouth to make fun of him, talking like he’s eighty years old when really this all took place in the early 90s, but thought better of it and remained silent.

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