When I was 23 years old and had been dating Hubby for a little less than a year, we took our first vacation together. Being young and in love (emphasis on the young), we thought it would be fun to take a trip to Disney World.
We gamely packed up my two-door Camry (the Green Hornet!) and drove the 16 hours to central Florida. Upon arriving at the All-Star Sports resort, we discovered that ridiculously long lines began when you check in to your hotel (and never stop). As I waited (and Hubby paced the lobby, desperate for a beer), my ears were assaulted by the piercing screams of a cute little red-headed girl, about three years old.
“Stop It!” she shrieked, over and over and over and over and over, hanging off the velour rope that kept us corralled like cattle to slaughter. Parents? Who knows. No one seemed horrified or embarrassed by her behavior or was doing anything to bring it to a rapid or quiet conclusion. No one was grabbing her by the arm and threatening to take away Mickey privileges. It was irritating. I was annoyed. I questioned the fitness of her parents.
Not any more.
The 30-year-old Michelle has officially been there. She has watched helplessly as her 18-month-old daughter hurled (hot!) macaroni and cheese at perfectly nice-looking strangers the next booth over. She has cringed as the child had a complete meltdown, demanding to be taken to “swim” IMMEDIATELY, NOT AFTER YOU PUT ON MY SWIMSUIT AND SWIM DIAPER AND APPLY SUNSCREEN. RIGHT NOW. She has looked apologetically at strangers after the baby chucked small plastic toys at their heads. And she has cleaned up car-sickness-induced vomit from a car seat in the middle of a national park. And that, folks, isn’t easy.
But, she has also heard shouts of joy from first amusement park rides and first water slides and the first time little toes hit the cold water in the pool at the bottom of a waterfall. She has seen eyes light up at the sight of tadpoles-almost-turned-into-frogs in the wild and at the possibility of another ride on the Ducks. She has laughed as her not-shy-at-all daughter makes her way up next to a bluegrass harmonica and banjo player and dances to the delight of the gathered crowd. She has felt amazement as her little girl gamely repeated “two” after her daddy said “one” before taking a picture of complete strangers in front of the national park sign and learned the words “bear,” “water” and “hat” all in the same day.
Yes, 30-year-old Michelle is exhausted from vacation. But she’s so very, very happy.