Vacationing With The Kids

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The lure of Disney World, or Orlando in general, is fairly enticing huddled in front of the TV while the temperature outside is brutal and snow is in the immediate future. Of course, watching those happy couples and their smiling children experiencing a personal meeting with a Disney Princess and having a front row seat to the fireworks over the Magic Castle is everyone’s dream vacation.
Only that’s not what actually happens.
Taking young children to Disney World is a suicide mission. It will test your ability to remain civil to your children and each other. People just don’t come to Massapequa anymore for its tourism since we closed the Massapequa Zoo more than 50 years ago, but they do head for the bright sunshine of Florida during the winter.
If you have spent time at JFK on departure day, you can see the happy faces of the families as they anticipate jetting to a wonderland of adventure. They already have their T-Shirts and funny hats on. Kids are reading books, or playing with toys, just like angels. Kind of reminds me of the week leading up to Christmas—everyone is on their best behavior.
Then they arrive in Florida and the adorableness level goes to 11. They are enjoying the weather, splashing around in the pool and eating junk food. What could possibly go wrong? By this time tomorrow, you and your wife will be preparing your acceptance speeches for “Parents of the Year”.
Don’t rent that tuxedo just yet.
Now I am sure that many of you have had wonderful experiences with your children at Disney World or Universal Studios or Sea World while in Florida. I’ll bet that you have wonderful pictures and memories that will last a lifetime. We’ve taken our children to Orlando a number of times as they grew from cherubic toddlers into moody teenagers. And I would say that about 60-70 percent of the time, it was a wonderful experience. But oh, that other 30-40 percent was just brutal.
All the planning, all the expense, nothing can prepare you for the actual experience of walking into a Theme Park while towing 100-pound backpacks and trying to control young children. Besides all of the packing and preparation before you even leave the hotel room, once you get there, well, everyone else is there at the same time.
Do any of your children have any previous experience waiting in line for virtually anything? Do they have any conception as to how long 30 minutes is when slowly shuffling along in the hot sun? Do they have any conception of how much things cost in a theme park? You will wind up saying the word “no” more times to your children in a 10 hour period than you will over the next 10 months.
But you know what? It cost you so much money to be at that theme park, you are determined to have a good time, even if you have to force them to have a good time. You will drag those children kicking and screaming from one attraction to another. And it doesn’t matter what you want to do. It doesn’t matter what your spouse wants to do. It doesn’t even matter what your eldest children want to do. The only thing that matters is your youngest child, the lowest common denominator.
And when all is said and done, you lug your children, empty backpacks and yourselves back to your hotel room, collapsing on the bed while they get a second wind and want to watch movies.
It has been rough, but you made it. Just think, only five more days to go.

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