Russian woman story about her experience in adjusting to America

How I was an Angel

by Oksana Leslie, author of
How to Survive in International Marriage

russian-american familyOne day I read a small book entitled Everyday Angels by Karon Goodman. It gives advices on how to be an angel in everyday life to people around you.

I decided to try it. It was a sunny September day. I saw a moving truck not far from my new home in Pensacola. A small boy was wondering around it. I grabbed some cold canned drinks from the fridge, grabbed my 4-year-old Jessef, and walked to meet my new neighbors.

I offered to baby-sit the 4-year-old, Dylan, while his mother was busy unloading. The same day she asked me to be his permanent baby-sitter and watch her son five hours a day, five days a week. She offered to pay me what she could afford, $1.50 an hour. I agreed because I wanted to be an angel to my neighbor, an immigrant, and a single mother of three children. I also wanted to have a friend for my son.

Very soon, I realized the boys were going to have a hard time getting along. Dealing with the constant fighting and arguing was stressful. I felt like I had one child with Attention Deficit Disorder and another with Opposition Defiance Disorder. I asked my neighbor to find someone else. She did, and paid me for several weeks with a check over 100 dollars.

I deposited her check. It bounced, and put my account into minus. One day three transactions took place and my bank charged $31 for each of them! I know. You're supposed to have a cushion in your checking account. However, having gotten carried away ordering Christmas presents online, I was counting on that deposited check!

However, having gotten carried away ordering Christmas presents online, I was counting on that deposited check!
I showed my neighbor the bank fees of $98. She paid me in cash for baby-sitting Dylan. Later when I came to borrow her video camera, I learned she had pawned it in order to pay me back and pay her banking fees. I realized she could not afford to pay my fees. “Make a shopping list,” she said. “I will use my food stamps to pay you back in groceries.” I agreed, because I wanted to “be an angel”.

We remain friends. I keep her 9-year-old daughter after school and do not charge anything. Now Jessef has a friend he does not fight with and I get a little help, too.

In the book Everyday Angels I read the advice of cutting a neighbor’s grass while they are gone. It inspired me. I trimmed the hedges by my house, and went to trim my neighbor’s hedges. She was working. I was home. Why not? While trimming away I felt burning pain on my feet. I looked down. I was standing in a fire anthill! “Welcome to Florida”.

I ran home and jumped in the shower. Ants were crawling inside my pants. Now I know exactly the meaning of “ants in the pants”. A Russian who get ants in the pants will start jumping, running, and screaming, “Ai-ai-ai!!” The American will likely be shouting, “Ouch-ouch-ouch!”

The lesson I have learned: It feels good to be an angel, but you have to watch out and make sure the devil does not distract you. Amen.

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