Last week was winter break for us. This is the first time that we have had a full week – our winter break is usually just 2 days. I had some rollover vacation time that I wasn’t able to use last year, so I took the first week off from work that I have taken consecutively in years. A couple of notes from our week:
10 days is too long of a vacation for Mickey
Dance competitions are a whole new world
Run Disney events may not be something Mickey is cut out for, but Minnie clearly is
Momma is exhausted
To begin our break Minnie had her very first dance competition in Chattanooga, TN. We attended a competition locally last year to support our school, but two hours and Mickey’s head was ready to explode from the loud music and chaos. For that reason, we opted to have Mickey stay with Grandma and Grandpa. The plan was that we would drive up Friday evening, compete Saturday and Sunday. Sunday evening I would leave Minnie with teammates and I would drive back down to pick up Mickey for a day of sightseeing with the dance team on Monday. That way he missed the long hours of competition but still got to do the fun stuff.
The competition was….interesting? I am not sure what to say. We had fun. Minnie and her team danced well – as did the older girls. This was a large national competition and we are a small dance studio. The other teams were….I don’t know…glitzier, more dedicated to competition, etc. Our school offers competition, but the main focus is dance – not competition. Our teams rehearse once a week during an hour long class and each of the girls take additional classes in ballet, jazz, contemporary and/or hip hop. So, competition is just a bit of what we do. The costumes, the production values, the scenery, etc. were almost all significantly more extensive than we are used to. The mini team, which Minnie is on, placed top 8th overall – out of 23. They weren’t expected to place. Production (which Minnie also dances in) also came in 8th. So, we felt pretty good about that. We just felt a bit out of our league.
On Sunday, I picked up Mickey as planned – after rave reviews from Grandma and Grandpa on how well behaved he was(!). I drove back to TN and Monday morning a group of us took in the sights in Chattanooga. We drive through Chattanooga each trip to Indiana, but the kids had never spent any time there, so this was exciting. We did Ruby Falls (and discovered that Mickey is claustrophobic). We did Rock City, even with Mickey’s fear of heights, he thought it was kind of cool. And we did the incline railway. Fun was had – sights were seen and we left Monday evening exhausted.
On Tuesday morning we left for Disney. This would be our longest trip to date. We have long discovered that Mickey does best in 4 day increments. But, we had the time so we thought we would give it a shot. Tuesday night we ate at T-Rex in Disney Springs, which Mickey had been anxious to try (Minnie and I ate there with friends a couple of years ago). Wednesday through Sunday we were in the parks. The kids also ran their first Run Disney race (kids run – Mickey mile). Mickey had talked of little else for weeks. He had even convinced himself that he was going to win (reality doesn’t always have a place in Mickey’s thought process – he isn’t a runner, he hadn’t trained and he had no idea what the run was all about). The morning of the race though, he lost his mind – anxiety got to him, fear that he couldn’t complete the race, that he wouldn’t get his medal, etc. As we arrived at the event, his anxiety continued to amp up until I was sure a meltdown was in our future. He insisted on lining up at the front of the corral, but complained that people were pushing him and getting too close. I suggested he move toward the back and he said he couldn’t win from back there. I told him there was no winner, just completion and he yelled at me. Then the run started 10 minutes late, and every minute that ticked by was agony for me and Mickey – as he was fighting to hold it together.
When they finally started, I could only hope that he would make it and I headed to the finish line and the anxiety started to get to me. What if he melted down? What if he fell or someone knocked into him? He was so on edge, I wasn’t confident in his coping skills. This is my life – worrying about how he is coping, all while trying to get him to expand his comfort zone. Well, Minnie came in well before Mickey and I grew more concerned. 3 long minutes after her finish ticked by and then I finally saw Mickey round the track to the finish. He was walking and red faced (it was very hot out), but when he saw the finish he picked up the pace and jogged in – hi-fiving Minnie Mouse on the way. He cried when I got to him and said it was awful. But, you know what? He did it. He wore that medal for the next 3 days – he was so proud. So, I am glad he did it. I am glad I didn’t let him talk himself out of it. I am glad I didn’t let my anxiety – because of his anxiety – let me pull him. He wore his shirt to school yesterday and proudly told his class of his accomplishment. He isn’t sure if he wants to do more RunDisney runs, but I don’t care if he does or doesn’t. He tried something new, he worked through tons of triggers, he utilized coping skill after coping skill and he finished. Here he is showing Buzz his medal.
That is kind of a metaphor for our week. Saturday afternoon and Sunday were tough for him at the parks too. He had been out of routine for way too long, but he had also set a goal of 30 characters he wanted to meet and get autographs from. I tried to help him stick with his plan, but we had to abandon a bit Saturday late afternoon when he was just unable to cope anymore. So, we formulated a new plan to meet his goal Sunday morning. Then I got a phone call that my beloved Godmother had unexpectedly passed away Saturday evening, which put an additional damper on the trip. But, still we we ended the week with 31 individual characters and autographs. He was thrilled. He was also so far beyond done that it was a rough trip home. Minnie had been sick for part of the week and Mickey was just in a foul mood. But, it is Disney and that is their happy place – even when one is sick and one is cranky. They had a blast. We were all exhausted as we headed back for school/work yesterday.
Minnie, my mom and I are headed to Northern Indiana Thursday night for the services for my Godmother. I am not brave enough yet to fly with Mickey and he said he isn’t ready to try. My brother can’t be alone, so Mickey will stay with my dad and brother. This will be Minnie’s first plane ride, and though she knows the reason that we are going is sad, she is pretty excited about the plane ride. My Godmother was a larger than life character with a booming laugh and a sense of humor that couldn’t be rivaled. Unfortunately, my kids never got to meet her, so they aren’t feeling the loss other than to know that I am sad and that my mother has lost her best friend of 50 years. It is interesting to note that I learned my very first dirty joke from her (unknowingly – I was eavesdropping when she told it to my mom and it stuck – even if I didn’t fully understand it at the time). Even more interesting is that it is a Disney joke – so I did find some humor in the fact that I was at Disney World when her daughter called to tell me the news.
This is me, my parents and my Godparents at my Christening