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Harry or the

Harry or the


Mikhail Mirer

pediatric doctor, neuropathologist (USA)

The bow tie for the whole day in the office rubbed my neck and I with pleasure and relief took it off, sitting in the car. Such a trifle, but how nice. Today they brought a fifteen-year-old teenager again, and again the same thing. I myself have long been able to tell parents their whole story, right after the first sentence, so it has become typical. He studies poorly, no motivation, irritable, mood swings, verbally aggressive, rolls up scandals, no attention, you won’t put him up at night, you won’t pick him up, he’s all wrong, he has no respect for the elders, he talks like a trucker in the parking lot, mat-mate. Checked for drugs - clean. Doctor, what can I do with him ?! Probably something neurological.

I spoke with my Moscow friend and shared my observations, and he answered me: “You won’t believe it, we have the same thing.”

I thought, and indeed it was, then in the 90s the whole country moved from one formation to another, which is essentially the same immigration. Many people flew the ground from under their feet, lost their jobs, or had to completely change their profession, the same problems of survival and finding themselves in a new life. Everything appeared, including gangsters, everything except money. The same pathogen usually causes the same diseases as in Moscow, which in New York.

I do not pretend to be an absolute opinion, but it seems to me that the reason for this gap between children and parents was the explosive development of technology and the Internet in the late nineties and this only continues to accelerate. Objectively, parents who are quite young in age have turned into deep retrogrades in just 10 years. Somehow, the older children did not manage to be sucked into this centripetal funnel. In addition, their “line” of measuring quality of life, like that of parents, begins with negative values, and among young people, it starts only from scratch. The cart was in front of the horse, and away we go!

They arrived from Moscow in the ninety-second, directly, and in ten hours of flight they turned from a refrigeration engineer at a meat factory and a music worker in a kindergarten into nothing, without language, money and profession. Grandmother, with a bouquet of a million diseases and two children - one-year-old Igor and ten-year-old Sasha did not add optimism either.

Sasha, the eldest, received a pack of chewing gum for a quarter and a pack of felt-tip pens as a gift for his first birthday in America a month after his arrival, as there was no money at all. At the same time, he was absolutely happy. He somehow very quickly mastered and became almost the first in a class in mathematics. Slightly behind in English, but quickly catching up. He was always cheerful and dynamic. He himself figured out how to earn extra money after school. He stood near the grocery store and offered to help people bring bags to the car. Tipping was by no means a bad run-in for entertainment.

Now the eldest son is studying in the fourth, last year at the medical institute in Long Island. Every day he calls, asks how everything is, how are things. To the question: "How are you?" Always answers, which is good, do not worry. Now he has Gelfrand, also a Russian girl, from the same medical institute, only one year younger.

When he comes to visit, it is always a joy. Food, tea, talking, laughing and always feeling like after valerian - calm.

He never asked for money and somehow always was content with what was. He still earns money, plus the money that he took to study at the bank includes money for living. In the end, of course, you will get huge amounts, but the doctor will calmly pay them for 15-20 years without straining.

Parents started from scratch. Mom graduated from the school of ultrasound and worked in a large office, gaining extra hours to earn extra money. Dad, having shook his clothes from a furniture carrier to a taxi driver, finally found a loophole and went to a private school that was opened by two tadpoles - an engineer from Kiev and from Moscow. For a year, they trained former engineers to pass the exam, which was needed to get a job in the subway. Work in the subway guarantees a salary, family insurance, a pension, a trade union, and in general resembles socialism in the form in which the founders came up with it. Graduates of this school successfully passed the exam in 90% of cases, so there were rumors that these two had bought the exam and know the answers. It's ridiculous of course, but the sick matrix in the heads of many moved with their masters to America, like a virus. They see everything around as a conspiracy, a setup and a kid, and also believe that everything can be bought for money. It is not surprising that their children, who have finished school here, openly chuckle at their parents, while often pitying them, as in some sense flawed.

