Fall break is always an opportune time to take a vacation. The stresses of summer and starting back to the school routine often makes life too busy. The rains dry up and trees start to turn brown. Allergies happen. Federal budget standoffs. Elections on the even years. The fall is a tumultuous time. I always appreciate something that makes me take pause and enjoy my family. This year that something has been a trip to Disney World.
It has been an amazing trip. There have been moments here and there that are blog worthy and I will share them soon but overall… amazing. I think the part I have enjoyed the most is the waiting in line.
Maybe not exactly the waiting as much as the forced interaction. The pause. The conditions that make us stand or sit with one another for hours on end and share ourselves. Closeness as a family is found in the spaces between activities. Discussions on the car ride to school or right before bed. Most of the time we try to fill empty space with distractions. We avoid closeness in the day-to-day. This week has been different and I have enjoyed it.
A couple of things have reminded me how short of a time that we have with our kids while they are kids.
Jane is ten and growing into her own independent person. She is starting to rebel a little to establish her identity. She is being moody and opinionated at times. She has also insisted on being my partner on scary rides and has held my hand more in the last three days than during the entire last two years. I have enjoyed it.
Lady Bug is four and is at the magic age of being able to walk everywhere without a stroller. I am beyond excited that we have not had to use a stroller but, even so, she has grown more than I like to admit. During a live performance of The Lion King she sat in my lap and danced with excitement to Hakuna Matata. Later, during Can You Feel The Love Tonight, she turned and gave me a big smile and a kiss. Then she snuggled against my chest for the rest of the show.
My mind started to wander away from the show. I thought about her sweet gesture and how long it had been since my girls had offered me kisses. I put them all to bed every night. I tuck them in, give them a hug and kiss them on the forehead. When they were really little they would say, “Daddy give me kisses” and pucker their entire face.
Then someday it just stopped.
It had to happen sometime but I thought I would have noticed. I thought I would have protested. But here I am with four beautiful girls who are growing up, up, and away.
So, as I sat watching The Lion King, I felt a tear at the edge of my eye. I thought about how few of those moments may be left. I thought about the cycle. In the background, Simba became king and the performers sang Circle of Life. The metaphor of the moment was enough to make me want to shoot Simba and mount him on my wall. To stop the progression. To avoid the inevitable.
One day Dad will be replaced by a new lion. I hope he loves her enough to wear matching shirts at Disney and carry every item known to man in a backpack while sweating in the ninety degree heat.
I have tried my best to enjoy our moments this week. To capture the parts I can carry and to soak in the ones that pass like a cool breeze on a hot day. I hope to remember the smiles of wonder and joy. The holding hands so we don’t get lost in the crowd. The hugs when they were tired of walking or scared of an uncertain ride. More than that, I hope they remember.
I hope they read my words later and always know that the magic isn’t in the rides. It’s the person in the seat next to you.
And to Noni and Map, this post is for you – Thanks for passing that on!
-Underdaddy to the rescue.