The night before, I made a series of one-word signs that together spelled out "We Are Going to Disney World", and I hung them going down the hallway and the stairs. I envisioned my son reading the signs aloud to my daughter, the realization slowly hitting them that they were about to embark on the vacation of a lifetime.
Finally, the big moment came. We woke the kids up and told them it was time to get ready for school. Groggy and grumpy, the kids emerged from their rooms. Jack saw the first sign almost immediately and demanded, "What's this?" I told him to just read it, a smile spreading across my face. He read it aloud: "We." I was elated; my dream was coming true! Slowly, the kids tiptoed down the hallway to the next sign. Jack read again: "Are." And then my dream exploded.
"I know what this is going to say," Jack announced. "We are going to Disney World."
"You're right!!" I responded, even though I was a little disappointed that he had figured the mystery out so quickly. "TODAY!!". I braced myself for the ginormous response that I was about to get.
"Yay," they said. And nothing else. I get a bigger reaction when I tell them that we're going to the Dairy Queen.
At first, I felt completely deflated. Then, I realized that, even though I had already began "mixing up the Disney Kool-Aid", the kids had no reference point for this trip; they really didn't understand why they should be excited.
|Jack and Sadie: excited (sort of) for our trip|
I realized that I needed to adjust my expectations. So I handed them their personalized mouse ears and their "I'm Going to Walt Disney World Shirts", and I took their picture in our foyer. I knew that, no matter what happened on our trip, this was still a moment I wanted to remember forever. And I was right.
So, here's my first piece of advice: personalize those mouse ears, buy those T-shirts, make those signs, and get excited. You should be excited. You've prepared, you've planned, and you're going to have an amazing vacation. Sure, there will probably be other trips that are more glamorous and educational. But you only go to Disney World with your children for the first time once. And there is nothing else like it. You will never have those same moments of wonder, amazement and innocence again with your kids. Your children will never again believe that Cinderella really lives in that beautiful castle or that elephants can really fly. You will never see the exact same expressions of wonder on their faces when they ride "It's a Small World" or watch The Main Street Electrical Parade float past them for the first time.
Only, your kids don't know this yet. They have no idea what to expect. This brings me to my second piece of advice: Do not anticipate a gigantic reaction from your children when you tell them that they are going to Disney World. You will probably not get it----the first time. The giant reaction comes when you tell them that they are going back to Disney World for the SECOND time. Because, by then, you will all have drunk the Kool-Aid! And there is no turning back....
Next Up: The First Taste, Part Two: What Magic?
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