True Confessions Of A Neurotic Disney Mom: The Adventure Continues
True Confessions Of A Neurotic Disney Mom: The Adventure Continues
My eyes pop open. It is 8:00 am. Here is where it all begins. This day has been marked on the calendar for five months. Now that it has arrived, I will finally be freed from my imprisoned state of inactivity into the uninhibited state of Disney vacation planning.
Being a Disney Vacation Club Member who is exactly seven months away from my date of arrival in Walt Disney World®, I am now within the permitted timeframe to make reservations for my family’s next vacation. We have hopes to secure a 1-bedroom villa at Disney’s Beach Club Villas. But since this particular resort is not the resort that we bought into when we joined the Disney Vacation Club, those who own it as their “home resort” have been given a four-month head start in making reservations.
Disney’s Beach Club is one of Disney’s more popular resorts due to it’s large pool and close location to Epcot. This makes securing reservations there especially difficult. I have read countless accounts online at various Disney internet boards where families have been waitlisted for months as they hope to obtain reservations, and some are actually denied in the end due to no vacancies opening up. The scenario sends chills up my spine, and I whisper a Disney wish that this will not be my family’s fate.
After everyone has been dressed and fed, the clocks strikes 9:00 am. I rush to the phone, grabbing my Disney Vacation Club Member card on the way. I sit on my bed in the privacy of my bedroom and begin to dial the memorized number. As is their custom, DD8, DS6, and DD4 follow me into my room and begin to play loudly around me. After so many years of instruction, they still have not grasped the concepts of privacy or consideration for individuals using the phone. “Quiet please,” I announce, “I am making a phone call. I need you to either be quiet or leave the room.” I am completely ignored as elevated levels of noise and activity continue to envelope me. I realize that something more earth-shattering is required to grab the attention of my small entourage. “Quiet! I am calling Mickey Mouse,” I yell. The room goes dead silent, and everything is still.
As I dial the member services number, little people gather and sit by my ankles. They are in awe, believing that their very own NDM will be soon be speaking to the Big Cheese, himself.
I listen to a pre-recorded list of options of extensions. After selecting the appropriate one, a very comforting voice greets me on the line and asks how I can be assisted. Although my nerves are wracked and I am developing a twitch as a result of my Disney’s Beach Club Villas anxiety, I do my best to sound calm and unconcerned as I explain my desire to place a reservation at this dreamy destination. The agent says that she will have to check for availability, and I am put on hold.
While I listen to muted Disney songs through the phone receiver, I feel the knots in my stomach tighten. Will we be waitlisted? How long will we be waitlisted? What will be my alternative plan if we are waitlisted?
DD4 tugs on my pant leg. “Mommy,” she sweetly petitions, “I want to talk to Mickey Mouse. Please may I talk to Mickey Mouse?” Doh! I am about to get caught in a Disney bluff, but I cleverly quip, “Oh! I am so sorry, honey. Daisy Duck answered the phone. She says that Mickey isn’t there right now.”
At that moment, the agent silences the pleasant Disney tunes by picking up the line again. “Mrs. Knopp, we do have a 1-bedroom villa available for you at Disney’s Beach Club Villas during the days you requested. Would you like me to go ahead and book your reservation?” I heave a sigh of relief; the knots in my stomach loosen; my twitch subsides. “Yes,” I confirm.
I feel another tug on my pant leg. “Mommy,” DD4 says in an adorable voice that I always find difficult to deny, “May I please talk to Daisy Duck? I really want to talk to Daisy Duck.” I wink at her to non-verbally communicate that her wish will be granted.
After the reservation has been made, the agent politely asks, “Is there anything else I can do for you today?” “Actually,” I respond, “There is something you can do for me. My four-year old daughter is standing here with me and knows that I am talking to you, Daisy Duck. She is very anxious to speak with you if you have an extra minute. Would it be alright if she said, ‘hello?’” The agent is silent for a brief second and then timidly replies, “But I don’t sound anything like a duck. I don’t know how to make my voice do that.” “That’s OK, Daisy,” I coax as I wink in reassurance to DD4, “We all know that your voice is a normal one. Only Donald’s voice sounds like a duck.” Being a good sport, the agent then agrees to speak with DD4 for who can hardly wait to take command of the phone.
“Hi, Daisy,” DD4 says in her best attempt at handling the phone with a grown-up disposition. Apparently the agent has embraced the spirit of my Disney bluff and taken the opportunity to engage my daughter beyond a simple greeting, for DD4 goes into an explanation about our Halloween party plans for the evening. After a minute of details describing our home’s festive decorations and our party’s itinerary and guest list, the conversation is still going strong. However, I sense that I should relieve the cooperative agent from this request that is surely out of the realm of her job description. I certainly don’t want to be flagged on the computer system in some way as an annoying Disney Vacation Club Member who makes bizarre demands of unfortunate agents.
