Just before we left for Disney I took the kids to a special program at
the local Library. It was something about big and small critters. The
programs have a decent reputation and considering how much GC loves
animals, I thought it would be a good break before the long car ride. I
was picturing live animals brought in for the kids to admire and maybe
I had to pre-register months in advance. Expectations were high. I
met up with a friend and her two boys there. We
settled into our seats. Our kids got great ones, right up front. I
looked at my friend with eyebrows raised. In the front of the room there
were no happy cages, no safari dressed bubbly animal wrangler. There
was a woman who was blasted out of 1972 and plopped in front of a number
of taxidermy-ed animals. Really old dead animals.
Oh no! Will GC have nightmares? Will she figure out that they're dead?
Front row seats mind you. We had two little foxes, faces arranged in
snarls, baring teeth. A large bird, talons exposed, A black bear,
ferocious glare in place. And the saddest piece of all, a momma raccoon
with her small dead baby raccoon in her mouth. Holy Guacamole, who
thought this was great show for kids! The refugee from 1972 began
her presentation in the most monotone, boring tone of voice she could
fester up. I think listening to an insurance salesman discuss the
virtues of loose-leaf paper would pack more of a punch. The kids ranged
in ages from 2 to about 12. They were like angels listening as 1972
picked up one dead animal after another pointing to various dead parts
and moving them slowly in a macabre horror show. She got to the raccoon
family. She holds them up. All of the mothers in the audience look
horrified. 1972 points out that these dead animals are so old, the mama
raccoon’s “fingers” have worn off to nubs. Why did I let my kids sit
through this? Well, the reward was getting to “pet” the animals.
1972 pulls my son out of his chair. He always gets picked for stuff, but
usually it’s good stuff. She hands him the two stiff, dead foxes. He
dutifully stuffs one under each arm and holds them at the right height
for the other kids to “pet” them. GC gets on line and waits for her
turn. Her reward. All of us mothers stand around waiting for our kids to
do the exact opposite of what we would tell them in the wild.
“Don’t touch the dead animal!!” is echoing through all our heads. I
guess you can put anything in a library, label it a kids show and we
will all put up with it. I'm thinking of all the road kill I'll try
and prevent the kids from seeing in our hours on the road. But I brought
them out special for this nightmare.
I look at my friend and say, “I
really hope the kids won’t be too disappointed when we get to Disney and
the characters move around. Dead animals are so electrifying.”
We get in the van. I turn to look at their confused faces. BC sums it up with a: “Well mom, that was weird”
Sorry Kids. Oops. Let’s rub some Disney on that weirdness until it goes away.
We have one last home dinner before we leave. I sit us down at the
dining room table for a little reminder course in table manners. We're
indulging in our first Disney Dining Plan experience this trip. Cast
members and their families get a deal and we love deals. We made our
ADR’s after careful deliberation of menus, reviews, etc.
We came up with Crystal Palace Breakfast, Boma, Chef Mickey Breakfast,
O’Hana, and Hoop dee Doo Review for our table services. Mr. A
examined our list and came to the realization that we had unknowingly
enrolled in the Disney Extreme Eating Plan. Every table service was All-you-care-to-Eat. Now, as far as we know, we're the first members of
the DEEP. So here's a few tips for anyone else that has the gall (and
the gallbladder) to enroll in this plan. First things first, you have
to build up your endurance to get more than your money’s worth out of
Stretching your stomach to competitive eating strength is recommended.
Begin shopping at a store like Sam’s or B.J.’s and buy your entrée’s
and sides in bulk. Instead of dividing them up into more sensible
portions, COOK IT ALL. And have at it. Eat. Learn to burp to make more
room. Serve Tums in little finger bowls.
Back to our tutorial. Besides competitive eating, we like our family
members to be polite at the table. There is only one sure fire way to
remind the kids of the manners we like to see.
Show them what not to do. Mrs. A cracked her knuckles and her neck, poured a tall soda and served chili dogs.
After much inappropriate and then, corrected appropriate, expelling of
digestive noises, including, but not limited to the sentence: “Kids, if
you have to fart, try not to squeeze the cheeks, because that turns them
into screamers!” Mr. A noted that he felt like he had just had
dinner with pirates. The kids asked to be excused from the table (good
kids!). We were ready to take on eating in the World.
Now the Anastasias were driving to Disney, straight through, cheating stops
at McDonald’s when alas, eventually, after we learned that Georgia and
South Carolina need Adult supercenters and their girls are TOPLESS!
TOPLESS! TOPLESS!, we hit the first smattering of Palm Trees, then the Welcome to Florida sign.
We traditionally stop, drink orange juice take pictures, and move on.
It feels wonderful there. Your whole trip is in front of you. Tinkerbell
has been farting her pants off the entire ride, bestowing presents on
my beautiful kids. I call my Dad for refresher directions to their
retirement park. Really it’s like a town. This place is the Disney World
of retirement parks. There are five pools, beautiful amenities, Mr. A and I want to retire in that very place when the time comes..
Me ~ “Hi, Dad.”
Dad ~ "I'll call back in a minute I am about to get a needle” Click.
I have a great imagination. I'm coming up with nada. What the heck are they doing?
“When you wish upon a star” my phone sings to me. I know my father's getting Minnie Mouse answering on his end.
Me ~ ”Dad?”
Dad ~ (slurring) ~”I’m in the dentist getting a tooth pulled, the dentist is here.”
Dad slurs through the directions. And like a trooper hangs up to get a
tooth ripped out. Last time I spoke to my parents, they were shopping in
Wal-Mart. That’s quite a jump from buying yoo-hoo to the dentist
We still have three to four hours of driving, so we pile in. Mr. A and I worry about Dad. I once had a tooth removed by a horrible
dentist and wound up with dry socket and no way to get a pain reliever. I'm determined that Dad will not have to go through that.
A little about my Dad. I have known him my whole life. He's actually
an invincible superhero. Tall, great looking, ridiculously strong with
an impeccable sense of right and wrong. He's a superb driver, funny,
and smart. When all the other Dads would sit on the beach at the lake,
my Dad would be in the water throwing me and my sister high in the air,
however many times we asked him, over and over again. My friends would
line up behind me and he would throw them too. Our own personal water
None of the other Dads got off their lounge chairs. Now, as a grown
lady, I realized how tired he must have been, working all week with
overtime thrown in. It would have been so nice to lay on the beach for a
He built me a tire swing, and treehouse and a dollhouse. He didn’t
complain when he took me on Big Thunder Railroad for the first time and I
peed on us both. What a great Dad. I have such high expectations for
Mr. A. I am proud to say he has never let me down once. He's a kid throwing rock star too.
Right after Christmas my invincible Dad was diagnosed with prostate
cancer. He beat it. Get your PSA levels checked gentlemen, and ladies
make sure your man gets his levels checked. It is a simple blood test
and it can save lives. Easily run at an annual exam. Get a healthy
baseline so you always know what your levels should be.
We were supposed to get a visit from my parents in April, but the cancer
treatment needed to happen. We'd not seen them since Christmas and it
was now July. I wanted to see my Dad. I know the cancer is gone, and I
was happy, but I wanted to see him with my own eyes. And my mother. 38
years of marriage. My parents are inseparable, miserable without one
another. What was it like to go through this worry with your two
daughters so far away?
And they miss the kids. We get closer.
And finally, we pull into the driveway and flood out of the van, Hugs
and kisses and holding hands. And breathe. There's Dad, looking great,
saying he is no pain from his tooth removal. And Mom, happy, crying
scooping the kids up.
We are here. We made it. Florida is so far away and I feel like we leave
part of our hearts there every time we head back home. The vacation has
started. Fill up the drinks with light up ice cubes, and make the music
loud. We have arrived.