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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Lucas’s First Summer Vacation part 1

Written by Snarks, Rosemarie and help from PJ

Warning for mild discipline of a minor

It was the last day of lessons, and Lucas was excited to be leaving on a trip with his mama and papa in just a couple of days, although he hadn't been too thrilled at the book list that Mr. K had given him for summer reading.

"You're going to love these books, Lucas," Mr. K said with a smile, "and the more you read, the better you'll get at it. You'll learn new words, and whole new worlds will open up for you."

Lucas frowned. "I don' wanna do schoolwork. It's s'posed to be my summer vacation! That s'posed ta mean no schoolwork!"

"Don't think of it as schoolwork," Mr. K smiled knowingly.  "Think of it as a way to relax after a long day, a way to stimulate your brain when you're bored. Or if you like, you can think of it as a challenge from me to you, man to man, except instead of using swords we'll use books," he laughed. "I'll read the same books over the summer, and then we can have a duel of sorts, who can ask the hardest questions and who can answer the most correctly." 

"All I need you to do is take a half hour per day and read as much as you can. Perhaps take a few notes if you want to so that you'll have your questions ready for me." 

Lucas continued to frown and crossed his arms and said stubbornly, "No! It's still schoolwork and I ain't gonna do it!"

"Well," Mr. K said thoughtfully, "you're right of course, I can't make you do it, but you'll be missing out on a lot of wonderful things."

The youngster replied, "No I won't... summer vacation is s'posed ta be fun!"

It was at that point that Omari, who had overheard the conversation, walked into the kitchen where his youngest son and the teacher normally held lessons. "Maybe Mr. K can't make you," he said quietly, "but I can assure you that reading or not, you'll be sitting at least a half hour a day, doing nothing, and for each half hour you sit doing nothing you lose another half hour of fun activities, like hiking or swimming, or watching a DVD." 

Mr. K felt bad for the little boy and his father's ultimatum. "Lucas," he said gently, "these are all really fun books to read. I have a feeling that once you start you're not going to want to stop."

Omari looked patiently at his little one for an answer.

When the youngster refused to respond Mr. K smiled and thought of a good lure for the boy to want to read.  He took a book from his case and showed it to the child. "Here's one we can read together." He opened the book and said, “This is called Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. We'll take turns reading."

Lucas got a dark look on his face, shoved the book away then jumped up and shouted, "No! No! No! It ain't fair! Dammit! I done tol' ya I ain't doin' any damn schoolwork on my summer vacation!" 

Omari's eyes widened a bit in surprise. Granted the youngster had basically grown up on the streets with unsavory, to say the least, people as role models, but he couldn't let his son's behavior continue.  He smiled at Mr. K and calmly asked the tutor, "Well, I think you've done all you can for the day, what do you think?" 

Putting the list on the table, Mr. K stood with a parting smile for the little boy. "I'll see you in September, Lucas. I know you're excited to leave on your trip.  Please," he smiled at Omari, "tell Zhara I said hello, would you?"

Omari smiled and assured the other man that he'd pass the message along.  With that, the teacher then packed up his papers and pens. With one last smile and wave at the still scowling child and his father, he showed himself to the door.

The tall man noticed that the book still laid on the table and was about to pick it up and run after the tutor, until he realized that the man left it on purpose. Ignoring it for the time being, he turned toward his youngest and took a deep breath. He sat down on the chair that Mr. K had recently vacated and pinned his son with a look.

"Would you like to explain that awful behavior and atrocious language?"

The youngster continued to scowl. "I didn't want anyone tellin' me I had to do schoolwork!"

