Friday, April 22, 2016


This school vacation week we took a rather fabulous journey.  It was a once in a childhood kind of trip for us, hoped for, talked about, for a long time, trying to find a sweet spot between oldest and youngest child, when everyone is old enough to remember but not too old to miss out on some of the magic.  We have been working our way through the Harry Potter books as all family read-alouds, though several of us have also read them all on our own.  But during last summer's road trip, we had gotten through many.  We never quite made it to the last book in the series.  But that's okay.  There will always be the next long drive.

I will share more about our trip as I begin to process the time and the pictures.  But, freshly back, I am struck by what each of us took from our time away, on an adventure very different from our typical family adventures.

This trip hit lots of firsts for the kids.  Beginning with their first time in a plane for some, but also our first stay for all five of us at a resorty kind of hotel, airport and theme park security checks, theme park rides, and employees in character.  Interacting with flight attendants and taxi drivers and learning how to figure out where you are and how things work.  Learning how to give privacy to people in close proximity. Going to a place that allows you to step inside a story that has, up until nowd, been entirely about others.  Finding that what you love is going to be very different from what the millions of people who have been there before you loved, from people you know who were there before you, and from each other, the small five of us.

I was lucky enough to sit with our most awe struck during the first plane ride.  We had joked about our early morning plane departure, and how it might result in someone being left Home Alone.  We remembered all the kids.  But apparently we forgot to tame our bed heads.

Are we going to go into the clouds?

The giggling brought on by the old look mom no hands trick on the airport tram.

With a quick turn around to see the drastic change of vegetation a plane ride can create.  We have seen these changes happen slowly, while driving on long car trips.  But this, getting in a box and stepping out into another world.  It was incredible. 

Another highlight?  The banana tree in our hotel's courtyard.  Seriously.  Elliott spotted the fruit on his first walk past the tree, after I had walked under that tree a dozen or more times traveling between pool and room without noticing.  

He's a good spotter, that Elliott.  But also, he has a bit of a Minion love going on.  Of course, the pronunciation of the spied banana was repeated in a Minion accent.  Incidentally, I have not laughed as hard as I did while sitting next to Elliott on the Minion Mayhem Ride, in a long...long...time.   We did that ride twice.  Because I needed to hear him giggling again.  

(OK. There was also the moment when the velociraptor tried to eat my head while we took a family photo with it.  I laughed hard then, too). 

There were the unexpected joys of firsts we could not have predicted.  And of course, there was the expected, or at least hoped for, magic.  

Seeing it all through our kids' eyes, not knowing exactly what will stick for them, what will cause anxiety, what will be so cool, who will throw themselves into an experience and who will hold back.  I think that not knowing is part of the magic of parenting for me.  Of recognizing and embracing that moment, when they turn to you, and pull you into their awe.

I got to sit next to Elliott on the late plane ride home as well.  He fell asleep before the plane left the runway and I could not wake him when the plane landed.  Eventually he sleepwalked off the plane and curled up in a chair, snoring, while we waited for our ride home.  He remembers nothing about that trip home.  The plane ride itself was no longer a first for him.  And I know his head is full of everything we saw and did together.  And just as he power-napped on a bench tucked between Hogwarts Castle and the Flight of the Hippogryph, he was doing what he needed to do, was just plain exhausted by all those firsts and all that wonder.

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