Hosted by: Cynthia Swanson & Andrew Swanson

Once Upon a Time in Libya – Part 4

This installment will be about two distinct events: The Belt Incident, and How I Ended Up with a German Sister.

The Belt Incident

One of the hazards of being the oldest child, is getting blamed for things you had nothing to do with.  When you are said child, you can’t believe your parents are actually believing the lies spewing from the snot-nosed brat who is telling them–and yet, they invariably do.  Case in point: I once got in trouble for stepping on the cat’s tail while I was at school.  Now, I was tall for my age, but I wasn’t made of elastic.  There’s no way I could sit in class and stretch my legs the mile-and-a-half to our house at the time, just to step on the cat’s tail.  I tried pointing this out to my mother, but her mind was already made up before I came home from school.  Why?  Because my youngest siblings said I did it, and why would they lie?

They lie because they don’t want to get into trouble.  Duh.

Anyway, back when we were in Libya, punishment by spanking or belt was an acceptable parenting practice.  My dad had the distinction of being the Deliverer of Punishments.

I don’t remember what started the belt incident.  My oldest brother did something but no one saw him do it.  During questioning, he said that I did it.  I said I didn’t do it, and that he was just trying to get me into trouble, but my dad grabbed my arm and frog marched me to the back of the trailer, shutting the accordian doors behind us.

Then, my dad did one of the coolest things he had ever done.

In a whisper, he told me that he believed me, and that when he smacked the dresser with his belt, I was to scream bloody murder as if I had been spanked.

So began my acting career.

Yelling that he was going to teach me a lesson I wouldn’t forget, he lashed the dresser with the belt three times.  Each time, I cried out, then pretended to cry.  My dad put the belt down, then turned and pushed open the accordian door to find my brother standing on the other side, grinning.  At least until he saw my dad’s face, and looked beyond him to seeing me sitting on the bed without a tear in my eye.

Guess who got the spanking that day?

I have to admit, I smiled a little.

How I Ended Up With a German Sister

The first time we were supposed to go to Libya, our trip was delayed because my mother was pregnant. We went to live with her parents until my brother was born right before Christmas.  He came home from the hospital in a Christmas stocking, but I can tell you truthfully that I didn’t consider him a gift.  We had to wait two months until we could travel to Africa to be with my father.  And it was all his fault.

We finally went to Libya, lived in the villa, and my mother had the experience of leaving her husband behind in what had become a war zone and being airlifted out with three small children.  Having had children myself, I don’t even want to think what it was like for her.  The whole ordeal has always been a total blank to me.  I’m told we were in Spain for a couple of weeks, then traveled back to Portland.

A couple months later, things calmed down and families were allowed to come back.  We went back with a little extra baggage that my mother forgot to mention.

Yep.  She was pregnant.  Again.  As if I didn’t have enough problems.

So there we were, living in that small travel trailer, the five of us and my mother’s growing belly.  I never understood why the military kept us from coming to Libya the first time, but it turned out they didn’t have the facilities to deliver a baby.  So when the time came, my mother had to travel to Wiesbaden, Germany to wait for the birth of the baby–a sister, thank God.

And that’s how I ended up with a German sister.

Let me remind you, however, that we were still living in that travel trailer, and now there were six of us.  And oh–did I mention?  Our only vehicle was a two-door Volkswagen Bug.  And guess who had to climb over all the seats and ride in the crawlspace by the back window?

Comfortable, it was not, especially when I had both arms in slings.

But that’s for another installment.

Categories: Random Thoughts

1 reply

  1. Okay…the thing with the belt makes your Dad a rockstar! As for the rest, Oh Lordy. I’m enjoying this very much, so do keep ’em coming!

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