The cruise trip

I woke up early enough that I have a prayer of getting this down before the kids wake up. I’ll hurry.

The cruise was fun. The most obnoxious part was my fault and that was related to just how many appointments we needed to have before the vow renewal. That got really old because we kept finding out “You have an appointment in 45 minutes. Stand around and wait.” And in order to get my hair done I had to go in for a pre appointment. And after the pre appointment she wanted me to go find internet (we didn’t have a phone or a computer between us) and get pictures because she wasn’t comfortable winging it from my description. That was the big fuss between us and Disney.

If that is the fuss… it was an easy trip. We adults didn’t get enough sleep because we were up until 11 or 12 every night and we were up before 7 most days.

I should describe the ceremony day. It was placed on my friend’s birthday which kinda sucked. I’m sorry about that. I got my hair done before my friends, which was sorta sad because I didn’t get to hang out and chat with anyone before the ceremony. Noah and I helped each other get dressed (we will do so lots in the future… might as well start then). He went upstairs and I… stood around my room alone for a long time. Eventually the coordinator came and got me and put me in the elevator that was being held all fancy-like for me. (The only elevator on the boat that goes to the top deck.)

It’s a small room called the Overlook. There is a fabulous view. I said I was cool with the piano player just doing Disney songs. I’m not going to fuss about that part. Bonus Daughter got to be the flower girl, my girls loved their entrance moments (hilarity), and I felt like an idiot trying to be formal. It was funny. The opening of the ceremony was the Disney standard non-denominational ceremony for vow renewals. They’ve got that down pat.

We interrupted to do our own vows. (Afterwards the piano player said they were the most real vows he had ever heard. It was kinda funny.) Our vows were… very us. We are careful to promise what we can deliver on. After that it was funny for us to take the rings off our fingers and hand them across to do the Disney-branded-ring-exchange. It was cute. The pictures are fun. I’m particularly charmed by some of the pictures of me with the kids. Because I would be. I like lots of the pictures with me and Noah. It was really fun to gussy up and take pictures.

Our buddy took our kids overnight. Which was rough on his only child who isn’t use to disruptive twerps making noise (aka my kids). Gah. We are so obnoxiously loud. Thank you for suffering for us.

It was nice to have a night in the room alone.

We ate at the sit down restaurant once and otherwise we lived at the buffet for breakfast and lunch. After the first few days were a sugarpalooza I exercised my fascist control tendencies and the children had to eat vegetables and fruit before protein before deciding if they had room left for sugar. Because I like to believe I have some influence on these things, I want to point out that my kids never had a serious temper tantrum. They got enough sleep, rest, and exercise that when I was all, “You know we have to take care of our bodies–vacation or not.” They nodded and agreed I was right.

We didn’t manage to overlap with our friends much. We had breakfast one morning with the dad/kid duo and otherwise we saw folks at dinner. That was a bit hard for me. We just couldn’t get on a schedule to spend time together. The one time Noah walked off to have fun with the other dad I tried to join them after a bit and couldn’t find them. So I just… didn’t have adult hangout time on the boat outside of dinner.

But I liked the boat. I tended to avoid the big crowds so I wasn’t in the pool much during the day. We enjoyed the water slide that goes over the side of the boat. I went on that with youngest child a bunch. I read a huge fat book. I rested. I guess I got what I was there to get. I didn’t sleep enough, but I definitely rested my body from my normal frenetic working pace. That was great.

We tried out the Disney version of a fancy pants tea party. I never ever need to pay for it again. I make as good of tea food. It was mostly a small show with two folks doing songs from Beauty and the Beast with a doll and charm bracelet/necklace an visits from Princesses. We are really spoiled with all our local tea houses in the bay area. The food on the boat just wasn’t impressive and given how we feel about tea as a part of our social rituals… we want good tea food. Not to mention that one of my kids snapped the head off the doll just a day or two later. So this effectively massively expensive doll… yeah. It wasn’t spectacular.

Mostly the kids sat there with cupcakes with a giant pile of frosting. There was 2 or 3 times as much frosting as cupcake. This was the big deal. Yeah…. we’ll pass. We do better tea parties at home.

I’m going to preen a bit about that. Although I don’t perform as Mrs Potts.

And I’m going to look forward to giving a tea party after this damn remodel is over. I’ve been to tea parties from coast to coast and in other countries. I know what makes a good tea party and mostly… I can do it well.

