Sunday, October 29, 2017
Lucas’s First Summer Vacation part 2
An hour or so later the little boy woke and felt himself moving and jerked awake, a bit startled in a somewhat unfamiliar place. "Mama! Papa!" he cried loudly, not seeing them around.
Zhara immediately got up from the chair where she'd been sitting and reading and sat down beside Lucas. "It's all right, sweetheart, we're here," she assured him, gently brushing his thick hair from his forehead with her fingers. "How do you feel, honey?" she smiled down at him.
"Good afternoon, your highness," Omari joked from behind the steering wheel.
Lucas looked at her in confusion. "Afternoon? What happened? I'm hungry Mama...where are we?" he asked concern evident in his little face as well as disorientation.
"Papa's just joking with you, baby," his mama said, giving him a hug and kiss while shooting Omari a sideways look. "It's only just after 9 in the morning. We're on our way to Vermont, sweetie, and we're just about to stop for breakfast, so your timing is perfect." She smiled. "Do you want to go and wash your face and hands, maybe wake up a little more and change before we go in to eat?"
The little boy grinned and nodded. "Yeah Mama. I wanna eat a whole lot!"
"You know, I'm hungry too," Omari admitted as though he'd only just thought of it. "First one to wash up gets an extra treat."
Zhara laughed as her little boy threw off the blanket and ran into the motor home's bathroom.
"And just what sort of treat do you think we're going to give him at breakfast?" she asked with a grin.
Omari lowered his voice and whispered, "Cookies. I'm dying for chocolate chip cookies."
Zhara shook her head but couldn't help but to smile. "You're as bad as the kids," she chided gently.
"You know it!" Omari grinned as he pulled into a space set aside for motor homes.
Lucas grinned as he washed up knowing he was first because his Papa was driving and his Mama was still standing outside the bathroom door.
Zhara picked out a pair of short-alls, a tee shirt, socks and underwear for her son and put them by the door. "Your clothes are just outside the door, honey," she announced as she returned to the front to sit in the passenger's seat. The smell of the food made her mouth water. "I'm with Lucas, I can eat a whole lot today." She smiled.
Omari agreed with her and they waited for Lucas to be ready. Once the child presented himself, clean and dressed, Omari gave his son a chocolate chip cookie. “Here’s your treat for being ready first,” he said with a smile.
The youngster took the treat with a grin and munched on it while the man snitched one for himself then the little family headed toward the restaurant.
Lucas grinned, swallowing the last of his cookie as he walked with his parents to the restaurant and asked, "Will we gotta wait or kin we git in right away?"
"Let's see," Omari grinned, having finished off his own cookie and picking his boy up swung him around once before settling him back on his feet. He loved to hear his child's laughter.
The little boy let out a bunch of giggles as his papa swung him around and ran up to the entrance once he was set down.
When they entered the restaurant a pretty young woman in a red and white checked apron greeted them at the door. "Good morning! Three?"
Luc looked up at the lady and nodded. "Yeah, we got three of us."
The waitress, whose badge had the name Nancy on it, looked down at the little boy and smiled kindly. "Aren't you the sweetest little man! What's your name, honey?"
The youngster looked up and said, "Lucas, sweetie." He then threw her a kiss. "Ya're nice."
The woman grinned broadly and touched a hand to her chest. "Oh Lucas, you made my day, honey-pie! You have the most adorable little boy," she said, looking up at his parents. "Please, follow me. I'll get you the best table in the house."
Lucas giggled and followed his parents.
Nancy showed the Okoros to a corner table. The seat was shaped like the letter U. "If you're anything like my little Monkey Boy, you'll love this table. He likes to use the seat as a slide." She grinned.
The child did just that as they were shown to the table.
Nancy, if it were possible, smiled even more widely, enjoying watching the little guy have fun. She placed the menus on the table and turned toward the adults. "I'll give you some time to see what you'd like, in the meantime, can I get you all something to drink?"
Zhara and Omari both asked for coffee. "And you, love?" she asked Lucas.
The child replied, "Milk fer me."
"Let me guess... chocolate milk? Extra chocolate?"
"Yeah, chocolate milk is good." Lucas smiled.
