Here is Ilya as we know him now. Always wearing "the hat". Since the episode with the haircut and the razor, Ilya has not been seen outside the house, anyway, without his hat. And, though you can't see it so well from this photo, the unique aspect of this particular hat is that it is worn high atop the head (to hide the offending shaved part) making Ilya look a little like Ghenkis Khan.
This is Ilya about to go into Natalya's house. Natalya is a lovely woman, the teacher in our Russian school, and she just happens to also run a daycare. I think there are no accidents. Surprisingly, it seems to me now that this change from going to school, to going to Natalya's was fortuitous.
I do not really understand why, but Ilya seemed to be learning almost nothing at school. I didn't expect him to learn about whales, or about the distributive/associative/commutative properties, but I did expect he'd be learning some basic English. It didn't seem to be happening. After 5 weeks - nothing. But after only a day or two at Natalya's house, out comes some English words - "home", "food", "bed", "car", "please", "thanks" etc.
Turns out that not only is Ilya blossoming under the sweet, nurturing care of Natalya, he is helping her with the "babies" and, in turn, learning their "baby vocabulary". Randy, Natalya's husband, said Ilya spends a lot of time talking to two year old girl. Undoubtedly she enjoys this attention, but it is also clear that Ilya is picking up English from her. I laugh to think how perfect this is for him! No pressure. No one to look askance, raise an eyebrow, scoff, etc. All of those things surely to be feared in a classroom of fourth graders, even nice ones.
So, though at first "the Hat" seemed to bode no good, now I recognize that I just need to relax and "put a hat" on my expectations. Of course Ilya will learn English - just in his own time. And his hair will grow back, too.