It was going to be our last summer hoorah. The trusted minivan was packed with the girls, new movies, lots of yummy snacks, iPad apps, and hope. We were heading to Orlando for a girls only trip to visit my family and maybe a short day at Disney. It was my maiden voyage driving solo, as I have a bit of anxiety about travelling alone on the road. What if the car breaks down? What if they have to go potty 18 times? What if they cry and fuss the entire trip and the three hour drive turns into much longer?
Surprisingly though I was feeling pretty confident, so we packed up and headed out at 9:00AM. About 90 miles into the drive though the girls were getting antsy. I had less than half a tank of gas so I figured I’d pull off the turnpike, fill up and let them run around a bit. That’s when it happened. My car started smoking.
I almost didn’t stop, I was going to push it 40 more miles to the next service plaza, but thankfully we did. My minivan was leaking coolant and it needed to be serviced right away. The nice man at the service plaza filled it up with water and I decided to try to get as close to home as possible.
Ironically it was my youngest that was the most upset, “I want to see my Nana!” Emy (age 2 1/2) cried for about 20 minutes. My five year old was so sweet and sensitive though, “I’m just sad you can’t see your daddy mama.” I tried to hide the tears behind my sunglasses and I told them we would find a way to get up to Orlando soon. I put on a brave and happy face, and desperately tried to keep their spirits up, while simultaneously white knuckling the steering wheel and praying we didn’t get stuck on the side of the road in the 95 degree heat.
But when we finally dropped the car off at the dealership, and got a lift home four hours later, Lila was singing a different tune. She walked in the house and the tears started flowing. “We should have been in Orlando now! I’m so disappointed mommy…I just want to see Nana and Papa.”
I felt so bad for her…and me. We were stuck at home with no car, as my husband had to work a baseball series, and the girls were upset. I was obviously sad too, but I’m working on how I react to life situations, and realized this was a teachable moment. So I sat the girls down and told them:
Sometimes things happen in life that make us sad…things don’t always go perfectly. I know you wanted to be in Orlando and see Nana, Papa, and Mickey Mouse, but we have to delay our trip because our car has a boo-boo. We can either cry about it….or we can make this the best day ever.”
And that’s exactly what we did. I wanted them to have something fun to do after four-plus-hours on a drive to nowhere.
I let the girls do all the measuring, sifting, and mixing. They lined the muffin tins, added ingredients to the mixer, and licked the frosting bowl when we were done. We had a blast, and we even added a squirt of fresh lemon juice to the frosting just to illustrate the point that every cloud does indeed have a silver lining. Even if it’s an itty-bitty delicious one.
We eventually made it to Orlando the next afternoon – but didn’t make it to the parks this trip. I compensated with a character breakfast at the Contemporary Resort, new Minnie Mouse ears, and a fab ride on the monorail. (Not a bad trade off!)
Our trip to Orlando was much shorter than we anticipated, and Emylia still hasn’t made it to the Magic Kingdom. But now we have something to look forward to. And as they say…life happens when you are busy planning it. Guess that’s the next lesson!
How have you helped your kids cope with disappointment?