In the summer of 2009, my in-laws took the entire family on an amazing week-long trek to Norway. It was the boys’ first time abroad. They were then just six and eight. They were treated to business class seats on the flight from Newark to Oslo. We spent a couple days in Oslo at the Holmenkollen Park Hotel, our headquarters for exploring the city, viewing viking ships, and visiting the Vigeland Sculpture Park. We left Oslo and traveled via rail to Bergen where we spent two days enjoying the city, Bryggen, and the aquarium. We left Bergen on a fjord cruise. One of our stops on the cruise was Finnbotn farm where we were able to drink from a glacier-fed waterfall, eat traditional Norwegian food, and enjoy the odd sight of their pet parrot flying around the fjord. We later took a ride on the Flam railway, saw Kjosfosson Falls, and finally returned back to Oslo to enjoy the view from the roof of the opera house, which rises from a fjord. My point is that the entire trip was memorable. Each day was a grand adventure filled with incredible sights. For my boys, though, the highlight of the trip, the thing that still sticks with them, was a seagull.
On our first night in Bergen, as we were getting ready to put the boys to bed (a feat that is not easy when it’s 10:30 p.m. and still light outside), we heard a noise on our third-story window ledge. We went to the window and there, just inches away from us through an open window, was a large seagull that seemed not the least bit alarmed to find us staring at him. I told the kids to ignore him and get ready for bed, and we closed the window. Next thing we knew, the dang bird was pecking at the window. Seriously? Like it’s not difficult enough to get the kids to sleep? Now they know there is a large bird trying to peck his way into our room? Come on. Work with me, Norway.
The kids were by then completely riled up. They kept going to the window, trying to scare the seagull. It seemed, however, that the more they pestered him, the longer he felt compelled to stay. To get the kids away from the window, I decided it was time for a scare tactic. (I’m not proud of it, but sometimes they work when nothing else does.) I told them that the seagull, enraged by their taunting, was trying to get into our room so he could peck out their eyeballs. Okay. Okay. Not technically true, but effective nonetheless. They snuggled up to each other in their shared full-size bed and stayed well away from the window for the rest of the night.
However, for the rest of the trip, they were convinced that every seagull we saw (and you can imagine how many frigging seagulls are in Norway) was the one from that window ledge. I have to admit that I might have encouraged the story a bit by pointing them out and telling them he was tracking them. When I did my 50-mile MS Walk in San Diego later that same year, I sent them this iPhone photo of a gull and told them he had found me so it was just a matter of time until he found them. I’m going to hell.
Well, today we were on our way home after school and Joe noticed a seagull in the park in our neighborhood. Of course, Joe not being one to let things go, the entire conversation began again. While Joe pondered their safety, Luke tried to persuade him that perhaps that gull he saw was just one of the original seagull’s henchmen (or is it henchbirds?) and that the true gull had not yet drawn a bead on their actual whereabouts or their eyeballs.
I have to admit that the entire legend completely cracks me up. How my kids, who started reasoning away the logical existence of Santa Claus at age six, can honestly believe one lone seagull is tracking them around the world is beyond me. Still, at the very least this tells me that a) they do actually listen to me and b) seagulls are a lot scarier than I thought. 😉