Sunday, June 7, 2009

Leif Rowing - England - June 1980 - Age 5

In June 1980 we took a trip from Germany to England, where we visited London, Canterbury, Oxford, Stonehenge, Bath and several other places, stayed in bed-and-breakfast homes and in the Gate House at Greenham Common air base. It was a great trip, including the trip across the English Channel on a hovercraft. We took our car with us and could drive everywhere.

I think this photo was taken in Oxford. It is typical Leif. We rented a rowboat and Peter W. was rowing. Of course both boys insisted they wanted to try it. Leif was only five years old and could hardly hang onto both oars so he settled for one, but he was determined to make that boat move.

One of the last places we went in England was Dartmouth, where we took a trip on a riverboat down the Dart river. While we were standing in line to board the boat, Peter W. decided he was going to walk off somewhere and get us ice cream cones. There I was with the two boys when Leif suddenly decided to take off running, my five-year-old running off in a strange city in a foreign country (something he was to do more than once)! I hollered at him to come back and he paid absolutely no attention. He was rapidly getting away and I finally had to go after him.

Back in Germany some time before this, Leif had been misbehaving one day while I was cooking and had a wooden spoon in my hand. Although I was not one to use physical punishment with my boys, I threatened to "get him" with the wooden spoon. To my utter surprise, he had stopped misbehaving immediately, and the spoon had become a useful tool. All I had to do was brandish it to get him to pay attention and behave, so when we left for England and were going to be going on to visit family in the USA before moving all the way to Japan, I put that spoon into my purse. Which was where it was at that moment in Dartmouth.

I started running down the street after Leif, still yelling at him to stop, but he wouldn't and I was having a hard time catching up. Without ever thinking how this was going to look to the surprised people of Dartmouth, I whipped that wooden spoon out of my purse and brandished it. Leif was near a bench and he immediately stopped and sat down. When I got to him, I gave him a pat on the fanny and the spoon, the shaft of which had split in my purse. It flew apart in two pieces, making it look like I had wallopped him. He wasn't hurt in the least and didn't cry, but went peacefully with me back to the boat line, but by that time, I was feeling thoroughly embarrassed and wondering what the people who witnessed that had thought.

That was the end of the wooden spoon, though. Not only was it broken and discarded, but it's effectiveness was gone. Leif knew at that point that it wasn't ever going to do him any harm and never would have.

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