Armenia In My Kids

Guest Columnist

I was being lazy lately and not writing much on my blog. The holidays came by and passed so quickly. I had planned a list of things to do, to write, to prepare for the New Year and did so little actually.

I started my 7th year in Armenia and I just noticed that my moving here and transition from the life I had in Canada to the Armenian one is so clearly embedded in my children’s different personalities.

Amassia is my Canada; she was almost 3 when we left. I was a very paranoid mom at that time and while learning the joys and pains of motherhood, I was finishing my master’s degree in Montreal. Since the North American society teaches you that every stranger that approaches your kid might is a potential abductor or the kindergarten teacher could be a pedophile, it was very difficult not to teach her from a young age to stay away from strangers or to not accept candies and to always stay beside mom or dad whenever outside. Today, she is the careful one, always watching people closely, noticing things, not smiling to strangers on the street greeting her (very common in Armenia), never accepting candies, always seeing that I am there, close in case she needs something.

She is also the one that worries about the environment a lot, gets angry when sees a broken tree, hates to see the garbage on the street and always thinking of ways to change that. Even lately, I saw her preparing recycling bags for paper and plastic and asking everyone (insisting) to use it.  She finds Armenia too dirty, too racist and sometimes boring.

Varanta is my transition period; she was 8 months old when we arrived. I think at that time I was the only mom breastfeeding in public, almost everywhere. I was even once asked at a children’s indoor playground to go to the kitchen to breastfeed. Which of course I refused to do! And had a huge argument with the psychologist on why I chose to breastfeed there where my other child was playing…but that’s a whole other story.

Varanta eats only spass(Armenian yogut soup), borsht and vermicelle and loves khachapuri, galbass (processed meat) and cheese.  She calls everyone “guyrik”(little sister) and “aperik”(little brother). She is friendly with almost everyone and when she gets angry she shouts like a crazy lady “hima tes yes inch em anelu qez! Spanelu em!” (Now, look what I am going to do with you! I am going to kill you!”.

She finds Armenia a little dirty,  not so racist and whenever she visits her grand-parents in Montreal, she starts missing her “home” back in Armenia and she repeats: gnank tun eli! Karotel em! (let’s go back, I miss home)

Vayk is my Armenia; he was born here, in Yerevan. Everyone is for him a “morkur”, “tati”, “hopar” or “guyrik” “aperik” (aunt, uncle, brother, sister or grandmother). He talks to everyone without fear.  He almost never speaks in western Armenian. He uses a lot of Russian words, which is a challenge when he talks to my parents over the phone. They completely lose it when he starts talking about “militsia”(police) and “samalyot”(plane) and “chelavek pawuk”(spiderman)… He enjoys simple things like a walk to the vernissage to pet the small dogs on sale, the bonchikanots for yummy Armenian donuts and the different children’s puppet shows on Sundays.  

I certainly learned a lot as a mother. I did let go of some of my deepest fears. I gave more space to my children to grow.

Although bad things do happen in Armenia, but I still believe it is a healthier and happier place to raise children.

January 17, 2010 – Yerevan, Armenia

From: Motherhood, Repatriation and other fictions


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  1. Raffi G said:

    I really  like to know more why she finds  Armenia too racist. I am Armenian from Lebanon and the last 20 years lived in Los Angeles and married non Armenian and have a son who is 5 year old.
    Can we survive  in Armenia???

    • raffi n said:

      Raffi, you make it sound like its pandamonium… sure she finds it racist, we do too… people here are almost entirely “ethnic armenians” – 98%. but that doesn’t mean they beat you and through things at you when you walk down the street. the word “survive” is a bit out of place. There are many Lebanese families living here. some of them are Arab. they don’t speak a word of Armenian. yet, they seem to have a pleasant life. Basically, like a lot of places in the world, don’t get in anybody’s way, they womn’t get in yours!

  2. Norin Radd said:

    What an inspiring story! How refreshing to read about the one true ultimate decision any Armenian can make in order to maintain, strengthen, and propagate our beautiful ethnicity and culture, which is to move to as well as live in our precious Armenia.
    I’m very proud of you both as an Armenian mother and a the future of our nation, please post more stories of this kind! Armenians, move to Armenia and propagate as well as procreate. Dr. Radd prescribes 2-3 kids, preferably half a dozen!

  3. Nareg Seferian said:

    What lovely sentiments, Lara! Աստուած զաւակներուդ պահէ: :-)

  4. Tsovinar said:

    Lara, you named Armenia so lovely! Right, they are your children! And you are Armenia! :)

  5. Vache Thomassian said:

    Your faith puts a smile on my face. Your story of repatriation is great, the fact that you choose to raise your children in their homeland really speaks volumes. We get caught up in thinking Armenia is a distant place or a retirement possibility, but stories like yours show that our future is there only if we want it to be and make it so.
    Keep up your amazing work with WRC!