"Lucas," Omari said gently, "reading is a lot of fun. You've seen Mama and I do it plenty of times to know it's not considered work.  Not to forget that one of us reads to you every night. The children in every school I've ever attended or heard of are assigned reading lists, so it's not just you. Some are even given math workbooks so that they're not caught unprepared for the next grade. I could understand if Mr. K had actually given you an entire curriculum to work on for the summer, but all he asked you to do was read, which I don't think is unreasonable. What I don't like, however, is the tantrum and the foul language. We don't cuss here. Ever. We find mature ways to make our point. That's another lesson you're going to learn by the end of the summer. I'll expect you to apologize to Mr. K the next time you see him." 

The child lost the scowl and then looked down. Tears had come but he blinked them back. He was tough and could take whatever was going to be dished out to him.

Seeing the tears and the little boy's efforts to stem them, Omari became concerned. He hadn't raised his voice at all and couldn't figure out why his son would be upset.  "Talk to me, Lucas. What are you thinking? Why are you crying?" 

The little boy blinked back the tears and raised his little chin. "Nothin'," he said. "Yar gonna do what ya gonna do anyway, cryin' ain't gonna change nothin'."

"What do you think I'm going to do?" the boy's father asked gently as he pulled his son to sit on his lap. He put his arms around the youngster and began to rock slightly. The fact that his little one had reverted to his 'street speech' concerned him. 

"Yar gonna make me do the readin' stuff or I can't do nothin' else," he said with a bit of heat.

With a sigh, Omari pulled the boy in closer until his head rested on his chest.  "Yes, I am going to insist that you either read or spend that half hour thinking about what you could have been doing instead… Mr. K doesn't ask a lot of you, but you've proven yourself up to the challenge, have exceeded in fact in many of the subjects you and he have worked on.  A little extra work will not only help improve your reading skills but to exceed them as well."

Lucas sighed and frowned. "That's what I mean. I gotta do it ifn I wanna or not. Ifn I don' read I don' get ta do nothin' else. It ain't fair ta force me ta do somethin' I don' wanna do!" He snuggled close to Omari despite himself, liking the closeness he hadn't experienced since he lived with his biological parents. 

"I'm not saying you can't do anything. We'll still have fun, Lucas, but that half hour will be set aside every day. What you choose to do with it is up to you," the elder Okoro said as he rubbed the child's back.

"It ain't fair," the youngster protested.

"Call it encouragement... a little shove in the right direction. I can see where it doesn't seem fair to you, so we'll make a deal," the man said, taking in the boy's petulant expression. He'd never believed in rewarding bad behavior, or of using bribery to make them do things they were supposed to do without being asked. He considered the older children and decided that he and Zhara hadn't done such a bad job of raising them... but, he had to admit to himself, Lucas hadn't spent the first six years of his life in the Okoro family, nor had he had anyone to actually love or care about him. More often than not, the boy was just a means for the 'foster parents' to get more money.  Granted, he thought, there were more good people out there than bad, but it seemed as though his son had somehow missed all of the good ones.

Lucas looked up and asked, "So what's the deal, Papa?"

"The deal is, you take the half hour to read, even to write down any questions you might have, and I'll add a half hour to your day to make up for lost time. Sound good?"

The youngster thought about it and then nodded. "That's fair, but I want that time to be with ya, Papa, just us two guys."

"Well," the older man grinned, "I think we can arrange that somehow. We'll pick an activity each day, give Mama some quiet time, and the two of us will disappear somewhere."

Lucas gave Omari his first grin since he had heard about the reading list and nodded vigorously. "Yeah, that's real good, Papa!"

Omari hugged the boy to him and kissed the top of his head.  "Lucas," he said, his tone more serious as he put his hands on the child's shoulders so that he could get a better look at him, “you, Mama and I are going to have a great time on vacation, however, your behavior and language from earlier can't go unnoticed. That tantrum, that foul language..."

He looked at his youngest to see if the child understood what he was implying.

The youngster bit his lip at the stern tone. "I was mad," he told his papa. 

"And I understand that, honey, but no matter how angry you get, you should always think before you speak, or act out. Mr. K only has that last image of you to remember you by until September, and as I said, tantrums and bad language... they're just not acceptable. Do you understand?"

