If you know me or have been reading this blog, you realize that I’m a sarcastic, snarky type. I like to joke and make light of most things. Many of my parenting moments are framed in humor. I like laughing. It makes me happy. I don’t like to take things too seriously.
On the flip side, I’m a sentimental, emotional type. I will literally get teary-eyed (at the least) or cry when I see anyone else crying–in person, on television, in a movie, whatever. Cue sappy music, and watch the waterworks show. So, that means that I have cried watching every Disney movie ever made. Seriously–Every. Single. One. You can only imagine that my tear ducts are operating in full-on Ready Mode while in the Disneyworld parks. I well up when I see Cinderella’s castle. I get goose bumps watching the parades, shows and fireworks. I’m a cornball. I know.
I recently posted my salty Disney Vacation Revelations earlier this week. (You can read them here.) This post, however, is all sappy and sweet. It’s my smushy, mushy observations from our family vacation.
Taking turns / waiting for your turn is a great life lesson. Although it’s hard to appreciate when you’re sweating and hot standing on tired feet surrounded by people, it’s a good thing for everyone–kids and adults alike–to realize: we all need to be patient. That’s a tricky concept in this microwave society we live in where we want what we want and we want it N-O-W. I’m hungry for a full meal and I want it with next to no effort and I want it in 3 minutes. Go! Buffering? Seriously? I can’t stand sitting there waiting for my video content to catch up. I want a full TV show in the palm of my hand and I want it in 3, 2, 1, N-O-W! Seconds tick by feeling like minutes, minutes feel like eternity. It’s good for us though. It’s good for our kids to learn that good things come to those who wait. Usually.
A smile and a kind word (or note) go a long way. It’s not a novel idea. The saying “you catch more flies with sugar” has been around forever. It’s no secret that people prefer to be treated nicely. I know I do. My kids had the opportunity to see this in action. In our room we all had one pillow. That’s standard. Only problem is the Hubbinator and I both like to use a second pillow as a body pillow. (And we won’t go into details about how I like another small pillow to stand in for my 32 year old stuffed pot-belly raccoon, Rocky, that I sleep with every night. I could manage sleeping without that for a week. I didn’t want to seem like a diva.) After the first night, I suggested we write a note for the housekeeping staff requesting two extra pillows. Hubbinator sat down to jot a note while I was getting ready. (It’s worth noting that he is an engineer by trade … and he has many “typical” engineering characteristics, not the least of which is a very factual, to-the-point manner of communication.) When he finished writing he asked where we should leave it. I suggested on one of the beds to be sure the staff member would see it.While I was putting it there I read it. It went something like this: We would like two extra pillows. If you cannot provide this, we will contact management to resolve the issue. I tried to suggest that a softer approach would be better received and that we’d be more likely to have our request fulfilled if it didn’t sound so confrontational. He didn’t know what sounded “confrontational” about it. He was just laying out what we wanted and being up front about the path we would take if they couldn’t or wouldn’t accommodate us. The kids did agree that it seemed a bit harsh. Hubbinator said I was welcome to re-write it if I thought it was necessary. So, I wrote the note: Hi there! We would love it if you would be able to leave 2 extra pillows for us. We’d appreciate any help you could be–if you’re not able to do this, could you please let us know who we should call to be able to get them. Thanks so much! 🙂
When we arrived back in the room that night, there were extra pillows on the bed. Three of them. 3. Tres. I believe that was a Win for Kindness. I was really happy (and only in a slightly gloaty kind of way) that the kids were able to see this firsthand.
I have a real soft spot for seeing babies and small children asleep on their parents. It’s one of the sweetest joys of parenting. Hearing their slumbered, deep breaths. Smelling their slightly sweaty musky sleep smell. Feeling them melt into you in the most comfortable, relaxed, peaceful way. I just love it … and I miss it a little. My kids are 12 and 13 … I haven’t carried or held either of them in years. [Note: I don’t miss the back-breaking part of it where it feels like you’re holding a wet bag of sand and there’s no true relief until you can set them down. I remember that part very clearly. I haven’t totally lost touch with reality. I still have a grasp on what it really is to feel like your shoulders and arms are numb while the knot in the middle of your back grows tighter and larger by the second. It’s not just a romanticized notion and memory. It’s grounded.] So, imagine my delight when my 12 year old Girl fell fast asleep leaning on my shoulder while we rode the bus back to the hotel after midnight. I smiled the entire time. And I loved that when we arrived and the lights flashed on waking her up, she groggily looked up at me and said “I fell asleep on you” with a warm, cozy smile on her face. I know, baby girl. I know.
