I have to admit, being the over protective parent that I am, I was very apprehensive about letting my children wander the World by themselves during our last Disney vacation. When we arrived at Disney World, my teenage son Bret talked to us about how family was so important to him and how he wanted us to enjoy the vacation together rather than go off on his own or with his younger teenage sister Haley. That lasted until the middle of our vacation week. It was on one of our days touring Epcot, a particularly hot and humid day. (What summer day in Florida isn’t?) It was “Animal Kingdom hot” even in the shade. My wife and I wanted to take a break from the parks and rest up for dinner while our kids were still raring to go. My daughter wanted to do the Kim Possible Adventure while my son wanted to wander World Showcase. We told Bret that he couldn’t separate from Haley, and, that if the two of them wanted to stay in the park without us, they had to stay together. So, Bret agreed to do the Kim Possible Adventure with his sister. My wife and I headed back to our resort. After relaxing in our room for a short while, my wife went to do the laundry while I went spanning the internet globe. When the kids came back, they couldn’t get the words out fast enough to tell us how great the Kim Possible Adventure was.
Allowing Bret and Haley to stay in Epcot by themselves turned out to be one of the best things we could have done. My kids have never gotten along great. There has been such an incredible sibling rivalry between them, and my son, who will never admit it, has been jealous of my daughter from the day she was born. My wife and I can now look back at the calendar and remember that day as the day our kid’s relationship changed. They can actually stay in the same room with each other, and Bret, who used to tease Haley unmercifully, is actually nice to her. He even drives her to and from her friend’s houses and the mall.
By letting our teenage children go off on their own at Disney World, we allowed them a sense of independence in what I consider a relatively safe environment. More importantly they discovered something about themselves and about each other. They learned they could find common ground. They also realized they had a similar interest in Disney, and now they have a memory of our vacation that just the two of them share. Not even my wife or I were a part of that memory, and, while that may sound sad, it’s really not. It’s just our kids growing up and maturing before our eyes in a place where dreams do come true.
From that day forward, my wife and I have noticed a miraculous difference in our children’s behavior toward each other. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve told our kids to try to get along because someday both my wife and I will be gone to the Mickey clouds in the sky and the only blood family they would have left is each other. Those words just never seemed to penetrate, but, then in a land of magic and make believe, something did happen. Maybe they had too many shots of Beverly at Club Cool or maybe they had one too many Mickey bars. We’ll never know! Maybe it was the bonding moment they shared doing the Kim Possible Adventure, or perhaps the Disney gods were looking down upon them. The one thing we know for sure is their change and respect toward each other happened at Disney World.
Contributed by: Stuart S. (NDD #47). Stuart is our resident Disney geek and creator of Disney Geek Dad.