Sunday, January 18, 2009
Leif's 7th Birthday - Sagamihara, Japan - January 28, 1982 - Age 7
Here's Leif blowing out the candles on his seventh birthday cake in the middle of our tour in Japan. It was a good time for us, one of the best times in our family life. The boys had good friends and good activities. We got to see a lot of Japan and Japanese culture.
And yet, on base, it was like living in a little 1950s town with Little League baseball and soccer games, programs at the schools, community theater, and our American celebrations like Christmas and Halloween, and birthday parties, right alongside Japanese festivals like the Obon in August.
I'm still amazed and rather amused when I see the birthday cakes. They really do look SO homemade . . . but they tasted great! And the boys always looked forward to them and of course, to the presents. The presents in Japan were the BEST, because of all the cool Japanese toys.
I should have had enough sense to take photos of all of those toys at the time, and failing that, before I gave all of them to Peter A. for Marcus. The were special, mind-stretching, wonderful imagination-building toys, and we were there are the perfet age for the boys to appreciate them. They played an instrumental role in the personalities of both boys, along with Star Wars and Star Trek, in making them devotees of science fiction and futuristic ideas.
This school year, in which Leif turned seven, he was in first grade at Sagamihara Elementary School, where he was not only the tallest child in his class, but taller than his petite teacher. She said he was a "straight arrow" and never gave her any trouble or bullied the other (smaller) kids.
He did, however, attack his brother and a bicycle. In December 1981 I got a job as the public affairs officer of the Japan Engineer District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Initially it was a part time job, so that year, I was usually home when Leif and Peter A. were home. One afternoon, Peter A. had taunted Leif one too many times. I no longer remember just what he had done, but one of this favorite ploys that drove Leif nuts was to just point at him and keep pointing. I think this time it must have been something "worse" because Leif had a chain with a bicycle lock on it and chased Peter out the door and all the way out to the street swinging it. I don't know whether he would really have hit him with it if he had caught up with him, but if he had, he could have done some serious damage. I HOPE he was just threatening him.
I think it was that same year that he got really angry at another boy who lived near us and rather than attack him, he beat on Chad's bicycle with a broom. He really attacked it savagely. At least it was the bike and not Chad he was beating on. We couldn't see any damage to the bike but his family claimed Leif had damaged it. Somehow, it seems comical now to think of a seven-year-old attacking a bicycle with a broom, but at the time, he certainly was serious about it.
None of that mattered on his birthday. He was exuberant and full of fun.
Happy Birthday, Leif.