"All right folks, I'll be back soon with your drinks. Take your time. I can guarantee you, it's all good," Nancy said. With a wink at the little boy she went to fill their drink orders.
Zhara flipped through the pages, her mouthwatering with every picture. "Waffles. With strawberries. And whipped cream," she finally said.
Omari's eyebrows rose as he looked at his wife. She was normally such a picky eater, and whipped cream was not something she had very often, especially for breakfast.
She grinned at her husband and said, "Hey, it's our vacation," by way of explanation.
Omari grinned and looked at his own menu, finally deciding on the largest breakfast there.
"Lucas, need a hand with the menu hon?" Zhara asked.
The youngster said, "Look, Papa...really little pancakes!" The menu read ‘Silver Dollar Pancakes with one sausage link or one strip of bacon.’
Omari smiled, leaned toward his son and said in a conspiratorial tone, "Sounds good, and I'll bet you if you flash that smile of yours, you'll get sausage and bacon if you want it."
Zhara playfully smacked her husband on the arm. "Omar! What are you teaching that child?!"
"Kid's got natural charisma, I'm just... encouraging it," the big man grinned.
"You just get what you think you'll be able to eat," Zhara said as she looked between her two men.
Lucas grinned at Omari. "Ya really think so, Papa?"
Omari pretended he didn't see the look of mock irritation his wife gave him and winked solemnly at his son.
Nancy arrived just moments later with the drinks and her order pad in hand. "Have you all decided what you'd like or do you need more time?" She smiled.
Omari looked at Zhara who nodded, and he ordered for the three of them. When it came to Lucas's order Nancy asked, "Do you want bacon or sausage, hon? Oh, never mind, it won't hurt if you get one of each, will it?" she asked, smiling at his parents.
"Will that be all for now, folks?" she asked.
"I think we're all set for the time being, thank you, Nancy," Zhara replied with a smile.
Omari looked at Lucas and raised an eyebrow. One corner of his mouth turned up in a grin. "You got it for sure, kiddo," he said as soon as the waitress was out of earshot.
The child grinned back at his papa. "Yeah, I got it, Papa!"
The little boy's parents both leaned in and gave their son a kiss on each cheek, then each other a quick peck on the lips. They had no problem showing affection in public. They smiled into each other's eyes and both of them suddenly wished they weren't in public at the moment. With a laugh, they turned their attention to their drinks but not without one last sidelong glance at the other.
Once back on the road, with Lucas holding a toy that Nancy had given them as they left, Omari stretched and grinned, wrapping an arm around his wife.
"Ok, what do you want?" she asked with a knowing grin.
"Welllll, I did quite a bit of driving...," he hinted.
"Alright then, you two have some fun and I'll drive for a bit," she offered.
"You are the best!" Omari said, kissing his wife soundly on the cheek as he pulled over so they could switch places.
"I know," she replied flippantly as she got behind the wheel.
"C'mon there, Lucas. What would you like to do now? Read another book together? Watch a movie?" his father asked him as they hopped in and began to walk to the back of the motor home.
"When will it be my turn ta drive, Papa? You said I could," he asked.
Omari thought about it for a few minutes, "Technically, in another ten years," he replied, "however," he continued as he saw his little boy's expression fall, "if we can find a nice open, empty parking lot..."
"Omari, no!" Zhara said, nearly taking her eyes off the road.
"I used to do it with Coral and the others," Omari reasoned.
"Please can I drive?" Lucas said plaintively.
Zhara shook her head and continued driving, looking for the required empty parking lot. She grinned, remembering her husband with the kids, and how thrilled they'd been. She couldn't deny that same experience to her youngest. She knew that Omar would actually be the one controlling the steering and all, but she knew her little one would love the experience.
Several miles down the road she found a large open area that looked as though teenagers used it frequently and she pulled in there. "Alright you two delinquents, five minutes, before the police find us."
Omari hopped into the driver's seat, pushed it back a little to make room for Lucas and pulled his son onto his lap. "Alright Mario Andretti, let's have a go." He grinned.