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  8. Abraham said:

    I love the positive and realistic messages Lara gives us on every post…
    And the hopt she is bringing to thousands of Armenians everyday!

  9. Charles Masraff said:

    Thats the dichotomy …..a better place to bring up kids but not yet for sure a better place for our kids to live when they grow up!!

  10. Gayane said:

    I don’t have children of my own; however if one asks where would you like to raise your kids when you have them, I would have to say ARMENIA, hands down.. Our own Motherland with her many faults and infavorable conditions are far more better than any country with full of riches.. Armenia teaches our children to be children.. to be carefree, full of life and love.  Children IN US know nothing about what is human to human interaction because tv, video games, and the dangers that lurking ont he streets prevent them to be children.. I am very lucky to have had that childhood in my country.. I thank my lucky stars that I knew what childhood truly means because I was born and grew up in a county where  I did not have restrictions, don’t go here and there, be close to mom and dad, don’t take anything from strangers, and dont’ talk to anyone.. I wish that when the time comes and I decide to become a mother, i would have the strength and courage like Lara and head toward my homeland…

    I agree that once the children are grown, it is very difficult for them to live under the current conditions.. as adults it may be a bit difficult but we, the ARmenians always overcome the most challenging and difficult issues…

    God Bless Lara and all future families that will prosper and grow in Armenia..

  11. Hayastantsi :) said:

    I was born and raised in Armenia as a happy and a proud Armenian, but during last 10-13 years I start thinking about not raising my children here because of so many “bad things” taking place in our lovely fatherland.

    Lara jan, people like you inspire us to think twice before packing, people like you give us hope that some day Armenia will be a better place for our kids when they grow up.

  12. raffi n said:

    You know, the grass always seems greener on the other side – mostly from Armenia.
    Honestly, life for children, adults, retired seniors, families… it could be very sweet in Armenia, only if you let it. Every country has its good-bad issues – Armenians (in both Armenia and the diaspora) tend to focus on the bad whenever they think about Armenia; it’s not, really!

  13. Harout said:

    Hello Lara
    Your story is amazing and inspiring to all of us.Good for you, I applaude you for your decision to raise your kids in Armania. One isuue I have is that “breastfeeding in public” story. In Ohio, US, that became a court case in 1977 and the controversity lasted for two years. I don’t understand your point of view. What are u trying to prove?. Exposing your breasts in public for the armenian society in Yeravan?. You were told by their psychologist in your own story her point of view that she/he disagrees with you. You should respect whats acceptable in Armenian society in Armenia, and not challenge their (our armanian) culture. You only will encourage whats wierd in here,the west, US and canada, and the perception of the locals who think some of us are wierd in their openion.Please don;t be a wierdo as I suspect you are, and don’t damage the image of others who may decide to move to Armania.Seak a psychiatrist to adjust you (Armenian psychiatrist ,preferably in Armania, or may be your husband,if he has some manhood).
    P.S. You are below pretty in that pic

    • Jay said:

      In reference to Harut’s comment. If the mother wishes to breastfeed her toddler in public, that is entirely up to her to make that decision,not yours. When are you ‘Old Schools’ will learn to ‘Live and Let Live’?

      By the way,It’s not ‘Armania’ it’s ARMENIA.

      • Gayane said:

        Hello Everyone!!

        As much as I believe in freedom to do what is suitable for own self, I do not agree breastfeeding in public. That is a private matter between the child and the mother and not to be shared with everyone walking by.

        Even though Harout did not express his thoughts and feelings in a more constructive way and came off too strong, I agree with him in regards to respecting the culture and the way of things that are done in the native country.

        I don’t consider myself “Old School” .. i am far from it but I do have respect to the people living in our country.. I won’t feel comfortable breastfeeding my child in public no matter where I am.. I understand it is a choice a mother needs to make, but we are not in a society where we can do what we want to do as if we are in US.

        So as I respect both Harout and Jay for their input, I personally won’t do it… however, I definintely admire and I bow to the decision Lara made for her children.. I wish alot more people take that leap of faith and chance for their own children’s future.

        Just my two cent..

    • Nareg Seferian said:

      Your comment is vile and completely out of place. The way you spell things makes me strongly suspect that you are a Turk or an Azerbaijani, masquerading under the Armenian name “Harout”.

      Whether you are or you are not, or whether some people are uncomfortable with seeing breast feeding in public or not, there is no reason to offend the author, her family and her readers in this way.

  14. Ninsky said:

    so right on Raffi djan and all others who are pro. Just remember the more diasporans come and take hold of their right to live in this country, the more the country will prosper in uncountable ways. And the biggest beneficiaries of this would be of course the children.