Moldova of my childhood

The Republic of Moldova reached the 22nd year of independence. The IPN Agency decided to present the accomplishments and failures in the country’s development in a number of articles. Representatives of the current government, experts, former and current politicians stated their view on the steps taken by Moldova after August 27, 1991.

Article No. 6 of the IPN series “Moldova-22. Steps forward and steps backward”, on the occasion of the Independence Day

Childhood has a separate meaning in every person’s life. The poets write about childhood, while the singers sing it. We discussed the issue of childhood with folk music singer Maria Iliut, who was child until the proclamation of independence, mother afterward and now grandmother of a girl called also Maria.

I hid deep inside the mountains from troubles

The singer said that the children in the Soviet period were more sorrowful, but this made them more powerful. It was impossible to be otherwise as it was a specific feature of that regime and everyone had to work. There was no other alternative. Maria Iliut remembers very well those times. She was born in a Moldovan town in Ukraine, situated near the Carpathians, and she saw the mountains more often than the parents’ house as the children there started to do field work or to take the cows to pasture at the age of five. “During my childhood, I considered myself grief-stricken and unhappy and I often hid deep inside the mountains from troubles,” said the singer.

She woke up early in the morning together with her parents, took a piece of hardened maize porridge and went to graze the cows. She shared her maize porridge with other children. They ate it with berries. There was a hill in the village. Maria Iliut took the longest staircase and went to that hill that ‘joined the sky and the land’ to climb up the sky. It was a kind of game for most of the children from the village. They also played the traditional games ‘the war’ and ‘the inkpot’. They had to make the toys themselves.

During the day the children helped the parents with the housework, while in the evening gathered together in the neighborhood to play. “We went to swim and to steal cherries,” said the singer. According to her, until the 1990s the children were more responsible. The contemporary children are practically separated from nature. “We learned a lot at home. The parents told us not to step onto an ant as it hurried to her children to take them food; not to destroy the nests of swallows as your mother could die; not to hurt the frogs,” said Maria Iliut. The fact that she grew up accompanied by traditions and Moldovan music influenced her.

The 1990s brought changes

In 1990, the singer became a mother. She said that the 1990s were a period of switching over from one kind of childhood to another. Not many things changed before the proclamation of independence. The people had the same occupations, while the children had the same games. But afterward the children stated to see more candies on the holiday table and began to play other kinds of games.

However, childhood in the village cannot be compared with the childhood in the town, considers Maria Iliut. The rural children are more responsible and resourceful as they are involved in works that contribute to their development. Maria Iliut’s eldest son spent the vacations in the village. The period after 1995 came with increased attention to the child. The singer remembers that she always thought to offer him more, to buy him more candies and toys so that he lacked nothing.

Such winter people’s traditions as caroling and sowing started to disappear. In the 1990s, these traditions were observed, but after 2000 they became poorer and the children no longer wait for them as earlier.

Children became shrewder, but also more sensitive

In these 22 years, the children became more independent. There were implemented a number of laws that defend them. There were founded governmental and nongovernmental organizations that protect the child in society.  The children can go abroad to study and to travel. They can take part in different contests and can assert themselves.  The NGOs protecting children’s rights do a lot to ensure their independence, considers the singer.

The commercial sphere developed and the parents can buy everything they want to their children. It is now more expensive to raise a child and the responsibility is greater. “The children now eat eggs and dairy products once in several days. When I was a child we ate them every day and were healthy. We weren’t as sensitive,” said Maria Iliut.

Another difference between the then and the contemporary children is the astuteness. “My granddaughter has one year and several months, but already knows how to use a remote control,” said the singer. But the new technology can also cause harm to the child. When the children watch TV and play the computer a lot, they do it to the detriment of their physical development. “I have colleagues abroad, who said that the children there do not watch TV and do not play the computer endlessly. There are set limits,” she said.

Over the last 6-7 years, the children have been better promoted. Maria Iliut’s activity of over 30 years allowed her to interact in different times and with different children. There are now more festivals, contests and institutions that allow the children to showcase their talents.

Childhood is an important period in life, when the people form their personality, thinking and social attitude and the parents should adopt a correct behavioral approach to the children so as to enable them to learn what’s best and prevent them from growing up selfish persons. Maria Iliut said the children must be always raised according to the national values and patriotism so that they know what national costume is and what official language is. She was educated this way. Her son and her granddaughter are also educated this way. Every period through which Moldova went included positive and negative things, but a parent must know how to choose what’s best for their children.

Elena Bolshenko, IPN
ugust, 2013

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