Like every other mother, I cannot believe summer is almost over. I’m a teensy bit in denial. We have thoroughly enjoyed sleeping late, leisurely days, and staying up late. HOWEVER, I will not miss days full of bickering, whining, and the constant trail of crap my kids leave behind them. I will not miss cleaning up after them and/or nagging them to pick up their messes. KNOCK IT OFF, KIDS. I’m about to drive a corkscrew through my eyeball.
Nevertheless, I am not looking forward to waking up early, running on a schedule, setting the alarm. It’s coming. Can’t stop it. We’ll do everything we can to enjoy the last couple of weeks. Minus the crap trail and the arguing.
In an effort to squeeze every last drop of marrow from the beauty that is summer vacation, we went on a Disney cruise, hereby known forevermore as THE BEST VACATION EVER. You guys. It was unbelievable. The food, the entertainment, the programs, the excursions, the service—everything was 5-star. Including the unlimited free soft-serve ice cream on Deck 11. There was only one complaint: it wasn’t long enough. We can’t wait to go back.
OK, two complaints. Nathan acted every bit of an eight year old boy. Not familiar with the psychosis? Read this. Apparently eight year old boys in our house are abducted by aliens and replaced with an extraterrestrial counterpart. Our job as parents is to refrain from killing the imposter until the mother ship returns in a few years to make the exchange. It’s exhausting. At least this time we 1) know what to do, and 2) know it’s a phase. But still. It’s exhausting.
To best illustrate the evidence of said alien possession and my exhaustion, let’s talk to one of the fabulous Disney crew members:
I was working at the Guest Services desk on the first day of this particular sailing when a friendly, stunningly attractive mom stepped up to the desk to turn in two pillowcases and a set of Sharpies for our Disney characters to autograph. We were having a delightful conversation when, out of no where, shrieks and screams erupted in the queue behind her. I gasped. A lanky blonde-headed boy with glasses had face-planted on the shiny marble floor, his feet still dangling from the red velvet rope. Obviously he had tried (unsuccessfully) to step over the rope. The woman turned her head to look at him and (I swear she rolled her eyes) casually walked over to him, bent down to check him over, and told him to stand up. He was still crying when she looked over at her husband as if to say, “A little help, please?” The father escorted the boy over to the side, where another crew member attended to them, asking if he needed medical attention. Meanwhile, the mom calmly returned to the desk to complete the necessary paperwork for the Magical Pillowcases.
I am told this same boy wandered away from his family within the first twenty minutes of embarkation and explored the ship on his own while they searched for him. Reporting from the Magic Kingdom, Tinkerbell recalled seeing him sit down in the middle of Adventureland the day before, angry and refusing to get up. His family simply stared at him, incredulous.
A few days later, I called their stateroom to check on the young lad.
“What happened?” the mother asked me.
“I was told he fell,” I replied.
“Really? When did this happen?” she asked.
“The first day of sailing,” I said.
“Ooooohhhhh,” she said, the light of recognition finally turning on. “Yes. Of course. Now I remember. He’s fine. Thank you so much for checking on him.”
Obviously, this family needs some help. I hope they took some pixie dust home with them.
So, yeah. We had our moments. Thankfully Nathan LOVED the Oceaneers Club and Oceaneers Lab, the ship’s kids club. He wanted to be there every possible minute, and we were all glad to
get rid of him allow him the opportunity to play with other kids. We were dragging him out of there at midnight. Win-win.
Truly, this ship had something for everyone. We had plenty of family-togetherness, but each of us had a place to go that was tailored just for us. The older kids explored and played on their own, went to the tween and teen clubs, and occasionally checked in via the blessed holy relics known as Wave Phones. Michael and I relaxed on the adult-only deck, visited the adult-only clubs and champagne bar—where, I am happy to report, there was nary a hint of Mickey Mouse. We love The Mouse, of course, but sometimes you just need to sip your champagne without him.
Griffin held Michael’s arm in the air and waved it vigorously until they were picked for this family game show. Michael dressed up like a dwarf. Dad of the Year, my friends. Fast forward to the last few minutes of this video. Apparently Matthew Crawley was on the Disney Dream. Who knew?
But my greatest Disney magical memory happened the last night of our trip. The final evening stage performance was a story of a scientist dad, too busy and cynical to play with his young daughter and her new magic set. “No such thing as magic,” he told her—which, naturally, are fightin’ words in the world of Disney. The dad takes a Christmas Carol-esque journey and visits various Disney characters, all of whom try to convince him to believe in magic. In the final scene, the Disney Princesses arrive at a ball and dance with their princes to all the princess theme songs.
At this point, I’m getting a little choked up. Preschool Meghan adored the princesses. She’d dress up and twirl around and dance and sing and make believe. She’d wear her princess tiara on her mop of sweet blonde curls all day long. She was precious. So seeing all these princesses on stage, dancing to their love songs, while brooding Teenage Meghan sat next to me, constricted my throat and chest with nostalgia. Sigh.
But then. THEN. The last princess comes on stage, elegantly dressed in a ball gown, and dances with her prince. “Who is that?” says the dad.
You see where this is going.
It’s his daughter, all grown up, dancing with her love.
Cue: ugly cry.
Oh, but we’re not done yet. “Daddy!” she exclaims, and rushes over to him. He takes her into his arms, she rests her head on his chest, and they start dancing to Baby Mine.
The ugly cry gets uglier. Meghan looks at me sideways as if I have completely lost it. Which, of course, I have.
Damn you, Disney.
Last year, Michael and I discussed our options for the summer, and we considered driving to the beach, or the mountains, or somewhere. Anywhere. The idea of a cruise came up, and we choked on the price tag. But then we realized our baby girl will be in high school this fall. We have, at best, four summers to cram in as many memories as we can. Of course you don’t have to spend a lot of cash to make memories. That’s not at all what I mean to imply. But we wanted to do something really special, something that our kids would always remember, something that allowed us to enjoy being together, laughing together, having fun together.
Mission accomplished. All five of us agree it was the best vacation we’ve ever taken. We will be back, O Great Disney Ship of Awesomeness.
Does Alaska allow aliens?