I gently tell DD4 to say good-bye to Daisy, and she obediently complies. I take the receiver and express my gratitude to the agent for going above and beyond her call of duty in this matter. The agent giggles slightly and relays that everything has been her pleasure as she notes that I should call back if I find that I need any further service.
I hang up the phone with a grand smile on my face. DD8, DS6 and DD4 wait in anticipation for the results of the phone call. I announce that we will in fact be permitted to stay at Disney’s Beach Club Villas for our upcoming vacation, and we all explode into victory dances in the limited open area of my bedroom.
The primary concern of the day has been attended to, and the less important events may now have our attention. But they may only hold our focus momentarily, for very soon the details of our upcoming vacation will need to be filled in.
Can You Teach My Alligator Manners?
Over the last four years, I have gradually become dissatisfied with the irresponsible attitude that sometimes dominates our society. It seems like rather than doing what is best for civilization, the general consensus is to take the “easiest road” in most matters. The worst part is that when it comes time to “lie in the bed that was made,” no one wants to own up to the mistakes and their consequences. We hear, “It was someone else’s job” or “It was someone else’s responsibility.”
This atmosphere of job-shifting and fault-finding is disturbing to say the least, and yet we remain on this path. There is little sense of personal duty. There is little notion of accountability. There is primarily a desire to push off the consequences of “the easy way” long enough for another institution, president, generation or individual to manage.
This is especially true of our current political system. It seems that both primary political groups contribute to the corrupt mindset that plagues Washington D.C. They both appear to be apathetic as they continue seeking the “easy way out,” all the while expecting someone else to do the hard work that they were elected to do. Is it shocking that—for this very reason--I nearly wrote in “Mickey Mouse” on my presidential ballot last week? Mickey never shirks his duty.
Thank God for Walt Disney World®!It is comforting to know that there is a place that is a safe-haven for those who are weary of the “buck-passers.” Here is a realm where everyone feels a personal sense of responsibility to do his part in making society a better place. So today I suggest to the kids that we take a “breather” from our daily routine, sit at our computer and temporarily escape into Disney cyber space.
Since our vacation is still 6 ½ months away, the Disney website is the next-best-thing after physically stepping onto Disney property. The graphics and sound bites of the endless web pages are classically Disney. And because a great amount of the website is interactive, it is uniquely able to give one an immersive experience that allows an exit from immediate surroundings and entrance into the utopian albeit virtual Disney one.
DD4 insists that we investigate the Disney preschool realm. But DD8 suggests that we find something mature enough to amuse her. DS6 remains neutral since he tends to find amusement in both simple and complex content while I remain happy as long as what we do is Disney related. In an attempt to satisfy all requests, we collectively decide to watch an interactive video from “Can You Teach My Alligator Manners?” All of us gather in front of the computer screen and get ready to enjoy this adorable and instructional featurette.
Like the many other times we have watched this short show, we listen to the introductory song where Mikey explains that he has an ill-behaved alligator for a friend. If he has any hope of keeping Al, the alligator, as a pet, he must teach this reptile some manners so that Mikey’s mother can find the silly creature tolerable.
We watch on. This time Mikey finds himself in quite a predicament at a movie theatre. The film is rolling; the audience is taken in, but Al is making everyone irritable with his continuous mumbling, grunting and calling-out to the characters of the big screen. Mikey’s mom gives Mikey a disapproving glare, clearly communicating that he must get his alligator under control. Mikey, in desperation, then turns to us and implores, “Can you teach my alligator manners?”
Normally, I am eager to participate with my children when we view Mikey’s interactive segments. It is a pleasure to lend a helping hand to someone in need. Plus, there is always the bonus of personal life-lessons learned in the process. And after all, sometimes it actually does take a community to raise an alligator. But for some reason, today I do not quite hold that communal sentiment. Something seems a little off with Mikey’s immediate plea for assistance before attempting to handle the problem on his own.
Nevertheless, I oblige Mikey and respond (along with my children) that, indeed, we must select the orange square that instructs Al to remain quiet in the theatre so others can enjoy the film. We are successful in our endeavor. Al grasps the concept and adjusts his behavior accordingly. Yet, I can’t help but still feel a little bitter about being asked to manage a task that clearly belonged to Mikey.
