Jaś and Maja are now three. They speed along on their bikes in the park, well beyond my capacity to keep up; they offer advice and instructions – “Take off your shoes!” “You have to get big shoes that sparkle. My shoes little shoes”: they have reasons for everything: they say “Why?” with an ocker drawl and “No!”frequently and with absolute precision. If J speaks Polish to them they don’t get it, not because his Polish is incomprehensible, but because they know dziadek speaks English.
On Monday morning we walk through the park to accompany them to preschool and establish our credentials for the afternoon pick-up. There are routines we need to learn: plastic covers for our shoes if we go beyond the entrance hall; pigeonholes for hat, gloves and scarf, and shoes; hooks for jackets; shelf for bike helmets. They put on their preschool slippers and we walk upstairs to be introduced. In the afternoon, we press a button and say their names and they are brought down to us. We dress them again for the outdoors, and then sign them out noting the time.
Liberated from indoors they tear off into the fading light on their bikes, stopping occasionally for a munch on a kanapka. By the time they get home it is dark and light snow is falling.
But the day is by no means over. While R prepares dinner, the rest of us go to the very small shop across the road where the twins insist on a kamikaze trolley each, blocking aisles and generally making things difficult for the dour evening shoppers. I fade before they do and retreat though light snow to the apartment. J writes “M & J” on the snowy windscreen of a car as we wave to them standing at their living room window.
Life in Warsaw begins.