I started packing us today for an upcoming trip, and this has reminded me how much I HATE PACKING. Ugh! Not everyone feels that way, some people enjoy the packing experience and feel it adds to the anticipation of their trip, (which as we are all supposed to know by now, is half the fun anyway). Um, no. Packing is not part of the fun for me, and you people who enjoy packing are weirdos from another planet that I will never understand.
My kids are part of "those people" who get excited about packing, but that is because they have the mental flexibility to pack only a stuffed giraffe, some colored pencils, and maybe a tutu and call it a day, with no concern for having forgotten anything. Case in point, when we went to Missouri last summer, I asked Waylon if he wanted some help packing his suitcase but he said no, he was already finished:
In my defense, just because I do not like packing does not mean I'm not good at it. I pride myself on packing light (or as lightly as one can, anyway, for a family of five headed to the beach with babies/young children, as the case has been for us over the last several years). Also, the key word in my packing complaint is "us"; packing for only myself is a cakewalk. It's the responsibility of remembering every single item that 3.5 other individuals might need that makes me run and hide. (3.5? I came up with that because yes, Joe helps. Neither of us has stooped to the level of having me pick out his clothing. And yet, it is mostly my brain that is tasked with remembering all the 1,000 odd items, from toiletries, to kid medicines, to rain gear, to water bottles, to allergen-free food, or headphones, or whatever else the occasion calls for.)
This afternoon, I relied on the kids' excitement about packing to spur me into action. No, really - Georgia had to stay home from school due to pink eye, so I told her it would be her job to force me to begin packing. Fast forward to 3:30 p.m., me curled up on the couch somewhat exhausted, the girls employing loud music, poking/sitting on me, and walkie-talkies cranked up in my face and set to static to get me moving. It finally worked. I'll stop complaining about packing for now, because it's hard to garner sympathy for a task that by definition means I'm getting to travel. We are fortunate and lucky in that regard, but c'mon, I don't have to enjoy the packing part.
All of the dragging of my feet and required cajoling yesterday got me to thinking how amazing it is (and please forgive me for patting ourselves on the back here) that Joe and I managed to pull off a pretty cool Disney World surprise for the kids back in September. A surprise the nature of which involved me single-handedly packing everything in total secrecy, essentially under cover of darkness, since I could only work on it after putting the kids to bed each. (Have I mentioned that we went to Disney World? No? Okay, see, that's the problem with taking enormous blogging breaks. Our Disney trip was a big deal for us, something that in my head I was definitely going to immediately report on here, I just haven't found the time for it until now.)
We decided to surprise the kids for a couple reasons. First, it would be super fun! I mean, how often in life do you get surprised out of nowhere with wonderfully happy news? And how often does life present opportunities to surprise someone you love like that? So we wanted to at least try to pull off the surprise and see what happened. Second, we selfishly wanted to avoid the incessant questions about, "When are we going?" "How many more days?" "Is it tomorrow?" "Is it today?" Keep in mind, at least two of three children here still have a pretty loose grasp on the passage of time.
As luck would have it, we needed to leave for the airport at the same time that we would normally have been hopping in the car to drop Joe at the train station and the kids at school. So that's how far we pushed the charade of this being a regular old school day. I had secretly loaded our suitcases into the back of the van the night before, packed Georgia a lunch box that she didn't actually need, gotten everyone dressed for school with backpacks ready and into their car seats, the whole bit. Our plan was to start driving to school but then take an intentional wrong turn to head toward the airport instead. When the kids noticed that we were driving the wrong direction, that's when we'd tell them: WE'RE NOT GOING TO SCHOOL, WE'RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!!!!
Sounds pretty rad, right? It was, with two caveats. First off, we were never expecting immediate screams of excitement, because our kids weren't at the time 100% aware of what Disney World really meant. (Waylon especially - he had no clue.) Even for someone well aware of what going to Disney World entails, it seems reasonable to expect it to take a while for the news to sink in. The other part of the kids' reaction, which we were not so much expecting, was just how long it took them to realize that we were not driving the right direction! Funny thing, it turns out children are very trusting of their parents to transport them from Point A to Point B with no questions or doubts. I guess I was counting on Georgia to be the first to notice, but even she was finally tipped off not by the fact that we were aimlessly driving into the next town over, but by the fact I was holding up my phone prepared to video tape. All of which is my roundabout way of explaining why the video you're about to see has been heavily edited for length (and it's still long - sorry, but I have no clue how to really edit videos and therefore can't waste half my day shortening this for you). I assumed I'd have a 15 second clip that morning to easily share with my sister and the handful of friends who knew about this surprise in advance, but instead we ended up with over four minutes of boring driving video. In the end, though, it all made for a very good story. The kids have certainly enjoyed in the months since telling anyone who will listen about how their parents told them they were going to school but took them to Disney World instead. That's worth it in my book. Even with the packing.
Disney Surprise from Kate on Vimeo. (password is notrickypeopleallowed)
There you have it. And in conclusion, school secretary Mrs. Peterson was notified of the children's absence, and we managed to have a decent time at Disney despite me having forgotten to pack Roald Dahl's "The Witches".
Just for good measure, or for anyone unwilling to spend 4+ minutes of their life on the video, here are some stills taken shortly after the news had sunk in.
Crazy in love with this plan.
20-30 minutes later, a little freaked out and nervous. He came around. : )