Sometimes I feel quite agog over the skills I have picked up this lifetime. I never thought I’d be this damn prissy. I can coax a whole room full of wild children through tea party manners so they practice their fine motor skills and etiquette. This is my idea of a good time.

What happened to me?

I don’t know, but I’m having fun.

My kids spent some time in day care… but not a lot. They wanted to hang out with us. Even when they went they usually didn’t stay long. (Youngest child skipped one dinner and that was fine with me. They eat in a more casual environment at kid care and I understand needing a break from manners.)

I strongly suspect that is part of how I get such good manners from my children. I understand that it is a performance and that they need breaks. I coax it, watch the performance and then give notes; then I pat them on the head and encourage them to let loose during off times. I’m stage managing them.

It isn’t the relationship everyone wants to have with their kids, but it kinda is what I’m doing with my kids. Recently a friend and I were discussing manipulation. They were expressing that they aren’t a fan of it. I said I manipulate people. That’s why I’m such a good teacher. They said I don’t manipulatemanage or guide them. (Emphasis mine.)

I giggled. Yes, I’m such an intensely good manipulator that people will find other ways of describing and defining it so that they can justify it. Yup. And yes, I am manipulating people basically all the time. I want to cause people to have positive feelings around me and I am an intense, difficult person. I carefully select from an internal menu of possible personality configurations and decide which elements are most likely to cause this person to have positive feelings. I have quite a range.

That’s manipulation. I’m not mean spirited about it. I don’t think I’m being “phony”. I’m being selective about how I manifest in front of people because there are real consequences to not being careful. I’ve paid the price of not filtering. I’m going to god damn filter for the rest of my life and I don’t feel ashamed. Yes, I manipulate people.

I mean you can try to put a fancier word on it to justify it so it doesn’t sound bad because people don’t like the word manipulate… but I try to be honest here. This is where I drop my filters and just tell the truth.

Yes. I manipulate people.

I have the potential to traumatize people every day. I have an overtly forceful personality and a host of topics that are normal and casual for me that could hurt people all day long. I’m very careful how I talk to people. I don’t see it as bad. I see it as trying to learn how to meet people at the level they can meet me at. I get through life by having fairly defined sub groupings of personality traits that I understand that others can handle. How do I decide that people can handle them? I test them in the field, of course.

There are days I can’t muster up the bandwidth to do a good job in choosing. If I have to be social on those days I tend to stand in the corner and not talk much. Like a clock that hasn’t been wound. It isn’t fixed to go in the proper groove so it just… stands there doing nothing. Of course on those days I take breaks from the corner to go find somewhere private and cry for a while. Then I find a corner again.

It is as predictable as weather.

On the trip Noah was reading me The Diamond Age out loud. The kids listened to some of it. Eldest child asked me, after hearing a section on tricky people, why a certain uncle doesn’t come around anymore. I was more honest than I have been in the past. I said, “He believes a few things and wants the right to do things that I don’t think he should do. So I asked him to stop coming around.” “Like what?”

Deep sigh. “Well he believes that all children must be submissive to adults. Remember what submissive means? No? It means you must do as you are told. You must be obedient.”

My kiddo flat out said, “Fuck that!”

I couldn’t have said it better, sweetie.

I continued, “He believed it, and he believed that when you turn 18 it is ok for him to ask you for sex.”

She sputtered. “But but… he’s our uncle, and he’s olllllllllllllld.”

In that moment I felt vindicated. Yes. I can do this. I can teach this. I can win.

My children will not grow up thinking that incest is normal or acceptable.

Even though my family teaches that. I can teach something different. My children understand that they own their bodies. They can kiss who they want when they want. It is up to them to decide. When they grow up and are ready for sex… I’m very confident they are going to be able to figure that out. These kids will point out if you guilt trip them and say stop it. They will probably not grow up to tolerate pestering.

They may end up a statistic because a man feels enraged by not getting their attention.

That’s a real worry in this world. Toxic masculinity is a real problem. I’m not saying every man is like this. I’m saying there are some men who are poisoned by their own beliefs about what being a man is.

Yes yes there are problematic women too. Can I go back to blathering about my vacation now?

After the cruise we stayed in an Airbnb in Orlando with the worst mattresses ever. Oh god my back hurt. And we spent a horrifying amount of money. The rental van was hit and got a big ding in the bumper. That was $500 extra. Oh yay. Universal Studios and Legoland together… I’m not going to admit how much that was. And mostly… it wasn’t worth the money. I didn’t like Legoland Florida for the same reasons I don’t like the World. It’s too damn big and spread out and hot and not shaded and… It’s a concrete oven.