Harry was Igor by birth and his name was changed to English when they received a green card, so that like everyone else.

Grandmother sat with him while his parents fought hard to get to their feet. He was no different from the rest of the kids on the playground. At five, he went to school. Soon at home they noticed that the boy did not want to speak Russian. He can pretend that he has not heard, or answer in English to his grandmother, knowing that she does not understand. With this, especially no one fought at home, and smoothly switched to "ranglish" - a wild mixture of Russian and English. It turned out like - go wash your hands, your food will cool, will you send sausages?

By this time, parents, like a float, themselves had already jumped out above the surface of the water and life began to take its normal shape. There was some money, a car, the first time they rented a summer house in the mountains, the first time went to the Caribbean. Everything is like people have.

The younger one had no denial of anything. Somehow subconsciously, the parents tried to compensate for what they did not have in childhood and what the elder did not get because of the difficulties of starting immigration.

No one noticed how gradually a crack appeared in Harry's brain. For some time he began to be shy of his parents, speaking with an accent, he did not want to eat olivier with mayonnaise, he did not understand why you can not live like the rest of the children at his school. He heard one thing on TV, another at school, and the third at home, and so on day after day. He was annoyed by his parents, who had difficulty turning on the computer and trying to put pressure on the touch buttons of the iPhone. Stories from their past lives are as far away as the history of ancient Rome. Their constant advice from the position that we are supposed to be the smartest survived there and here we know how they aroused hostility and repulsion. He did not want to go to a Russian restaurant and celebrate new holidays with his family, such as, for example, Thanksgiving. He was sick of racist jokes and “expert” comments about the policies of his parents and their friends. He was ready to go to anyone, if only not with his parents. Harry no longer understood who he was. He, like an electrified speck of dust in a ray of light, dangled alone. As a result, communication was minimized, give it, give it. When Harry was at home, he tried not to leave his room and stuck out near a computer with headphones on his head, and a pre-storm atmosphere always reigned in the air. Any conversation began immediately on elevated tones and ended in scandal. It bothered him that the elder was constantly set as an example. and there was always a thunderstorm atmosphere in the air. Any conversation began immediately on elevated tones and ended in scandal. It bothered him that the elder was constantly set as an example. and there was always a thunderstorm atmosphere in the air. Any conversation began immediately on elevated tones and ended in scandal. It bothered him that the elder was constantly set as an example.

He studied medium, without interest and did not even have a rough idea of ​​who he wanted to become, and this is something in the graduation class.

He was dragged to the psychologist, then to the Russian, then to the American. Russian could not find contact with the child, and American with parents. Both gave advice, offered pills and all with zero result.

He walked slowly, as if dancing, and from far away it seemed that he was slightly struck by electric shock, from which the whole body seemed to tremble. Oversized sweatshirt with a hood pulled over his head, like a capuchin monk, and huge headphones over the hood.

Frilly trousers, a mixture between jeans and leggings, and sneakers, of such a color that thirty years ago you could only see in the circus of a clown. He returned from the club, where he hung out all night, after disconnecting the phone, so that Mom wouldn’t get out with a question where you are.

Brooklyn's early morning in the fall, gray and dank. It seems that it’s not drizzling rain, but someone is spraying a spray bottle. The face gets wet somehow all at once, and not from drops as in a thunderstorm in the summer. A nasty, gusty wind blows from the ocean. Almost all metro lines to Brighton run above the ground on stilts. Trains, resembling a thick silver caterpillar, creep and rattle creep over the city, only occasionally illuminating the sides with electric sparks from the contacts. She did not sleep all night, going to the window every time after a metro train, and peering into the darkness for a long time, she looked to see if the familiar silhouette of her son appeared.

Now, when she saw her son walking in a jog, she exhaled and went to the bath, after two hours she needed to work, she had to wash herself and get ready. In principle, there’s nothing to talk to and about.