Several times over the last three weeks I have run into a pair of young (8, 9-year-old) girls whos’ after-school nanny lives in my building. Seeing me the first time, their eyes widened: they instantly took an interest in the foreigner. Subsequently, we’d chat in the elevator, and they would often ride to the 12th floor and let me get out first before going to their nanny’s apartment on the 8th.
More recently, though, they’ve taken to rushing from school to arrive in the building earlier than normal and knocking on my door, asking to come in. I let them in and, leaving the door open, let them run around the apartment opening cupboards and examining things. My computer is a favorite. Invariably, though, the slightly plumper of the two eventually gets tired and asks me first for a cookie and, failing that, money. I don’t give her either. The other wants to know why I leave the door open. Not wanting to explain what the neighbors might think otherwise, I shrug and smile.
On the one hand, they sort of terrorize me since I’m not used to being around kids; but on the other, they are funny, they speak Russian with me and teach me a few words in Kazakh, and I’m not worried about them stealing anything from me (except for food). Furthermore, I sort of feel like it is my obligation as a Fulbright grantee, tasked as I am with representing my country abroad, to make a good impression on these girls. I want them to think kindly of America when they grow up, right?
My Russian teacher thinks I should have nothing to do with them. However, she’s also told me in the past that she doesn’t trust children, so she’s biased. Advice?