When I moved to Armenia in 2003, Amassia, my oldest daughter was 3 at that time and Varanta, my second, almost one.
It was quite challenging in the beginning to adapt to the new country with 2 babies and no family support. While my husband was trying to figure out things at his new workplace, I was exploring the city, searching for services, places, interesting spots for my kids to grow and develop.
It was during one of those random exploration days that we found ourselves by chance in front of this old soviet building at the end of Abovyan street with a sign that caught my attention immediately : "MAISON VERTE (Green House) for preschool children."
It was a very hot summer day, Varanta was cranky, tired of sitting in the backpack the whole day and Amassia was exhausted from the heat and walk. So we all agreed to make a final effort and climb those scary and crooked stairs to arrive to the Green Floor and ring the long bell. Amassia was intrigued and when the door finally opened, an old Tatik (grandmother) with a friendly smile greeted us followed by a young woman who invited us in.
|The main area|
From that moment, a magical place just opened up in front of our eyes. At exactly that time we felt that this familiar place will become soon part of our home. Now, many would disagree, saying that “oh well it’s just another indoor playground” but for us, roaming the streets for the past months desperately searching for a child friendly and safe place with almost no results, this was a groundbreaking discovery! Green House looked like a peaceful haven for an almost-depressed-and-on-the-verge-of-losing-her-mind young mom and 2 eager kids still reminiscing the green parks and indoor colourful playgrounds of Montreal.
I still remember that first day. I rested on the green couch watching my kids play for hours, while chatting with the psychologist of the center about my life in general and our move to this country.
|The little cabin with a 2nd floor reserved for drawing|
I was not a big fan of Francoise Dolto but this center, initially founded by her team after the collapse of soviet union, was a place where my kids and I found refuge during the long Armenian winter days and through different experiences.
|Water toys area|
Tamara Tatik, the old lady that greeted me the first day, lived in the Maison Verte since its foundation, sometime at the beginning of the 90s. She cleaned and cooked everyday for the children coming to the center. She was the guardian of the place. Although she had weird approaches to education and sometimes exaggerated advices to young mothers, I loved to visit her and listen to her stories.
|The tricycles room|
The Rules are simple:
1- The child should be accompanied the whole time with one of the parent or a close person.
2- You don’t need to register or give your name, you can come whenever it’s convenient for you between 11-3pm Monday to Saturday.
3- It is for children from 0-4year olds
4- There used to be a box at the entrance so you can leave a small donation each time, now they are asking for 1000 AMD to be able to sustain themselves, since they have no more funding from abroad.
- - Good selection of toys and activity corners
- - Social place for both kids and parents
- - Safe environment
- - Small homemade lunch offered to the children
- - Clean
- - Changing area
- - Friendly staff
- - affordable
- - Old toys
- - situated on the 5th floor and no elevators, so a little challenging for parents with strollers
- - not accessible to people and children with physical disabilities
- - sometimes Tamara Tatik can be intrusive but she is nice in general
- - breastfeeding in the play area was not very much tolerated years ago, allowed in kitchen and dining place.
Here is how it all started:
In 1979, accompanied by a small team, Dolto founded the Maison Verte, a “nurture center” for the social education of infants from birth to three or four years old. It is a place where the child, accompanied by one or both parents or grandparent(s), will find a professional team of three, one of whom is a psychoanalyst. A Maison Verte is a place for talking, playing, and reducing tension, even as constructive prohibitions are inculcated. The success of this approach has led to the spread of Maisons Vertes, and a great many now exist in most countries in Europe. ( http://www.dolto.fr/archives/siteWeb/english/bio-en.htm)
This place was an important part of our life at different stages and today, after a long break of 4 years; I finally took my youngest there. The place looked a little different, old but neat, and most importantly Tamara Tatik was there with her smile and never-ending conversations.
Address : 44 Abovyan street - Kanach Hark