When Al and Mikey’s movie experience is over, they prepare to leave the theatre. We then see that Al has made a disgusting mess around his seat. Wrappers and stray pieces of popcorn abound, and he is about to toss his half-full cup of soda on the floor. Mom is ticked-off, and Mikey is overwhelmed with the task that is before him. But rather than pushing up his sleeves and getting to work, Mikey immediately cries out to us for help and expects us to show his alligator the proper way to act. The frustration bubbles up inside of me.
Mikey is “passing the buck!” He has joined the ranks of parents who expect the school system to discipline their children. He has come alongside the guardians who pawn off moral instruction to institutions like churches or other benevolent non-profit organizations. Mikey now resembles Corporate America who looks to the “establishment” for provision or a “bail-out” of some kind as well as the apathetic politicians who avoid the personal responsibility of their elected positions. This mentality is pushing my buttons.
This is Mikey’s mom. This is Mikey’s alligator. This is Mikey’s problem. Why should others be expected to manage this affair while Mikey takes a back-seat on the matter? We don’t reap the benefits of having a pet alligator when all the work is done. Mikey does. In addition, it isn’t right that the community should suffer the consequences of an ill-behaved reptile when Mikey shirks his personal duty. The responsibilities of training this animal were given to Mikey when he desired to pursue pet ownership, not to the rest of us. Therefore—with all this in mind--I conclude Mikey should take some more initiative and try to teach his alligator manners on his own.
We are once again presented with a blue square and an orange square illustrating what we, the audience, can choose to teach Al during this instructional opportunity. “Can you teach my alligator manners,” Mikey asks in a sweet but manipulative way. I feel something “snap” in my brain. “NO,” I scream at the computer screen, “DO IT YOURSELF, YOU LAZY KID!”
Stunned by my outburst, all three of my children turn and stare at me wide-eyed. Apparently the frustration I hold towards Mikey and his lack of personal responsibility is entirely my own. I suddenly become acutely aware that I am way too invested in this brief little skit.
I look around at my shocked companions and sheepishly apologize for my unexpected eruption of disgust. “Perhaps,” I propose, “It is time to watch something less provoking like ‘Choo Choo Soul’.”
Two-piece or not two-piece
November 18, 2008
This time of year is always overwhelming for our family. DH works steadily around the clock at his office to meet pressing deadlines at the end of November. This leaves me to solely manage the affairs of our home and children. Therefore, I am always on the brink of insanity in November, but these past seven days have been unusually stressful.
Last week I quit my job due to a precarious situation that was worsening in nature daily. Since then I have been tense as I search for a new source of income to pay for our Disney Vacation Club membership. Our failing economy hasn’t done much for my job search or my nerves with the “doom and gloom” that is now a regular part of the news, but this is not the full extent of my recent anxiety.
My 32nd birthday was this past week. The occasion should have been a joyful one, but it was quickly overshadowed the following day by mournful circumstances. DH’s beloved grandfather passed away. This man was considered a great pillar in the community that we reside in and touched many lives, so not only is our family dealing with a great loss but we are also expecting to host hoards of out-of-town family and friends as they arrive for the multiple memorial services.
I look at the disarray of my home, and I feel the muscles in my neck tighten with stress. I am a mom who homeschools, manages the health issues of three children with a medical condition, and serves as primary administrator of all Disney matters in our home. For this reason, I simply have not been able to keep up with house cleaning during DH’s absence. After all, if you put me in a position where I have to choose between freshly laundered clothes or perfectly planned advanced dinner reservations in Epcot®, I will choose the advanced dinner reservations every time.
It is perfectly clear in my mind that choosing to spend my limited amount of time in this manner has been wise. But as I look at the dirty underwear strewn across the house by DD4, who invariably strips en route to the potty, I hesitate to believe that my impending guests will feel the same.
The task of cleaning a home that has been neglected for at least a month, carrying my regular load of responsibilities and hosting a nearly continuous flow of guests is a thought that makes my knees buckle and my forehead wrinkle in tension. It is obvious that there is only one thing to be done. There is an immediate need for relaxation.
I make my way to the kids’ bathroom for a hot, relaxing bath. Their large bathroom with double sinks and a full-size tub is quite roomier than the claustrophobic outhouse and stand-up shower attached to my bedroom. So I have been known to steal away from time to time into the relaxation of a warm, bubble bath that the kids’ restroom can provide.
I walk into the frigid, tiled room and make my preparations. The lighting is dimmed as I turn off the overhead lights and put a match to numerous candles on the counter. A pleasant aroma fills the air when a few drops of essential oils are mixed into the hot water filling the tub. The soft and soothing touch of bubbles envelopes my skin as I step into the warm, liquid abyss that awaits. And my whole body relaxes when I hit “play” on my CD player that emits various Disney tracks and mentally transports me to my paradise on Earth, Walt Disney World®.
