I got reported to whitewhine.com earlier this week for posting something on Facebook about scheduling family vacations. And yeah, I know, first world problem, blah blah blah, but ya'll, let me tell you. That shit is hard. Last year, I just let Matt do the whole shebang and then just showed up with a smile on my face, rocking the greater Williamsburg area LIKE A BOSS. But this year, I told him I'd do something, like research stuff and whatever, since I sit in an office all summer just working on my novel (SHUT UP!) and occasionally fielding calls from people who preface their requests with "So, I'm thinking I might like to go to college and shit." So it's not like I don't have the time. Anyway, I start looking and let me tell you--it is bananas. Tripadvisor is great and all, but there is only so much you can take before all the pictures start to run together and you really start thinking that the DoubleTree in Cleveland is the Hampton in DC is the SpringHill Suites in Gatlinburg. And yes, ya'll, at some point this summer, my husband and I are (willingly) going to Cleveland.
Matt has this (nerdy) Five Year Plan for family vacations. He describes it as a "Ward Cleaver cum Clark Griswold cum Hal Jordan BOSS move." Whatever. This year, we are taking our kids to the nation's capitol, because we enjoy feeling like we are burning from the inside as we gently goad our progeny into looking at some mothereffing pandas. The kids are really excited, because, hey, what can I say--we raise nerds. Sam is all like "OH MY GOD MOM. CAN WE GO TO MOUNT VERNON!!!!! GAAAAAHHH!!!!" And then he laid down in the floor and did this really weird lay-dance. Wanting to capitalize on all this blatant nerdery and Matt's seemingly endless patience for travel, I had the great idea to also take some "fun" weekend trips as well, where we really just go over the top and perhaps visit places where we don't have to read anything. Like the J. Crew Outlet. And since this is my baby as it is, I have to plan that too, on top of the Great Washington DC Nerd-Out of 2011. Had I realized that, my kids would be having the same kind of summers I had as a kid, which mostly consisted of me riding around with my mom as she audited the area school systems, playing Tetris and picking scabs.
So last night the kids were at the table and we're eating and I get the great idea to really tease them, and I go, "So kids. Guess where we're going next week?!?!" And the answer, I'll tell you my loyal readers, is the Knoxville Zoo (we are members after all) and to the greater Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area which, yes, has a J.Crew Outlet and more blatant redneckery than any of you really thought possible. There is fudge there too, and a decent minor league baseball team, so you know, it might be the greatest place on the planet.
Gabby, however, who probably ingested just a little too much chlorine a the pool yesterday, goes, "DISNEY WORLD?!?!?!"
A normal mother would gently say, "No, sweetie." A slightly more unhinged mother would have said, "Um, in what universe do people just pick up and go to Disney World for a couple of days just for giggles?" And of course, I said, "Uh, no. If we decide to visit America's stretch mark any time in the next 5 years, I'll give you a little bit more than one week lead time."
Now, I mean no disrespect to anyone who lives in Central Florida. If you live there, you can take massive solace in the fact that I live in a town that is not even really a town, just an unincorporated land mass, and it probably ranks pretty low in the ole per capita tooth rankings. One of the finer dining options in my town is called Ma's and Pa's and they let you trade gold teeth in for fish dinners. They do not, however, accept Visa. NOT JOKING. So Central Florida, comparatively, is probably a lot better than where I live. But I'll just say, I've been to Central Florida a couple of times, and it is what I imagine the Gaza Strip is like. It is really hot, there's gunfire, random things are on fire, buildings are sitting there, half completed, there are random car parts laying in random places. Even more disturbing is the high concentration of really old people in shorts. Not my cup of tea, ya'll.
The fact that Disney World is just plopped in the middle of this crap is, I think, just a big middle finger to all us parents. It is like taking my lovely Liev Shrieber and plopping him down in a sequel to Kangaroo Jack. Sure he's great and all, but do I really want to go sit through that steaming pile just to see him? HELL NO. And the thing is, I don't think Disney is all that great. Sure, I've been there when a couple of times when I was younger, and I think I liked it. I don't have any strong memories either way. But the thing is, I grew up in a simpler time. My kids are growing up in a time with iPads and TiVo and all manner of quality television programming and private pools and all kinds of crazy shit I couldn't even conceive of as a kid who only had three television channels until she was 10. They've been to theme parks on both sides of the country, beaches, had parents who, you know, totally effing RULE. I would find it highly surprising if my kids could even pick Mickey Mouse out of a line-up. Why would they want to go see a guy dressed up as said mouse and hug a princess who probably works the late shift at Captain Jack's Girls and More?
But they do. Gabby went to Disney with a friend earlier this spring, and she's just ga-ga for it, I guess. And when she mentioned it, Sam's eyes lit up. And I'm thinking, "Oh HELL no. Sure, you can puke on me, scratch me, keep me up at night, force me to see the freaking Gulliver's Travels with Jack Black and even admonish me when I try to tell you afterwards what the book was like. But this shit? And I have to pay for it, to be willingly tortured? To see princesses that I, yes, morally object to because I am just that kind of self-righteous, pretentious beast? Oh NO. MOMMY OUT."
Matt though, being Captain Geek Sparrow himself chimes in with a "I so want to go to Universal Studios and ride that Harry Potter ride." And while I briefly consider the fact that I'm pretty sure I should be arrested for being married to someone who is obviously a 12 year old with incredible beard growing abilities, I think, "This is happening. My God in Heaven. This is really happening."
There's part of me that wants to make a line in the sand and just say that we're to my limit. That I'm allergic to mice and princesses and tacky castles made out of stucco. But I won't. Because I love my kids, and my husband for that matter. Sure, I'll object to the point that even the dog is rolling his eyes at me. But they will put it into some dazzling SIX year plan, I'm sure, and I'll go along because really, they're awesome and they let me watch them do things like play baseball and dance and be just generally along for their ride.
But I'm saying it now: some kids that I know better be gettin' those iPod's and DS's and PSP's ready because they will be accompanying me to go outlet shopping a whole hell of a lot to make up for this. Mama knows how to make these things right.