May 25, 2004

A Series of Unfortunate Events...

The Disney Trip was...eventful to say the least. There were some really stressful situations that came up, but Matthew was blissfully unaware of them and had a blast in the parks. Months in advance, we warned Craig that this trip would be MUCH slower paced than his usual Blitzkrieg tactics of theme park conquest. When you have a 2-year old, he sets the pace for the pack. Any guide will tell you not to force the more grown-up idea of "ride accomplishment" on a young child. They'll like some rides, but they'll enjoy the atmosphere and characters more. It's like a MasterCard Commercial:

Gas money to drive to Orlando: $50
3 Nights in Disney Resort Hotel: $400
Theme Park Tickets to SeaWorld, The Magic Kingdom & Epcot: $450
Your child having the most fun playing in a puddle: Priceless

Matthew had a great time, and Craig dealt with the change in pace surprisingly well. Melissa swelled with pride when the little guy saw the entrance to DisneyWorld and shouted "Mickey!!" Even with the kid in tow, we accomplished most of the things that we like to do in the parks. For roller coasters, we either took turns or did them while he took his mid-day nap. ("Mission Space" at Epcot is absolutely top-notch.)

Melissa and I are firm believers in what we call the "Vacation from Reality" principle: When you are on a vacation, your daily worries and routines are checked at the door. These are a few days to escape from the concerns of everyday life. Eat whatever you want, no matter how bad for you, and likewise, let your child eat what he or she wants. Buy a few trinkets if it makes you and the child happy, even if you know you'll never use them outside the park. If your child wants to do something that's not in your plan, yield to the child when you can. Still do things for yourself, but remember that you have the final say the other 360 days out of the year, so let your kid call the shots for a while.

Even without kids, this principle will allow you to have the greatest vacations of your life. Americans tend to be busier on their vacations than they are in normal life, packing it full of more schedules and activities than you can handle. How is that supposed to be a break, exactly? Note that this principle works in the short term, for vacations up to 10 days, but be flexible beyond that. Some British families come to Florida for upwards of a month. If you ate nothing but corndogs and cheesecake for four weeks, you'd come back looking like Roseanne Barr's family portrait. (See also "Supersize Me!")

As I said, there were some stressful times, like being awakened by hammering on our roof at 5:30 AM, a brief illness and a flat tire. But I found that all of Matthew's positive experiences overshadowed them: Seeing his face light up when Minnie blew him a kiss, hearing him shout with joy as he rode in the front car of the monorail, feeling him bouncing happily on my shoulders as he watched the parade, and laughing as he quacked loudly at people dressed as ostriches (it sort of looks like a duck, I guess). I gladly accepted the stress to have these memories.

In our absence, Mel's parents enjoyed our gift of tickets to see Bill Maher at the Tabernacle. This was less of a gift and more of a repayment for various & sundry auto repairs that Ron performed on our cars, including putting new tires on my car before we left. I'm glad they enjoyed the show, and hold absolutely no ill will towards Ron, who forgot to give me the warranty paperwork for said new tires, which sprang a leak on their maiden voyage to Orlando. It's all water under the bridge. Really. Bygones. (See All the Pics)

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