I did something yesterday I swore I would never do again. Nausea swept over me, but I gritted my teeth and did it anyway. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. But it killed me. I almost didn’t do it. The potential benefits ultimately outweighed the shame.
Yesterday, my friends, I bought a stroller.
Before you have a panic attack, let me reassure you that I am absolutely, positively, 100% NOT pregnant. Not that kind of nausea. No, I purchased a stroller because our very complete family of five will soon venture to the vast land of endless entertainment and walking. Also known as Walt Disney World.
We have braved The Happiest Place on Earth twice already. Once when Meghan was three. We left newborn Griffin behind and my parents joined us, so we had four adults and one well-behaved, princess-obsessed child. We travelled during an off-off-peak season, so we practically had the parks to ourselves, and the weather was perfect. Magic.
Our second trip came four years later when Meghan was in 1st grade and Griffin was in preschool. Newborn Nathan stayed behind with my parents. Two adults, two kids, same time of year. Except that this trip happened to fall on the same week as Rosh Hashanah. In Texas, the veritable buckle of the Bible Belt, our antennae don’t always tune in to the Jewish calendar. In other parts of the country, they apparently get a break from school that week. And everybody goes to Orlando.
It was a nightmare.
The temperatures were unseasonably warm, and the crowds peaked. We spent an hour in line waiting to check into our hotel room. We waited half an hour to board It’s A Small Freakin’ World. Throw in two cranky siblings who were elbowing each other and making sure one did not get in front of the other during the forty-five minute wait for Goofy’s Barnstormer – well, you can imagine how unmagical that week was. I couldn’t wait to get home, and it took me six years to recover enough to stomach a third trip to The World.
And this time, I checked the Jewish holiday calendar before paying for our tickets. I think we’re good.
Except that we will have two adults and three kids, the youngest of whom fully enjoys his surroundings. Fully. He tends to walk twenty paces behind everyone else because he’s too busy noticing the bugs on the sidewalk to realize he’s fallen behind.
Hence, the stroller.
Renting a stroller at the park would cost more than buying one, and while I could have borrowed a stroller, I’d feel awful returning it in seventeen pieces – which, with my luck and my 55 lb. son, would happen. Then I’d have to buy a new stroller anyway.
Disney World brings out the obsessive monster residing deep inside me. I am a serious planner. I read the guidebooks and websites, I memorize the tricks and tips, I research which days are the least crowded at which parks. I make a detailed itinerary of where we will go and exactly what we will see and do each day. I am determined to make the most of this vacation. You can’t just show up at Disney World and follow your whims. No. You have to have a plan.
And my plan does not include lollygagging six year olds fascinated with lampposts.
My plan does include days chock full o’fun and late nights bursting with fireworks. With all the fun crammed into my our agenda, I’m anticipating tired kids with tired feet by the end of each day.
The thought of riding in a stroller mortifies Nathan. “People will look at me and won-duh why a six and a half ye-ah old is widing in a stwoll-uh!”
I told him that people would rather see a six and a half year old quietly riding in a stroller than a six and a half year old screaming and whining and sitting down in the middle of the sidewalk while his parents pretend they are looking for that child’s missing parents.
I confess that while I don’t mourn the passing of the baby years, I do miss the stroller. Especially the stroller basket and cup holders, which are invaluable at an airport or a shopping mall. I don’t miss the impatient child sitting in the stroller, or the diaper bag or sippy cup or bag of Cheerios – but having a wheeled holder-of-all-things does come in handy. So even if Nathan chooses to walk (briskly!) alongside us through Disney World, we will still have a place to store our water bottles and sunscreen and souvenirs. Win-win.
When we return from our magical vacation where no one will whine or complain, where our feet will not ache, where the short lines will allow us to walk on to every ride, where we will have a perfect view of every parade, where it will never rain or be too cold or too hot – when we conclude this perfect vacation, we will still have a stroller. We could save it for walks with our nephews or nieces, we could sell it, we could lend it out.
Or you just might see me in Austin or Southlake or Canton, pushing this babyless stroller filled with shopping bags, antiques, water bottles, a camera bag, and my purse.
Shopping bags don’t need their diapers changed.