The phone rang at 7am, just as I’d requested the night before.
“Good morning, this is your wake-up call! We hope you have the best! day! EVER!”
“Tone it down, Zippy,” I mumbled, “this isn’t Disney World.”
I slid out of bed and hollered over to Devin in the next room that it was time to get up. His freshly washed head popped into the doorway. “Already up!”
“And showered and dressed, I see.”
I wondered how he could be so chipper at such an early hour, especially after a long day of airplane rides and airport food.
“Are you excited about going to Universal Studios?” I asked.
“I guess,” he shrugged a shoulder. “I’m excited about seeing Harry Potter World.” And he grinned at me.
He would do that countless times over the next four days. He would also laugh, ask me questions, and permit me to kiss his cheek when my joy could no longer be contained. No, we weren’t at Disney World, but it seemed our proximity to the happiest place on Earth was enough.
Maybe it’s really Orlando that’s magical.
Or maybe it’s roller coasters, butterbeer, and hotel pools.
Or maybe it’s time together.
Whatever the secret ingredient, Devin and I had the best trip ever last week. We spent five days checking out Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and the Nickelodeon Suites Resort courtesy of VisitOrlando, and every single one of those days brought a handful of new, happy memories between me and my son. My son – who always asks to stay home when invited out, who spends most of his nights with headphones on, and who had me convinced that he couldn’t care less anymore what I thought or how I felt.
This week was different; this week was special. He asked me to swim with him. He let me hug him. He talked so much that at one point I wondered if he would ever stop.
I went on this trip, as I do on all press trips, searching for a story – in this case for Parentables. I intended to come back with details about how families with kids of multiple ages can enjoy big-ticket vacations. I hoped that Devin and I would be able to relax and get along, and maybe even reconnect a little. I got all that and so much more.
I got a reminder that my teenager is still a kid.
I got more insight into how to connect with him.
But mostly, I got time. It’s so easy for me to count family time as enough, but it’s not. It’s just not – no more than group dates are the same as one-on-ones or parties are the same as dinner with a friend. Each relationship matters and deserves individual attention, and I haven’t risen to that challenge when it comes to Devin.
Of course, getting to experience the insanely awesome Harry Potter World together didn’t hurt. I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to replicate that particular brand of magic in Pittsburgh.
Have you enjoyed your own Best Trip Ever? I’d love to hear about it in the comments – and about how you might have kept the magic going back home.