Lucas's eyes widened at the mention of the police and he shrank into himself. "They ain't gonna take me away are they?" he asked fearfully, remembering when they had taken him away when he had tried to pick Uncle Mutt's pocket and he had ended up in Juvenile Detention until the Okoros and their friends had come for him.
Zhara was immediately sorry for what she'd said. "No honey, no one is going to take you away," she reassured him with a hug.
"We don't have to do this right now, Lucas," Omari said understandingly. "We can do it another time."
"I wanna do it," the little boy said nervously, "but I don' want ta be taken away is all. But Mama said it ain't gonna happen so we kin do it now," he told Omari, showing his trust in his mama.
"We'll go slowly, alright? This way no one will take much notice of us. And like Mama said, only for a few minutes, ok Luc?" Omari said, hugging his boy.
The child nodded his head vigorously. "Yeah Papa, then I kin tell everyone I drove our motor home!" He grinned.
"Ahhh," Omari hedged, "I'd be careful who I told, alright?" He laughed. "Let's have a go then." With that he buckled the two of them in and gently worked the gas and brakes while Lucas turned the steering wheel.
Zhara smiled at the sight of her husband and youngest son carrying on an old Okoro tradition. Lucas was very careful about how he turned the wheel and the smile on his face was priceless. She took a couple of pictures with her cell to add to her son’s memory album when they got back home.
After about ten minutes Omari said it was time to stop. "But don't worry, hon, we'll do it again when we can," he promised.
Lucas turned and hugged Omari tight. "It was fun, Papa!"
"And you did a great job, sweetheart." Zhara praised. "Now, how about you and Papa have some story time while I take over the wheel again?"
Omari hugged his little boy back just as tightly. "Mama's right, you did a wonderful job."
With that, the man unbuckled the two of them and led his little one into the back where they could take turns reading from a book called Streganona, which they chose because Lucas liked the picture on the cover.
Zhara smiled at the sight of them and, buckling herself in, carefully drove back into traffic to continue their journey.
The little boy snuggled with his Papa to read.
It wasn't long before Zhara realized that the only sound she could hear was the radio playing softly. She briefly looked in the inside rear-view mirror and couldn't help but to smile at the sight of her two men, sound asleep, the book propped up on her husband's stomach and Lucas using him as a pillow. She gently pulled over to a safe spot, quickly took a picture of the two of them, and continued on her way feeling very light hearted. This was going to be a wonderful vacation.
After the family had arrived at the campgrounds and gotten settled in, Omari and Zhara brought Lucas to the lake for his first ever swimming lesson. Omari waded into the water about knee deep and grinned at his youngest son, "Come on, sweetheart! It's shallow. All you have to do first is come to me," the man held his arms wide and invited Lucas to join him.
Zhara had just finished putting a layer of sunscreen on the boy and rubbed it in until she was sure it was dry. She really wanted him to wear a tee shirt and hat but Omari had objected. "As long as we keep an eye on him, he won't get burned, Zhar." He'd smiled down at her. His wife had reluctantly agreed and looked at the two with affection.
Lucas took a tentative step into the water. "It's cold Papa!" he exclaimed, sticking a toe in and then out again.
"Best way to do it is to just run in, honey. We'll warm up once we start swimming."
Zhara knelt down by her son and smiled, "I know it sounds crazy but it does work, and Papa and I will both be there for you. Are you ready hon?"
The little boy looked at Omari with a dubious expression, but taking a deep breath and holding it, ran into the water and up to his father. "Ooooh!" he cried, but went into the man's arms.
Omari caught him with a laugh, swung him around and dipped him partially into the water before lifting him above his head. "Ready to get wet?" Omari teased.
"No, but yar gonna make me anyway," the child laughed.
"You got that right little boy," Omari grinned up at his boy. He tossed the child slightly, caught him so that he was braced in both arms and dunked him into the cold water up to his shoulders. By that time Zhara had caught up to them and took Lucas from his father's grasp so that he could dunk himself completely. He came back up with a laugh and a splash.
Zhara flawlessly passed their little one to her husband and dove in gracefully. Omari's eyes were glued to his wife until his little one spoke.
"Papa...Mama's a fish!"
"Mmmmmm," was all Omari could manage to say as he watched his wife make her way back to them.
