Saturday, March 5, 2011

Disney World and the Family Constitution

As some of you know hubby has started a new job. Yes, it is going well and he is quite pleased. But as with every move there happens to be boxes full of paraphernalia that you had stowed away never to be seen or heard of again. Hubby had nine of such boxes delivered to the house last night. It is very interesting reviewing not only years and years of his work and family pictures, but papers he had inherited from his father's office. (His father had left everything in his office to hubby in his Will.) It has been quite the jog down memory lane this morning.

One of the more interesting memories is a copy our Family Constitution. But first a little context:

While staycations have become the norm in this house over the past several years, before that time, we used to take vacations in August. No not to the woods of Vermont or to Canada, but we would go to places that were less expensive, like Florida. Namely we chose to go to Disney World in the middle of August. I know, we had to have our heads examined. By the way, it was hubby's idea to go to Disney. He had never been as a child and always wanted to go. The boys at this time were 13  and 10.

We had already been to Universal when the boys were younger (10 and 7) because of a convention that hubby needed to go to at the time, so there was no thought to even move themeparks when we realized that Disney was a bit of a mistake. In fact the boys didn't really like Universal, except for the mardi gras parade where they collected beads, and there was an obsession developed to collect stamps from each Island of Adventure "themed" area in the Universal passport that they were given upon entering the themepark. It really wasn't a great trip.

Honestly, we had not given it one seconds thought to prepare the boys. We had bought general travel books and had them look at everything, not really figuring that they just might be overwhelmed by all the sensory stimuli. We did try to plan which rides we would go on when and we bought the fast passes so we never had to wait on line, but after the Jurassic Park ride the boys had had enough...dinosaurs they liked, scary unexpected waterfalls, not so much. (Now when we went it was before there was a huge internet presence for anything and quite frankly no one, not one teacher, not one therapist and not one doctor told us they might get overstimulated. They were doing so well at everything that it never even dawned on us that the boys were be so overwhelmingly obsessive either.) Luckily we did take the youngwoman who we hired as a babysitter/friend/nanny for the boys as an extra pair of hands and eyes. So one day I left the boys with hubby and we, the nanny and me, went through the park on all the rides that noone wanted to go on. Without the children and hubby, we had a blast....

Now back to Disney...Honestly it would not really have been all that bad, except hubby doesn't do well in the heat and was quite cranky the entire time. The boys also didn't want to go on any of the roller coaster rides (they tend to get sick from certain types of movement, we tried the Space Shuttle Ride where they simulate G-forces and collegeman was sick for hours), so no Rockin' Rollercoaster and no Space Mountain, and since they were too old for what they considered the "baby rides" we basically walked around and stood under the water misters. Rides that had impressed when I was a child, like the Haunted Mansion or Pirates of the Caribbean, in the modern age of technology were just boring for tweens. We did go to Epcot (but the gaming pavilion was also disappointing as it was for very old systems) and visited the different country exhibits (that I liked because they had a French quarter and a brasserie, my favorite kind of food.) We did enjoy the mini-golf and the Blizzard Beach water park very much, the other water park , Typhoon Lagoon, was just too young for them as well. They did not like the Magic Kingdom, again Disney cartoons were not their thing at all (tween boys are just not into Cinderella's Castle) and we never made it to the Animal Kingdom. They did get to pilot the monorail though, so that was fun. In truth we did the parks backwards. We should have done Disney when they were young and Universal during their tween years.

Unfortunately what really happened was that we actually spent an inordinate amount of time arguing and griping at each other, either because we were all too hot, couldn't agree on the rides, were disappointed in the technology and quite frankly were just underwhelmed. Looking back at the trip, if we had just gone to Blizzard Beach waterpark everyday it would have been fine, but I don't think your ticket allowed you to do that.

So here you have it. Yes, folks we are the only people in the history of the planet Earth to not be happy at the Happiest Place on Earth. Go figure. However, nature intervened and provided its own sort of amusement park ride for us, hurricane Charley. It was when they closed down the park, we were stuck in Florida and informed that we had to stay in our rooms that the family had the best time. The boys hunkered down in the bathroom (it was located toward the center of the building, best fortified and away from the windows), watching dvds on the dvd player and eating food from the concierge buffet. Oh did I mention, that when we got to Disney they had messed up our room reservation, so they upgraded us to the Concierge floor. (Oohhlalal, fancy shmancy)...Hubby kept checking the weather and going out to the Concierge center court and keeping everyone abreast of the news, the boys watched cartoon dvds until they got so tired they went to sleep and I read a book. It was nice, because we had stopped fighting for a few minutes.

Now this is where the Family Constitution came into play. Collegeman, always the very smart, precocious one in the family, decided that he had had enough of the arguing and decided in between cartoons, while they sat in the bathroom, to write out the rules on how we were going to handle the family infighting about what to do and where to go...

Family Constitution -August 2004

We hold these truths to be self-evident that all family members are created equal.

The legislative branch, which consists of “mom” and “dad”, will agree on a decision, which involves the entire family.

The judicial branch, which consists of “collegeman” will decide which decisions are constitutional and which ones are not.

The executive branch which consists of “highschoolboy” will veto any decision or pass them on to the judicial branch.

If there’s a dispute between branches everything will be settled by either a coin toss or a game of rock-paper-scissors.


(this of course was way before, rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock, which is what they use now)

Well, when hubby found that Family Constitution you should have seen the smile on his face and how his eyes lit up. Honestly the bad memories of Disney all disappeared and only the remembrance of his oldest son taking the bull by the horns and trying to resolve a family issue came to mind. That youngman has been quite bright from the git-go, a believer in law, mediation and civil discourse (heck recently because he didn't like how his relationship with HSB was progressing he decided that they should seek joint counseling, which has actually worked). We are gong to have that Constitution framed. It is quite the piece of family history and something we will always cherish. 

{By the way, I think I am going to send it to some state legislatures and even Congress. Maybe it will give the grown-ups an idea of how to problem solve. Heck, if an autistic 13 and 10 year old can figure out how to fix their disagreements, I would think these adults might be able to...nah who am I kidding...these adults would argue about the order in rock, paper, scissors...}

 Well, to make a long story even the end of the Disney adventure, we were given an extra day at the Park. Besides the fact that no one could get out of the airport for several days, Disney gave everyone back the time when the Parks were closed because of the weather.We chose to go to the waterpark, of course. Disney for the most part was unharmed. All the Parks had been built to hurricane standards. It was amazing though to see the damage done to the area after that hurricane. The palmtrees, had been pulled out by their roots and lay all over the road and the immediate vicinity looked like a bomb went off. But surprisingly enough, my stinky sweaty sneakers, that I had put out on the porch right before the hurricane hit, were still there in the morning. Apparently the smell even frightened a category 2 hurricane...

Until next time,


For tips  on traveling to Disney or Universal with a special needs child, start here: