Arnie and I have been together for almost 16 years and married for 14 of them. Somehow in those 16 blissful years we have managed to avoid one of the major milestones of family life in America- going to Walt Disney World. That is, until now. Our kids are getting up there in age and are quickly moving out of the “It’s magical” reaction to Disney and rapidly toward the “Yeah, whatever. Where’s my iPod?” reaction. We have to act fast. So, we’ve decided to plan a trip for this year. Our kids are in year-round school so we’ll take advantage of the cool temperatures and (hopefully) smaller crowds and go during their October break. That’s as far as we’ve gotten with the planning.
We’ve queried a few families who have been there and gotten some good feedback. Some we will use, some we won’t. For example, my brother spent months pouring over guide books, scouring the internet for tips and came up with a spreadshit (no joke, I just typed that. I’m leaving it in there because that was such a perfect Freudian slip!)… I mean… spreadsheet which not only detailed each section of every park and the rides contained therein, it noted whether use of the “Fast Pass” was possible, any restaurants available, the times and locations of any reservations he had made, times of shows and parades and all of it was color coded. This was cut down to a totable size, laminated and bound with three rings to make an easy access reference they carried with them every day. It was amazing. I envied it and his planning skills since I don’t possess them. When I told a friend about it, she asked if he was adopted. I told her no, that he was an accountant.
Other people weren’t quite as organized but enjoyed themselves anyway. They, however, waited for long periods in line. I’m hoping we can be somewhere in the middle. We’ve begun to think about where we would stay. Of course, there are several options. We could stay at a time-share condo close by that my in-laws said they would generously share, we could stay on site at an economy hotel and do a budget vacation, we could go all out and stay somewhere like Animal Kingdom and watch exotic animals being fed outside our balcony, or we could pull our camper the 620 miles it will take to drive there and stay in Fort Wilderness- the Disney campground.
Guess which option I vote for? Guess which one my husband wants to choose? Let me qualify my lack of enthusiasm by saying that I love our camper. It has two beds, a kitchen sink, a microwave and an oven, a refrigerator, a stereo/DVD player and most importantly, a bathroom with a toilet, a shower and a door that closes! We take it out every weekend we can when the weather is nice. We have a lovely campground by a lake that’s only 20 minutes from our door and it’s like a second home to us in the summer. Let me clarify by saying that I’m not THAT kind of girl- the “high maintenance” kind. Okay, it’s not like we’re roughing it, but I don’t mind getting dirty. What I do think I will mind is pulling into Ft. Wilderness, getting the kids excited about finally being at Disney and then telling them they have to wait while their father and I park the camper, level the camper, unpack our wares, set up the water and sewer connection, unfold the bunk ends, slide out the couch, make the beds… I can see you making a face right now. It’s the same face I’ve worn when I think of it too.
Until today. I’ve thought about the reasons why Arnie is lobbying for Camp Mickey. He has very fond memories of being there, camping with his family as a kid. He said Camp Mickey was almost as much if not more fun than the Disney park itself. It made a big impression on him and he gets this far away nostalgic look on his face every time he talks about it. It’s actually really sweet. I understand wanting to recreate memories for your kids. It’s the same reason we’ve taken our kids to Hilton Head Island which is where my family would vacation every year. But as an adult and as the parent, it’s just not the same. I’ve warned Arnie about this simply because I don’t want him to be disappointed.
But really, who am I to dash his dream for his family? I have learned something in these 16 blissful years- sometimes you’re the supporter and sometimes you’re the supported. A friend of mine calls it the balance wheel and I love that. Events in recent years have meant that the balance wheel has largely spun toward Arnie being the supporter. You know the phrase “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? I hate that phrase but Arnie kind of embodies it. He has said before that if he can make my life easier, then his life is easier too and everything is better. This absolutely floors my mom who had a wonderful husband for 52 years in my dad, but he wasn’t the most helpful guy. His many strengths lied elsewhere. But what Arnie understands is that it’s not just taking care of the “honey do” list (which I REFUSE to have- I’m not his mama, he’s not 10 years old and doesn’t need a chore chart.), it’s recognizing when to be quiet, when to give a kind word and when to say, “Here’s a glass of wine, go take a bath, I’ve got this.” when I’m at my wit’s end or in the middle of an emotional meltdown. Oprah once said that foreplay doesn’t just happen 10 minutes before intercourse, it happens ALL DAY LONG. (And no guys, I don’t mean lewd whistles when we bend over to unload the dishwasher. I mean unloading the dishwasher WITH us. You can spank my ass while we’re doing it- that’s fine! Just have your other hand ready to accept the utensil basket.) Arnie gets this. He tries really hard and is very good at taking care of all of me.
That’s why I’m willing to take one for the team. And not in that half-hearted “Okay, I’ll tell you yes so we can get this over with and I can go to sleep.” kind of way. (For the record, I have NEVER done that. I swear. I don’t see the point, actually. Catching a dead, limp fish is no fun for the fisherman OR the fish. Better to stick your pole in the water when it’s more welcoming. Assuming that’s sometime within the next 48 hours. If not, you may have a problem that I can’t help you with.) What’s the use in doing something for someone else if you’re just going to make them feel guilty or terrible about the fact that you’re doing it? You gotta go all the way, and do it gladly. So, when we were sitting at dinner I looked at him and said, “Honey, if camping at Fort Wilderness is what you want to do, I’m on board. Let’s do it! It sounds like fun!” It’s time the balance wheel spun in my direction even if that means the wheels of our camper will soon be rolling down I-95.
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