When I first became a parent, I was struck by how many firsts I encountered during the first few years of my child’s life. There was the first time I changed a diaper, gave my child a bath, took him for a haircut, dropped him off at school and so on. Some of the first times were a little bit upsetting for me: I didn’t like seeing my child cry when I gave them his first bath or his first haircut and then I was the one crying when I first dropped him off at school. Other firsts were more exciting for me–things we’d planned for and couldn’t wait for our children to experience. Seeing our children take their first steps, learning new things (numbers, letters, reading and math), and participating in an activity that didn’t require my husband or I to be in the pool or on the field with them.
How many of us have had a first event or outing planned for our child that didn’t go quite as we’d hoped?
We recently came back from our first true family vacation. Though we’ve been on trips to visit family before, this was the first time we were going to have a family vacation with just the four of us. I have been carefully preparing this trip since my oldest, now six, was about two years old. I grew up in Florida and knew we had to get the kids to Disney World in Orlando at some point. We wanted to take them when they were old enough to enjoy it and more importantly would be able to remember it: for $75 a kid, you need them to remember it!
While we’ve been planning the details of our trip for some time, we decided we wouldn’t tell the kids we were taking them to Disney World until we were closer to our vacation date. Their birthdays are close together and landed a few weeks in advance of our departure date, so we figured that would be the perfect time to tell them. The morning we decided to finally spill the beans was carefully planned. We put a pair of mouse ears at each of their places at the breakfast table, and we had the computer cued up to play a Disney video that would show them all the fun and magical things kids can experience there.
I woke the kids up with much anticipation. While I wasn’t sure what their initial reaction would be, I was expecting something along the lines of exhilaration, shrieks of joy, or at least big smiles on their faces. I got none of the above. They were mildly interested in the mouse ears, but their response to hearing the news that we were going to Disney World ranged from ”I don’t want to go!” to “That sounds boring!” This was not what I was prepared for. Years of planning down the drain! I was distraught but my husband was actually chuckling when the kids expressed their dismay at having to go.
Thankfully, once the kids started telling their friends about the trip and everyone told them how much fun they would have, they started to warm up to the idea. By the time we arrived at our hotel, Wilderness Lodge, (a great family spot) the kids were pretty excited.
In addition to this being our first family trip and our first time to Disney World, this was also our first time sleeping all four of us in one hotel room. My husband and I weren’t sure what to expect. Would the kids get any sleep? Would my husband and I? It reminded me of when the boys were infants and we were on pins and needles waiting for them to wake us up in the middle of the night. I also reflected with a great deal of gratitude on what my parents dealt with when they took my sisters and I on trips growing up. The trip and sleeping arrangements ended up going about as well as we could have hoped–we slept through the night for the most part and figured out how to share a room as a family for the first time together.
Our days at the park and in Orlando were pretty magical. There were many highlights including It’s a Small World, the Electrical Light Parade on the water, and all the fun things the kids could do at our hotel, and many firsts for my children, but also for my husband and I. We not only survived our first family trip and lived to tell the tale, but have a memory we’ll treasure forever!
What parenting firsts have been most special for you?