The little boy sighed. "Sorry Papa... I'll try harder."

"Lucas, one of the least favorite things about being a parent is having to correct bad behavior. I'm going to have to punish you for what you did," he said gently.

The child took on a hardened look. "'Kay, do watcha gotta."

"What do you think I'm going to do, and the most important question here, I think, is do you understand why you deserve it," Omari asked, gesturing for the boy to sit on the chair next to him. 

"Yar gonna lick me. I deserve it 'cause I was bad and swore at Mr. K." 

Omari sighed, not sure if he was doing the right thing but knowing that he couldn't let his son get away with things he wouldn't let any of his other kids do.  Even his grandchildren had known the strength of his hand. He said quietly, “Lucas, I’m not going to give you a licking, but I am going to give you swats with my hand for your poor behavior.”    

The child looked up at his papa. He’d swatted his bottom just once that one time and it had stung, but hadn’t made him real sore like when he’d been licked with the hairbrush in one of his foster homes. He bit his lip, but nodded. “’Kay, Papa.” 

The man hugged his son and then, taking the boy by the arm, he pulled him gently over his lap. The little boy gave a little yelp as he was pulled face down over his papa's knee and his hands flew back to cover his bottom, knowing what was coming would sting.  

When his son's little hands flew back, Omari gently moved and held them, patted his bottom to let him know he was about to begin then raised his hand.  "This," he said, giving the boy a mid strength spank, "is for the tantrum." 

Continuing the correction, he told his son, “This," with another swat, "is for the bad words, and this," he repeated, delivering another but stronger smack, "is for the disrespect you showed Mr. K."

Feeling that his message had been delivered adequately, he put his son's feet back on the ground and held him by the shoulders so that their eyes could meet.

Lucas had begun to cry, but held back his tears, standing by his father. 

Omari pulled the boy into a reassuring hug, rocking him slightly and whispering forgiveness in his ear. "It's all over and done with now, sweetheart.  It's a new day, a fresh start, and we can look forward to our vacation.  Alright, honey?"

The little boy nodded and then pulled away and ran to his room and closed the door a bit hard, not quite a slam. When he was in his room he flung himself onto his bunk and began to cry in earnest.

Omari took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He walked over to the kitchen sink, dampened a clean dish cloth with cool water and followed his child into his room.    

The little boy cried hard and when he heard someone enter the room he knew it was his papa by the scent of him. He hugged his pillow.

"Lucas, come to me honey," Omari said gently.

When the child didn’t respond, the older man went over and sat gently on the side of his son's bed and began to rub the youngster’s back. "Talk to me, honey," he requested once again.

Lucas worked at getting is crying under control and glanced up at Omari. "Those swats hurt, Papa," he sniffled.

"As much as I dislike that particular delivery system," Omari replied, "I've found it to be the most effective. If those few swats help you to avoid a repeat of the bad behavior, then it's worth it." He reached out and pulled his little boy toward him, settling him on his hip against him, and hugging him tightly. 

Lucas's little arms went around Omari and he pressed his face into him and snuggled close. "'Kay Papa," he said softly.

"That's my sweetheart," the older man praised with a smile.  After placing the cool cloth on his son's face, cuddling for several minutes and one final bear hug, Omari said, "Now, Mama should be home any minute from doing some last-minute shopping. Let's you and I get the luggage into the motor home, hmmm?" 

"Yeah... we gotta get things ready for us ta go right? When will we leave and how long will it take to get there, Papa and are ya gonna get all them books Mr. K said I gotta read?"

"We'll leave early tomorrow morning, probably before you’re awake, it will take quite a while to get there, but we’ll make stops along the way to rest and, yes, we’ll hit the book store today."  The man smiled, glad that that particular issue seemed to have been solved, at least for the moment.

