Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Our Trip – I12 Comes Of Age

I know. I’m so far behind on my trip stories, it isn’t even funny.

The Russian version has been up for a while now.

Now I’m going to try and tell you the same stories in English, starting with my firstborn.

I12 will categorically deny it, but I think he enjoyed the trip, and here’s why – because he had more freedom than a kid his age normally gets in an American suburb; and because everyone treated him like an adult. Unfortunately he didn’t speak any Russian, but, he managed.

I12 goes to Kyiv

On our second day in Ukraine, we all went to Mr. Goldie’s parents’ dacha. This is a Russian term meaning “a summer house”. In their case, it is basically a really small cabin in the middle of an (also small) vegetable garden. We had to walk there and it is about 40 minutes away. We spent a few hours there, and were walking back, when I12 got ahead of everybody and started getting farther and farther away from us. We all took turns yelling for him to slow down and let us catch up, but he just kept going in those great strides, and soon enough we lost sight of our I12. He was on his own, without any money or ID, in a strange town, in a place where he couldn’t speak the native language.

Strangely, no one was worried except myself. Even I kept holding out hope. We had told I12 the night before to look for the cathedral if he ever got lost. Maybe he would meet us by the cathedral. We keep walking, we get to the cathedral – no such luck. We go over to our apartment building – no signs of I12. We go up to the apartment – still no I12. By that time, it was getting dark and now all of us were worried to death, so the kids went into the apartment with my SIL, while the rest of the adults split and went on to search the town for I12.

Thirty minutes later, we met back at the apartment building. None of us had found him. Just as we were about to panic, who would walk around the corner but our beloved I12! Relieved, we took him up to the apartment and gave him dinner. After dinner, I felt it was time to question my son.

“Why did you walk off, I12? We were all worried! You could’ve got lost? What would you have done then, lost in a strange country with no language?”

“I had a plan.

I was going to walk to the airport in Kyiv.

I figured it would take me two weeks, so I’d get there just in time for our plane to leave, and meet you guys up there.”

“Walking to Kyiv, are you out of your mind? What were you going to eat, you have no money?”

“Grass, leaves.”

“What if a bad guy caught you? You know, a kid alone on the road at night.”

“I was going to sleep in the ditches, this way no one would see me.”

“But tell me, I12, how were you going to even
get to Kyiv if you don’t know the way?”

“Yes I do. When we rode here on the bus, I kept looking out the window for the entire six hours, and memorized the way.”

Having no more questions, I looked around for a hard alcoholic drink. I really needed one.

I12 and the inflatable rubber boat

One of the highlights of our trip was when we all (and by “we all” I mean the whole family – parents, brothers, their wives and kids) went to the lake. It is in fact a camping area, with cabins and water bikes and fishing piers and all the good stuff. To add to the fun, we brought an inflatable rubber boat with one oar (the other one was lost a long time ago).

One of the guys got into the boat with all the kids, and took them out a bit. The kids loved it, but, with six children in the boat, ranging from two and a half to twelve years, it just wasn’t safe to stay around for long, so the guy went back to the shore and let the kids out. All except my two.

I12 and K9 rowed around for a while, then K9 got out and paddled to the shore. I12, on the other hand, remained in the boat, and, oar in hand, headed out to the deep waters. We all sat on the shore watching. It was a good show and we weren’t going to miss it. Besides, we were on the lookout in case something happened to I12.

Our man, however, seemed to hold his own, even after, out in the deep waters, his boat caught into the wind, and started moving along the shore, away from us. I12 tried to row against the current, but no go. What would he do?

He got out of the boat, and tried to swim and push the boat towards the shore at the same time. By that time, we were all fascinated. Sure enough, it didn’t work. Did I12 abandon the boat? Did he cry for help?

If you said yes to any of these questions, you don’t know my son. He climbed back into the boat… on the fourth try. Once in, he picked up the oar and started rowing again.

At that point, my BIL swam to rescue I12 and the boat, and rowed them both to safety.

On the shore, I12 was greeted with cheers. You could tell everyone was impressed, although a little weak from too much laughing.

I12 saves the day

The night before we left, we went to have dinner at my MIL’s next door neighbors’ apartment. From where we were staying, it was a ten- or fifteen-minute walk. You had to cross a few streets, including the main street, with relatively heavy traffic. The kids mainly stayed at the MIL’s apartment, but my boys, at one point, came over next door, and were offered dinner. I12 was again treated like an adult, of which he was awfully proud.

Next day, K9 woke up to find his Gameboy missing. He quickly panicked, as we were getting ready to leave for home, and the Gameboy was nowhere to be found. There was a lot of whining and wailing and he had the whole family looking for the darn thing. The whole family, that was, except his brother.

While we were all looking, I12, unbeknownst to us, had a private conversation with K9, where he pointed out that the Gameboy was probably at their Grandma's. K9 refused to listen, and kept on with the mourning. I12 asked him, “If I find it for you, would you shut up?” and K9, apparently, said yes.

In the meantime, we gave up on the search, and started getting ready to go to Grandma’s. Getting three small kids ready for a walk can be very time-consuming. At some point, someone said that I12 wasn’t in the apartment. We decided that he was probably waiting for us outside, as we were taking a while getting ready.

Finally, when everyone was dressed and ready to go, the phone rang. It was Grandma.

She was calling to say that I12 was over at her place.

He had slipped out, walked all the way over to Grandma’s, and used all the Russian-speaking skills he had to tell them that he had come to look for K9’s stuff. He then went inside and found the missing Gameboy.

Coming up next: K9’s Ukrainian adventures.

The Goldie has spoken at 5:44 PM

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