Orlando, I think we need to break up. Ok, Potter stuff (we only saw Diagon Alley–I wasn’t up for paying for an extra park to see Hogsmeade although in retrospect given that we paid for express and could have done that instead… ahh hindsight.) was fantastic. Mostly I’m not into Universal’s theming or visual appeal. It’s ugly. Diagon Alley wasn’t labeled. You had to just… walk into a random building. It was beautiful. They air conditioned the shit out of this little place so you felt like you walked into England. (This is terrible for global warming. They air condition the outdoors in Florida enough to feel like England.) The buildings were beautiful. I hear they hired imagineers to get the look right. It is perfectly dilapidated yet functional and sturdy. Even the colors are just right. The shops are staffed with appropriately wacky people with funny voices and odd gaits. I don’t know if they are acting or if they just hired people with a variety of disabilities that result in different gaits. If so, I think that is awesome.

I sound like a mean bastard. People were real. In the variety of manifestations that is usually hidden or minimized. I don’t mean funny voices to be mean. I mean they sounded like a group of witches and wizards who have been allowed to grow up not hearing voices on tv they are supposed to sound like.

In most of life if someone has a very high or squeaky voice,they try to minimize it in some way. Here, they were the greater at the door and very prone to speaking a lot. It was delightful.

The food was quite good as well. The butterbeer was awesome. We are going to have to make that. But the price… unbelievable. I was kind of sick to my stomach all day. It wasn’t worth the price.

The best part of the Orlando leg was the grown ups hanging out in the kitchen getting drunk and playing Guillotine. That was hilarious and fun. Vero Beach was fun. The kids got to feel a warm ocean. Noah and I dove through waves we maybe shouldn’t have been playing in. The sea was pretty rough. We enjoyed the pool. Then we had a day in the room to rest then we came home.

That was pretty much our summer vacation.

Ok, Eldest Child would not stop yelling at her seatmate (yeah yeah, he was playing in a pestering way) so I told her she had one more warning before she was grounded the next day. Of course he pestered again so she had to yell at him.

We talked a lot about what the options really had been. We came up with lists. I think that next time… she’ll remember that she has options.

Am I always nice? No. I follow through on what I threaten so I’m not always nice. But… the day in her room wasn’t that bad. She did come out when she wanted to put something away. I spent a bunch of the day visiting in the doorway. We don’t really isolate for time out. Isolation hurts. But I will limit your movement a lot. Why? Because as you’re stuck there all day I’ll talk to you over and over about what your other options in that moment were. Yes, it is Monday morning quarterbacking. I know.

But you know what else I know? We are going to be on a lot of planes in her life. I know she’s flat encouraged me to have more kids and she’s going to have to deal with little pests. This is a problem that will come up again many times. I feel like making sure she remembers this time will pay off.

I gave her a solid dozen warnings before I said, “Ok I’m done. If you yell again you are spending tomorrow in your room.”

dozen forking warnings.

I get to have a limit. I also moved her from her spot so she couldn’t be near her buddy any more and she was near a parent. It means I spent the rest of the flight unable to see anyone I knew. It really didn’t suck for me.

We all got through it jim-dandy-fine. We want to stop traveling for a bit. (Uhm it turns out we are going to Las Vegas because we had vacation points to use or lose because some folks changed plans earlier in the trip and… unless someone else wants to go to Las Vegas? I could change the name on the reservation if someone else wanted to go…Oct 16-19 I think? I’m in the back yard in the dark and the paper is inside…)

Anyway! We are not traveling in 2017. Not even to see the cool comet. Hmmm. Maybe the trip to Las Vegas could overlap with us not having a toilet in the house. That would be awesome.

I guess that is how I spent my summer vacation/tenth anniversary.

3 thoughts on “The cruise trip

  1. Noah

    Do *you* have the papers with our vows on them? I’m starting to worry that I can’t find mine.

    As far as Harry Potter and the cost? You’ll have seen that forever. You’ll know a little better what doing that right is like. Much like the tea party — you’re not paying for a thing, or even an experience. You’re paying to know, forever, that if you get the best people in the world together and have them do that for a group of children, that’s what that looks like (and that, in this case, you’re unquestionably playing on their level or higher.) Legoland? Eh, there we just paid to find out that we wished we hadn’t and that we shouldn’t again. Alas, that happens too.

  2. Blacksheep

    We toured the Harry Potter sets at the studio in England and it was super cool. Butterbeer was stupid expensive but delicious.

    I want to see photos!!!

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