As the children go back to school and Summer vacations have all been taken, I am reminded of a trip my family took to “The Happiest Place on Earth”.
Ever since we became empty nesters, my husband, John, and I do an awful lot of reminiscing about the children when they were young. Don’t get me wrong. We love the fact that our children are grown and have their own lives, but sometimes the sound of their little feet running through the kitchen is missed. They now range in age from 27 to 33, so their feet are not little anymore and having your children move on to homes of their own is what every good parent wants for their child.
One of the great things about being married with grown children is that you get to spend lots of uninterrupted quiet time with your spouse. In a house that was once filled with kids playing, laughing, and screaming, you now have a house that is at rest. My children made so much noise when they were young that I had no idea how loud birds, crickets and toads can get on a hot Summer night. Now, however, I can sit in quiet reflection and hear them loudly.
I love this phase of our life. It is far less chaotic, far less noisy, and far less messy. But do not get me wrong. I loved all the craziness of raising a family, which is probably why my husband and I have fond thoughts and talk about that time of our lives with one another. In fact, we were reminiscing one night when funny story came to mind.
Many, many years ago, when the three children were still small, we packed everyone up and took a family road trip to Disney World. This in itself was no easy task as the youngest was still in diapers and we were not only on a limited budget, but, also limited time as my husband had to be back to work a few days later.
So off we went in our full size cargo Chevy van. Two seats upfront, one for the passenger and one for the driver, which always happened to be John, and one large bench seat in the back for the children and their car seats. The rest of the van was unfinished and hollow which left plenty of room for the double stroller, luggage and the lifetime supply of diapers we chose to take with us.
The twelve hour drive was made through the night following my husband’s work shift. This way the children could sleep during the drive. We clearly did not think that through because once we arrived at Disney World, the kids were well rested and ready to go while us parents were sleep deprived, cranky and in need of a bath. But, just like the saying goes, there is no rest for the weary. So, we challenged through and headed to the Magic Kingdom.
It was a hot and crowded day which meant there were large lines to get on some of the rides, in particular, rides that took you into air-conditioning and or got you wet. Well, our son, Tony, wanted desperately to go on one of these said rides, so we all waited in line for what seemed like an eternity. We got to a point in the line that had a cartoon hand that said you must be so tall to ride this ride. Needless to say, the two youngest of our children did not make the height requirement. So, John took the two girls out of the line while Tony and I stayed and rode the ride.
The plan was for John to meet us at the exit of the ride when we were done. Except when the ride was over there was no John! No daughters in a double stroller and there was no purse with my money or I.D. My son and I walked around for about an hour looking for them until Tony was stricken with pangs of hunger. Without money we were forced to go back to the hotel where I had a stash of peanut butter sandwich fixings. So onto the mono rail and back to our hotel we went.
No room key and no I.D. caused me to have to plea a sad case to the hotel clerk to let us in, which they did. Once inside, we ate and I made phone calls to Disney World Security to be on the lookout for my husband and daughters and keep them at the security office until we got there.
Tony and I headed back to the wonderful world of Disney with eight Disney Dollars we found in the hotel room, determined to have fun while finding our missing family.
I tried to keep it interesting for him but we could not ride any rides for fear of being tethered to a long line and miss seeing John pass us by. So we walked around and went into shops. My young son found a Peter Pan Toy Gun he wanted to buy, but it was out of our eight Disney dollar range, which pushed Tony over the edge and in turn pushed me over my limit, too.
All I remember after that was grabbing some Disney worker’s Mickey Mouse Tie after he said to me, “Ma’am. You should not be in a bad mood. This is Disney World, the HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH!” I proceeded to scream at him, still clinging to his tie, telling him the story of the missing husband, missing children, missing purse, and missing money. All of a sudden, he picked up the phone and called someone and said, “This is Matthew. Please have 5 passes to anywhere Mrs. Price and her family want to go ready and waiting for her at the main gate.” Apparently I grabbed the right tie, because this young man had the ability to make things happen, as he also gave Tony the gun and let us keep our eight Disney Dollars, too!
Day turned to night, and still no John. I decided to go to the fireworks show and closing parade with Tony when, out of seemingly nowhere, who comes happily walking up to us? John and the girls!
Approaching me with a giant smile and arms extended for a hug he asked, “How was your day? Did you have fun?” Well, I guess the lack of sleep, the heat and the worry had all come to a head right then and there, and let me just say that if Disney World would have had a lawyer’s office on their Main Street, I would be divorced today.
The next day, we were set to make the twelve hour drive back home so John could get some rest before his next work shift, but, now we had tickets to go anywhere we wanted for free and John was in the doghouse, so MGM studios and no rest for John it was.
We all had a wonderful time at MGM studios, and we even got to meet the famous Ed Asner as he was filming a T.V. show there. John got so excited to see him that the attractive female co-star smiled at my husband, but John literally pushed her away in order to shake the hand of Mr. Asner. To this day, we have no idea who he pushed aside. For all we know, it could have been Julia Roberts. Clearly, John was not making the best decisions that weekend.
We salvaged the mini vacation and arrived home with minutes to spare before John started his shift at work. He literarily went two days without sleep and, even though I was the maddest at him I have ever been in my life, I emerged knowing that I was already at The Happiest Place on Earth and it wasn’t Disney World. It is anywhere my family is. Life is mysterious.