Thursday, January 19, 2012

Magic is an Illusion

Almost a year to the date, I blogged about how wonderful our first trip to Disney was. On our way home, we had already begun planning our next trip. We talked about it and looked forward to it all year. Glen and I planned it in secret, surprised the boys the day we left, and spent a week at Disney. The weather was perfect and our hotel was much nicer than last year's (we stayed at Port Orleans--Riverside). The Magic Kinddom stayed open an hour later one night, just because, and we got to re-ride the Kali River Rapids 5 times in a row! All of our meals were excellent and we had prime seats for Epcot's fireworks. Jamie rode his first big roller-coasters and Emery even got to ride a few of the bigger rides. On paper, it was a magical vacation. So why am I left with a sense of disappointment?

I've gone over in my mind why I didn't have as good a time this year. The kids' behavior wasn't as good on this trip--despite better sleeping arrangements, they seemed more tired and cranky. Glen assures me this was the case on the first trip and I just forgot how bad they were the first few days. Perhaps. There seemed to be more smokers and that is something that drives me crazy. The people who worked there didn't seem to have the Valium-induced smiles plastered on their faces, either. I think hardly anyone wished me a "magical day." Our last day there, I found out they changed their meal plan policy and the leftover quick-service meals I had planned to use for Rice-Krispie Mickey Mouse souvenirs couldn't be used. All minor things, but they seemed to weigh on my mind.

Still, none of this seems good cause for my negative feelings about the trip.--feelings none of my other family members share. There has to be more. I've been struggling lately with the discrepancy between the values I have and the reality we are living. I want to scale back and live more simply. I want my children to appreciate the value of what they have and I feel like this trip illustrated how far I am from that goal.

When we told them we were going, Jamie's first response was, "no, I want to go to Hershey." There was no gratitude, just the desire for something other than what he was receiving. They squabbled over who got more treats, who got more snack, who got more rides, who got more time with daddy, or who got to be first in line. If something could be made into a point of contention, it was. They wandered around the parks as if they owned them. There was no concern for bumping into people or walking in front of someone taking a picture.

So, instead of vacation being a break from daily issues, this year, it seemed to magnify them. I found myself thinking about how expensive the trip was and how little appreciated my time and energy in planning it were. And I realize the fault lies in my perception of incidents on the trip more so than objective reality. I saw other parents whose kids behavior was far worse and parents whose level of frustration was far greater. It doesn't change the fact that my children's behavior on the trip mirrored some bigger concerns I've been having.

Now I'm faced with what to do with these feelings. How do I change our day-to-day life to better reflect the values that I think are important? How do I better instill those values? How do I ensure our next vacation is one I can enjoy?