My mantra of "never say never" is inspired by a long and unfortunate history of my own, shamefully admitted, demise. Yes, my spoken aloud thoughts have been recorded by those closest to me and a source of great personal annoyance- my greatest being that I was heard to say that my children would never watch television. I can not say that myself without peals of laughter. I have learned that I have been wrong so often that I find myself saying the never mantra almost daily, in regards to where my children attend or so not attend school, where we will be living in five years, or my change of work status. I hate to admit but I think being truthful may undo someone popping out and yelling, "Jinx!!!!".
However, that being said, I have silently snickered at Disney lovers everywhere. We have taken our children to Disney World for a couple nights and it was fine, fun enough. Really though, I was consumed by the thousands of families marching around in synchronized and personalized clothing and hats topped with ears. I laughed, not aloud, but was overwhelmingly curious about these people that flocked to a place that was crazy expensive, very hot, and teaming with exhausted sweaty families. I could not help but wonder how they could all afford to be there and was only there myself due to a very nice Christmas present, a grandparent sponsored trip. In 48 hours we had spent $2000 and eaten a tremendous amount of chicken tenders, french fries and ice cream. We waited in line to see the characters and our middle son, aged 4 at the time, was petrified of the princesses and all other Disney characters. We schlepped around all day in the blazing sun, pushing a heavy double stroller, waiting in line, configuring fast passes, soothing three crying and terrified children on a Snow White ride and I thought to myself, Disney is dead.
Fast forward, four years and I am full on gung-ho Disney. I have a whole new understanding, appreciation and adoration of the Disney loving families out there. I was one of the outsiders that jeered but secretly felt guilty that I was too prideful to have monogrammed shirts made and didn't enjoy the experience as much as I noticed in others. I wrote this as I looked over Castaway Cay and after a wonderful week on the Disney Wonder, I seriously wonder if I will ever do any other type of vacation again. I walked the halls and instead of sarcastic comments, I said aloud, "That will be us next year! We will be ready and prepared!", in a voice that I did not know existed. Whose thought were these? Mine, they were all mine and as I walked away from technology, I observed and noticed and talked to wonderful extended families enjoying each other and having fun with their children in ways I was unaccustomed to ever encountering. I saw a lone daddy dancing with his young daughter, crazy dancing on a big wood stage by a pool, just the two of them. I saw pride being put aside again and again and I marveled at this collection of people that were here to spend time together.
I joined in rather quickly and attended the shows each night, going early with my excited ten year old son who has a penchant for being on the front row. I stood in line so we could take family pictures with Mickey and Goofy. I have flat out chased Minnie as I loved seeing Amos' face light up whenever he was in close proximity and would reach out and grab her nose, laughing the whole time. Today I sat with my oldest son and daughter and the three of us got hairwraps, bright blues and pinks. I smiled at the ones that were a bit swanky for Disney, perhaps some part of my old self, and I knew they were thinking they should be more fun too.
I kissed each of my children every day that week, many times over, I cuddled them and hugged them, sat in a dark theater rubbing their shoulders or pushing back thick heads of damp hair. I listened and talked and I said "Yes" way more than I can ever remember. Yes to two chocolate donuts each morning, a room service dinner of milk and cookies, countless hours in a cloudy lukewarm hot tub and the evidence of my permanently pruned hands and feet tell the world that I am fun. I played basketball, soccer, ping pong, fooz ball and video games. I've watched Pocahontas and 101 Dalmations in our cabin with the doors open and the salty breeze gusting through the sheer white curtains. I chased Amos up and down the narrow halls he lives to roam and I went to toddler time and played with Mr. Potato Heads and child sized grocery carts. I dug in hot sand for over an hour looking for whale fossils and knew it was worth it when I overheard Russell telling an employee he was going to be a paleontologist when he grew up. I spent so much time with my children that I really feel like I know them better, their thoughts, their attributes, areas of weakness that are part of every person's myriad of imperfections. I was reminded that attitude is everything and that my joy spreads out over each of them and determines the type of people they are becoming.
So yes, I love Disney, not for what it is but the kind of person it has helped me to be and though it may sound cheesy, I am thankful for our time together. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? We are never sure but I can be happy in my thoughts of a week well-spent for family bonding and remembering the brother I adored on trips and the fun we had. Next year, we will be more prepared, excited over our technology hiatus and ready to mark how our children have changed and grown, hopefully in maturity and wisdom, but clinging to the innocence of joyful childhood. Never say never.