Vacations are more enjoyable with teens than toddlers. There’s less to pack. No stroller to maneuver through a busy park. No juggling naptimes. Fewer meltdowns (although not altogether eliminated). There are more mutually enjoyed rides and shows to experience. Less worrying about losing them in the busy park … and in this day and age, they have a phone. If we can’t find each other, we just text or call each other. Piece of cake!
Of course it was fun to see their delight and excitement when they were younger (just as it was with Santa, the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny), but it’s really cool to see them experiencing the wonder of it all now. It made my heart smile to see them pulling out their phones to take pictures and capture “cool” stuff that they wanted to keep as memories. I have been saying since birth that I’ve enjoyed them more and more as they’ve gotten older with every stage more pleasant than the last (with the exception of maybe the Threes for the Boy). I keep waiting for that tipping point when I’ll long for days gone by, but it’s not here yet. At least for me.
You have to kill (or at least gag) your inner chicken if you want your kids to develop a healthy sense of adventure. There are many traits I want to pass along to my kids–my friendly nature, my sense of family, my ability to not take myself or my mistakes too seriously. You know, the good stuff. But I absolutely do NOT want to pass on my scaredy-cat-ness, my phobia of any adrenaline inducing activity, my chicken-shit-ness. I want them to try new things, to live a little, to not pee their pants while merely watching someone go up in a hot-air balloon. I don’t want them to fly on an airplane with their heart racing and a lump in their throat while thinking about how much they don’t want to die today. So, I shushed that inner voice that said “NOOOOOOO rollercoasters!” and I didn’t tell them that I was scared stiff about riding the Downhill Double Dipper tube ride because I was terrified to drop 50 feet hurtling through the dark on two nearly straight down hills in about six seconds. In order to keep things “even” racing two and two, I smiled and agreed to go. Instead of the blood-curdling scream that wanted to be released, I gave a giant “Waaahhhaaaaahhhaaaahhhooooohhhhooooooo!” and a fun-filled scream. The Boy loved my shriek and thought it was awesome. When he excitedly asked “Dad, did you hear Mom yelling?? :D” the Hubbinator replied with “Who didn’t?!” It was fun. And I survived. And my kids did things that I’m sure they wouldn’t have if I were playing the part of MamaChicken.
Mickey Mouse shaped ice cream treat = $. Disneyworld ParkHopper tickets = $$. Plane tickets = $$$. Art of Animation room for one week = $$$$. Seeing my teen and tween having fun and being affectionate with each other all week long = priceless. One of the perks of having my kids close together (17.5 months apart, to be precise) is the built-in playmate factor. They have had similar interests and schedules since she was about 18 months and he was 3. They are normal kids–which means they argue and fight–but, overall, I have to say that they’re pretty good together. Especially now. [Note: picking up your entire life and moving two states away to a place where you don’t know a soul does a lot to strengthen the family bonds. When you know your brother / sister / mom / dad are all you’ve got for a while, you tend to appreciate them a little more and go out of your way to keep things simpatico.] But I just don’t even know how to put into words how much it meant to me to see them like this:
Holding hands with the Hubbinator and me … and with each other. For real. Hugging each other. Leaning on each other. Instead of channeling their inner Audrey from Christmas Vacation (“Get OFF me, you little fungus!”), they were happy to be with each other, next to one another … even touching. It was more than this sappy mama could take a few times and the tears welled up and a few escaped. It was good to have on sunglasses … because I didn’t want them to get distracted from being sweet with each other because they wanted to know what was wrong with me. There wasn’t anything wrong. It was actually very right and I just wanted to let it soak in because I don’t know how many more trips we’ll have like this.