Friday, March 30, 2012

More, more more… The things I remember (2)

I read in the comments to my previous post that the routines and Conductors at the Peto Institute were "harsh". In a way I disagree- the exercises you got used to, the women pushed you forward and were expecting you to perform, but they were never mean. Unlike the nurses I knew from Poland they were warm. They were engaging and they showed a lot of personality.  I remember the kids from Israel nicknamed one of them "Crazy Marika". She wore big loopy earrings and laughed about everything. And the name caught on. On her last shift, she sat by our plinths at night to say her goodbyes and you can tell she was crying. One comment I agree with is that people had extremely high expectations and flocked to Budapest like it was the Holy Grail or the mythical Fountain of Youth although the Summer Camp I attended in Warsaw in I think '88 used the same furniture and routine. Yet, it felt less authentic. I remember that my parents adopted the way to assist me while walking a Conductor showed us. With my arms straight out and under their arms they would go backwards as I moved forward. When the women saw how I lean against any kind of back support while sitting in any chair they would have me only sit on things I couldn't rest on to keep a better posture.  There was a lot of singing with these exercises, I think it made me love musicals. But here's a funny thing: while there was a lot of attention to have us walk and sit properly, there was very little effort for us to actually be independent.

They would have us use a chamber pot when we were 9, 10, out in the public area although at home I have been using a toilet by myself for years. They always brought us bowls with water  and toothbrushes to have us wash up right there in the dining area, rather than have us actually go to the bathroom. We never buttered or put spread on the bread. They stood next to us and made our sandwiches for us. We were indoors all day. I remember two field trips, one to a planetarium and one to watch "Pinocchio" and one time we were out on a patio. I was fine with that because every day I was there,A lot is being said about "Conductive upbringing", but can you really have an upbringing of any kind without the parents involved? Mothers and fathers were not really welcome during exercises. They were never shown anything or told what to do. The only parents you'd see would be the fathers from Israel at dinner time, bringing kosher meals on plastic plates. International kids would be the only ones picked up every day. Many Hungarians were not even taken home on weekends. You couldn't not get a feeling that while foreigners did everything they could just to be there and had to pay with dollars even if they were sister-socialist states,  the locals used it as some form of daycare or boarding school....

Speaking of fun times, once they took us to the white floor where the oldest group had some artistic activities set up for us, I think it was Easter. My first kiss happened at the Institute, I believe I was 8... Once my parents left me for the weekend, because they couldn't fly over from Warsaw.. We didn't exercise, but did a lot of arts, crafts and games and the atmosphere was very laid back. But... I haven't finished talking about our daily schedule. After Lunch/ dinner we had one more session left, this one sitting in a chair and working with sticks. I remember how right before they always put the tables away by making them stand in row just like the plinths and then we waited for the floor to dry after they mopped it with a broom with a cloth wrapped around it. I remember how slippery the smooth floors were anyhow and how hard it was to walk with my sticks that had rubber tips at the end. And I remember seeing my mom when a Conductor would have us walk up to her as she was there to take me home.

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