Zhara jumped up from the water, splashing the two of them and laughing. "Come on, Lucas! Ready to learn to swim?" she asked happily, looking over her shoulder at Omari in a way that Lucas found a little confusing.
"Umm...guess so Mama, but ya look like a fish," he told her.
"And we'll all be swimming like fishes before we leave here, my little goldfish," Zhara teased.
Omari lifted his son and dunked him to his shoulders again and said, "Ok, little man, Mama and I are going to teach you the basics. I'll bet by the end of the day you'll be swimming all by yourself." He grinned.
"But not without one of us with you!" Zhara reminded her son.
"Ya think so, Papa?" the little boy asked, still not quite believing it.
"I think so! So, let’s get started." At that, Omari and Zhara began to teach him step by step, how to float, then swim. By lunch time Lucas was able to swim confidently between his mother and father.
"I don't know about you two, but I'm starving!" Zhara finally said. "Lucas, why don't you go to the play area while Papa and I set up for lunch?"
"'Kay Mama." He headed toward the playground clad in his swim suit and small flip flops.
When the two adults finally reached their picnic table nearest the playground which they'd claimed earlier in the day, Omari wrapped an arm around his wife and pulled her in for a deep kiss. "I've been wanting to do that since I saw you jump in the water," he growled.
"Only since then?" Zhara replied, pretending to be offended before kissing her husband back and checking on Lucas again before they began to get lunch ready.
Lucas ran up to the slide and slid down grinning as his wet suit made him stick a bit.
One little boy who had been watching them in the water tentatively walked up to Lucas and with a shy smile said, “Hello, my name is Terry. Actually," he said, wrinkling his nose, "it's Terrance... but no one calls me that less I'm in trouble. What's your name?"
Before Luc had a chance to answer, another boy trotted up and 'accidentally' knocked against Terry. "I'm Gordy," he announced, ignoring the other boy's look of irritation.
"Yer a real charmer, like always, Gourd!" Terry said with a scowl.
"Terrancid!" replied the other child with a matching scowl. Then with a smile he turned back toward the new boy. "Sorry, didn't get'cher name. Mosquitoes or something."
"Lucas, but everyone seems to call me Luc," he told the other boy, a look of confusion on his face.
"Like Jean Luc Picard, Captain of the Enterprise? That's a cool name," Terry said with a wide grin.
Lucas grinned. "Uh huh." He smiled. "Hi Gordy."
"Don't pay any attention to the gnat here, he's just my brother," Terry said dismissively.
Gordy rolled his eyes at his older brother.
Before things could escalate, yet another boy ran up to the group with a smile on his face and what seemed to be a quarter of a watermelon in his hands," Hey guys! Hi kid! I'm Brad! My folks are cutting the watermelon now and they wanna know if y'all want some?"
"We ain't even had lunch yet," Terry complained mildly. " I'll ask, but I'm pretty sure my mom'll say ‘no, it’s going to ruin your appetite!' he mimicked in a high voice.
"So, what's your name?" Brad asked after chewing and swallowing a huge bite of the fruit, unmindful of the juice running down his face and chest.
"My name is Lucas, but folks call me Luc. Glad ta meet ya Brad."
Lucas smiled at the other boy, "I ain't had no lunch either, maybe we can have some later?"
"Sure, I think we must'a brought a whole crop of 'em with us. Nice ta meet ya Lucas!" Brad joked as he took another huge bite. The boy initially held out a hand to high five but then self-consciously pulled it back. "We might get stuck together," he joked.
Luc grinned. "Yeah, wouldn't wanna get stuck tagether."
Looking slightly embarrassed, Terry said, "Hey, Luc... can I ask ya a question?" He glanced at his friends for support but they looked as uncomfortable as he felt.
Luc nodded. "Sure."
Terry opened his mouth a couple of times but nothing came out. Brad finally took a breath, glanced at something behind Lucas and asked, "We were wondering... who are those folks you're with? I mean... you know... we... we were just wondering," he ended lamely.
Lucas wrinkled his brow and Gordy blurted out, "Them black people."