The two brought the luggage out to the motor home and Omari, seeing that Lucas was still a little upset, sat down on the couch, pulled the little boy back onto his lap and just held him while the two talked quietly of everything and nothing.

Zhara called several minutes later to tell her men that she would be home soon and that she needed help with the groceries. She let her husband know she had picked up a couple of new coolers since not everything would fit into the home's refrigerator.

Soon she pulled up into the driveway and honked the horn playfully.

Lucas said to Omari when he heard the horn, "Guess we gotta stop cuddlin' and go help Mama."

"After we help clean up from lunch we'll cuddle as much as you want," Omari promised.  "We can even put in a movie while you sit on my lap. Deal?" he smiled. "And don't forget, we have some shopping of our own to do," he said as he stood up to go help his wife.

Luc grinned and said, "Deal." He followed Omari outside to help Zhara.

The woman smiled widely at the sight of her two men. She pulled them into a hug and gave each a kiss on the cheek. "Thanks for helping," she said.  "It was hard enough pushing two shopping carts, I couldn't imagine trying to put all of this away by myself."

"I like helpin', Mama," the youngest Okoro son said.

"And you are a great helper," she smiled down at her little boy. The offloading of the car went without a hitch. Everything that needed to be refrigerated had been put in the motor home or in the coolers packed with ice. She took a deep breath and let it out with a sigh. She looked at her watch. "Looks like lunch is going to be a little late, this took longer than I expected."

Omari leaned down and whispered into Lucas's ear, "How about we take Mama out for lunch?  Get your things, and then we can watch the movie when we get home."

The child grinned and nodded.  "Yeah," he whispered back.

Lucas gave Omari a worried look. "Ya gonna tell Mama 'bout Mr. K and that ya had ta swat me?" 

"Is there any reason I should? Remember honey, over and done with."

The youngster shook his head. "Not unless ya think she should know." 

"Well, let's see what she says then.  Zhar," he began casually, "Mr K was over earlier and left Lucas a summer reading list.  I'm afraid he didn't react very well to that."

Zhara looked over at her two men and said, "I'm guessing it's been taken care of?"

"As far as I'm concerned, it's been, but Lucas wanted to know how you felt about it."

Zhara knelt and looked at her son with a serious expression. "So, Lucas, did you learn anything from what happened?"

The child nodded his head at his mama's words.

The woman shrugged casually, leaned in and kissed her little one. "Then this falls into the over and done category, doesn't it?" She smiled.

Lucas gave his mama a relieved little smile. "Yeah, guess it does, Mama." He gave her a hug.

"In the meantime, our son has offered to take us out for lunch, what do you say?" he asked his wife, giving his little boy a wink to let him know he was just kidding.

The child turned to his papa. "Yeah, let's take Mama to lunch."

Omari stooped down to pick his son up and give him a hug. "Zhara, my Love, where would you like to go? The sky's the limit," he asked, as he put his free arm around his wife's shoulders. 

Their child reached back to rub a little, but snuggled into Omari as he picked him up.

"Surprise me!" she grinned, knowing perfectly well where they would end up going. It was perhaps the best and oldest hot dog place in the city, and they all loved it.

"Ok, my little man! Let's get goin'!" the man smiled, giving Lucas a kiss on the cheek. "You're driving," he joked.

The youngster’s eyes lit up and he nodded vigorously.  "Yeah, I'm drivin', Papa!"

Zhara put her free arm around Lucas and they left the house laughing.

After they finished their lunch, Omari drove to the mini mall where the local Barns and Noble was. For himself, he couldn't get enough of the place and could spend hours there just browsing. Zhara went into the children's area with Lucas and they began to look around, trying to find not only books on the list but others that the little boy seemed to like the look of.

While they were in the store Lucas had spotted some puzzles and games. "Can we get any of these?" he asked.

Omari grinned down at his little one. "Of course, we can. See any that you like?"

Zhara picked up an art kit and held it out for their son to see. "What do you think of this, honey? You can draw all sorts of things."