It proves to be a pleasant time. I have been able to soak for half an hour with interruptions from DD8, DS6, and DD4 coming only at intervals of every five minutes. In comparison to other attempts at a relaxing bath that have abruptly ended due to the sudden onset of sibling enmity among my precious offspring, this endeavor must be considered a success.
On this particular occasion, though, I realize upon my emergence from the suds that I have forgotten to bring my change of clothes with me. So I wrap one of the kids’ bath towels around me as best I can and scurry down the hallway to my room. Unfortunately, DD8 catches a glimpse of this happenstance and begins giggling. Because I fail to see the comical object of her amusement, I question, “What?” In between giggles, DD8 manages to explain, “Your bottom and the top of your legs jiggle when you walk.”
Now I have always been one to appreciate the honesty of children. They are truthful even when it hurts, and—in my opinion—that is a rare gift these days. But on this particular occasion, I become a little alarmed. We currently have reservations at Disney’s Beach Club Villas. This resort is renowned for its pool that sprawls across an acre and features an impressive waterslide, lazy river, and sand-covered floor. It is my guess that we will spend a noteable amount of time there, and I will need to wear my bathing suit (which happens to be a two-piece).
I give DD8 a troubled glance, disappear into the selcusion of my bedroom and shut the door behind me. Admittedly, I have entered my fourth decade of life and given birth to three children on the way. A little wear-and-tear is to be expected, but in my harried way of functioning, I have failed to stop and notice any spectacularly embarrassing changes in my body. I slowly unwrap myself in front of the mirror to further examine my once-shapely bottom. And there it is, the faintest sign of cellulite that does, indeed, jiggle when I step. I gasp at the sight. How can this be! I feel like I am having an outer-body experience. Here I am in my own skin, yet I am surely looking at someone else’s.
I console myself with the reminder that the lower half of my two-piece swimsuit resembles tight-fitting shorts rather than underwear briefs. Perhaps this will hinder any jiggling from taking place while I am poolside, and I can still feel confident and comfortable when at Mickey’s beach resort.
I sigh and manage to put on my undergarments before I hear DD4 wrestle with my doorknob outside in the hallway. Another five minutes has passed, and she is about to burst in the room--right on schedule! Once she has wriggled the knob enough to trigger the door’s release, DD4 unabashedly enters and inquires, “Mom?”
Caught half-dressed and struggling to get jeans over my abundant theighs, I do my best to act as if nothing is improper about this scene. But DD4, who has now set eyes on her nearly naked mom, stops and stares. She has apparently forgotten the original reason for her intrusion and is lost in thought. Finally she asks, “Mommy, is there a baby in your tummy?” I stand up straight in horror, leaving my jeans around my theighs where they seem content to stay. Did she just say what I think she said?
It occurs to me that in addition to not taking time to examine my ample rear-end, I have not recently bothered to scrutinize my abdomen either. I shut my eyes tightly, quickly pray that I can still find my toes, open my eyes and glance down. I am happy to find that my toes are still in view, but due to a now mildly bloated belly and enlarged theighs, I am unable to see my knees. The last time I dealt with this scenario, I was smiling from ear to ear because I was carrying DD4 in my first trimester. But there is no smile today. In fact, the wrinkled forehead and tense muscles that my bath had vanquished have now returned.
“No, sweetheart,” I reply in a deflated tone, “Mommy doesn’t have a baby in her tummy.” She considers my response momentarily and then remarks, “Yea, that’s not a baby. That’s a jellyfish!” With that DD4 makes her exit, giving me five more minutes of solitude to analyze the implications of her latest observation.
This is terrible! My two-piece may be able to minimize the jiggling of my dierreire, but it is completely incapable of disguising abdominal jellyfish. What is a Mickey-loving, thirty-something, mother-of-three to do? I briefly entertain the thought of canceling our entire vacation, but the heinous nature of that sacriligious act becomes immediately apparent. There must be another way, but the answer fails to come to me.
As I sit on my well-cushioned rump and my jelly-like stomach rolls over my underwear’s waistline, I squarely look at the situation before me. A mere ten minutes ago I had happily washed all my cares away and felt ready to conquer anything. But somehow I am now back at my starting point, feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, angst-ridden and in need of relaxation. However, I will need to find an alternative method to soothe my knotted muscles and bruised self-esteem because it is certain that I will not be indulging in another bath anytime soon.