The youngster frowned. "Them's my Mama and Papa...they's the only ones that cared 'bout me and they love me and I love 'em and... well, they 'dopted me," he said a note of pride in his voice.
Gordy's face turned a bit red and he said, "Oh."
Terry looked thoughtful, "That's kinda cool," he said softly.
Lucas grinned. "Yeah it's real cool."
Brad, still looking a little uncomfortable asked, "Doesn't it... well... I dunno... make you feel kinda... jeez… Luc I'm sorry but don't it make you feel kind'a weird?"
"Like how?" Lucas asked, not understanding.
"Well," the boy replied, his ears turning red with embarrassment, "you know... they're... ummm... and... well."
The youngster shrugged. "Papa calls our family the Mini United Nations. My older 'dopted brother just got married ta a white guy, Ry and they're gay, and my 'dopted sisters are married ta other guys from other countries." He shrugged.
Terry thought about that and finally chuckled, "The Mini United Nations," he repeated, "now that's cool!"
Brad finally smiled as well. "Yeah, it really is. Sounds like a lot of fun."
Lucas grinned. "It is and they all love each other lots and me too."
"You're a lucky kid," Terry smiled. "My family ain't so bad..." he lowered his voice and said in a mock whisper, "if it weren't for Gordy it'd be golden." He laughed, shouldering his brother to let him know he was kidding.
The younger boy frowned. "It weren't fer ya then I'd have everythin' fer myself and wouldn't have ta share."
Terry sighed and shook his head. His brother would never let that particular argument go, so he ignored the comment and was just about to ask another question when Omari called Lucas to lunch. "Are your friends hungry?" he asked as he approached them with a smile. "You're all welcome to join us if you like. You can ask your parents to come as well," he said to the boys.
Lucas smiled at his papa. "I'm ready Papa." He looked at his new friends. "Ya wanna ask yar folks?"
Brad grinned. "Thanks! Just gimme a minute, ok?" he asked excitedly as he turned to run back to his parents.
"I'll ask Mom and Dad too," Terry said with a smile. "Thanks for the invitation Mr... um..."
"Okoro," the man said as he smiled down at the youngsters. "I'll be looking forward to seeing you all and getting to know you."
"Ok, Mr. Okoro! Thanks," Terry grinned, "I'll ask." Then he too ran to his folks.
Sean Murphy saw his little boy heading toward him and his wife at a run. "Looks like Brad has something that he's excited about," he commented to his wife. Smiling down at his son he asked, "What's going on, son?"
"Um... well..." the boy said smiling shyly at his parents, "we all met this new kid and his dad asked if we all wanted to go an' have lunch with 'em?"
"Well," his mother, Erin, said uncertainly, "we didn't put the food on the grill yet but... well, we really don't know these people. I think I'd feel a little strange," she admitted.
"It'll be ok, Mom! We can bring what we got and add it to what they got and it'd be a great big picnic. Please? Terry's gonna ask his folks too," he pleaded.
Sean said, "Well, perhaps we can all get together another time and get to know each other a little better."
Brad's expression went from hopeful to downcast in seconds. "Please?" he tried one more time.
Sean seeing his little boy's expression looked thoughtful. "Well, all right if it's okay with your mom."
His mother chewed on the corner of her lip as she often did while thinking. Finally, she sighed as she made the final decision. "Sure honey," she smiled, "let's get as much packed up as we can. They shouldn't have to feed everyone, right?"
"Right! Thanks Mom!" Brad exclaimed as he began to help his father fire down their own grill and gather up some food, including three large watermelons.
Terry had met with much the same response from his parents, but he finally won them around as well. They already knew the Murphy's and they loved to make new friends.
"All right!" Gordy said, pumping his fist into the air. "You're really gonna like Luc, and his parents seem real nice," he said.
Credits from the book mentioned in part 1:
Chicka Chick Boom Boom:
Authors Bill Martin, Jr., John Archambault
Illustrator Lois Ehlert
Subject The alphabet
Publisher Simon & Schuster
Publication date 1989
No Copyright Infringement Intended.
Story mentioned in this chapter:
Author Tomie dePaola
Original title Strega Nonna
Illustrator Tomie dePaola
As always, no copyright infringement is intended.