Lucas looked at the art kit and nodded happily.  "Yeah, that's good." He picked up a 3 D puzzle that when completed created a Teddy Bear. "Kin ya help me make this, Papa?" he asked, then spotted some posters that had markers with them and indicated where to color to make them come alive. "I want some of these?"

"That puzzle looks like a lot of fun. Would you like to get a few of them? Pick different ones," he replied as he looked at the posters and grinned, he could remember buying the same things for his older kids once upon a time. "Those are great," he agreed, "as a matter of fact, I might pick out a few for myself."

"I get the butterflies and the hot air balloons!" Zhara announced with a smile.

"Look, Lucas!" Omari said as he sorted through some of the larger ones, "here's a dragon, like the one you and Uncle Mutt made."

The child's eyes lit up. "Yeah! I want that one!" He chose a couple more of them and two more puzzles as well that he liked.

The little boy looked up at his parents. "Kin we hang 'em inside the motor home when they're done?" 

Omari grinned, "I don't see why not."

"I can't think of anything I'd like better," Zhara said with a smile.

On their way out they picked up a variety pack of magic markers and some tacky glue, which was actually a putty rather than real glue, so that they would be able to bring the pictures into the house once they returned from their vacation. By the time they left they had three full bags. Most of the contents belonged to Lucas but there were several items for his parents as well. 

That night after the three of them had watched a movie, Omari said, "Well my darlings, we have to get up and out early tomorrow. What do you say we head to bed?"

Zhara grinned, "I'm already there! Good night my sweet boy," she said as she gave Lucas a kiss and a hug.

The youngster had been happy and content, snuggling with his parents when Omari announced bedtime for everyone. "Kin we read that book Mr. K left?" he asked.

The older man smiled widely, happy that his little one seemed eager to read. "We'll take turns reading each page. I remember reading this to Austin, and I think you'll enjoy it." He helped Lucas get ready for bed and the two of them leaned against the headboard as Omari began to read in a sing song tone, "A told B, and B told C, I'll meet you at the top of the coconut tree..."* 

The youngster listened and smiled as his papa read the book to him.

Omari praised his little one when he finished the last page of the book, "Good job, my man, now, snuggle down and let's get some sleep. Big day tomorrow."

As the child did as he had been told, Omari smiled down at him. "So, did you like the book, hon?"

The little boy smiled. "Yeah, it was kinda fun ta read, I like it bestest when we read 'em tagether."

"Me too, sweetheart," the man replied, leaning down to give his son a kiss on the forehead and fix the blanket around his shoulders. "Good night now. I'll see you in the morning."

"'Kay Papa." The youngster snuggled down into his bed and it wasn't long before sleep claimed him.

With a final smile and a wink, Omari turned out the light and went to his own bed. They were going to have to get up early and he didn't want to ask Zhara to drive the whole way.

Changing into sleep pants and a tee shirt, he quietly slid into bed beside his already sleeping wife, snuggled down beside her and quickly fell asleep. 

Early the next morning, just as the sun was rising, Omari and Zhara put the last of the luggage and coolers into the motor home. Not wanting to wake Lucas so early, he picked the boy up, carried him into the motor home and put him on the bed. With one final look back to be sure everything was alright, he started the engine and they were on their way. 


  1. Lucas pulls at the heart strings. The world is full of tough guys just longing to be loved, some big some little. Thanks for this and ‘Keens story. Sue

  2. Thank you for this newest Lucas story, his story is very heart warming to me and I am looking forward to the next chapter in his life.

  3. Dear Sue and dragonquest,

    Thank you so much for your comments. I'm happy that you like the stories, we have a lot of fun writing them and... in a way, becoming them as we write. Rosemarie really puts her heart and soul into Lucas so I know she'll be thrilled to hear that you're looking forward to more of his story.

    Thank you both, for your comments and for following the stories. More to come.