Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I Survived the "Happiest Place on Earth."

OK - all you ever wanted to know about my trip to Florida, and then some.....
First, let me say we DID have a good time. And the kids, at least 95% of them were good. And I am glad I went, and yes, I would go again.
With that said - the trip was also very difficult. Starting with loading the busses before we even left. We shoulda known right then that the leader had no organizational skills. NONE! None-the-less we managed to be on the road by 9 am. last Wednesday. Good kids, good chaperones, excitement, movies - what more could you want? We had the best bus by far - with the best kids of course! The day went well, but by evening we had some sick kids. One with the flu (yep!) and several car sick. Now those of you that know my daughter know how phobic she is about vomiting. And so she insisted she had to sit with me from that point on. All night. She slept. On me. I dozed a bit. I have long legs and busses are not conducive to getting a good nights rest for anyone, much less those of us with long legs! My tendonitis started flaring in my ankle. But on we rolled. I think I managed about 2 hours sleep when I became so exhausted that that outweighed my discomfort!
We arrived at Disney around 11:30 am., and after an hour of disorganized chaos, managed to get all the kids into the parks. I met up with my son and his friend who flew down, as well as my dad and my sister and spent the day with them at MGM. Warm. Sunny. Breezy. And something blowing around in the air that hit my eyes and I literally had tears pouring down my face several times that day. Thank goodness for sunglasses......
We checked into our hotel around 5. Ate at the food court. The kids went swimming. Typical stuff. Until lights out. I was on duty that night. Bah! What should have been simple suddenly blew up in my face. Along with routine stuff, and taping certain kid's doors, we suddenly had a situation on our hands. I ended up sitting for a couple hours - from midnight til 2:00 am. with a girl who was threatening to cut herself. She is a cutter, has been hospitalized and is on meds. But she had had some things happen on the bus ride that put her over the edge. And we weren't sure if she was really taking her meds. While the band director (- a sweet, but terrified 24 year old at this point) was talking to the school, her parents, social workers etc. I was with her. It took her awhile to open up, but she just talked and talked and talked once she got started. She was in anorexic mode - hadn't eaten all day, and said she would not eat the next day.She had weighed herself and was "up" to 120 pounds and was "fat." She has had issues with this also in the past and it was all the control she felt she had at that moment. We talked about so many things. Once she asked me if I was a psychiatrist. I said no, just a mom. Finally after 2 hours I pretty well had her talked down, and then they came to move her to another room and she lost it again. She wanted to room with me, but she couldn't - she had to be with a teacher from the HS for liability reasons. I did get her to walk with me to that room and I think she did ok then. So I slept from 2 til 6. Not a good way to start a trip. And certainly not a good way to start the craziest day of the trip.
The kids were involved with 4 back to back performances in the park that day (Friday). Yep - back to back. 86 degrees. High humidity. No food. 3 more kids got the flu. One girl got sick from heat, lack of sleep and stress. Soon all the kids were panicky. But all the performances went well and the kids FINALLY got to eat - around 5:00 pm. Very poor planning if you ask me - but no one did. The kids had to stay in the park til 9:30, then meet at the busses to go to the hotel. 98 percent did so. The rest were not anywhere to be seen. Late, lost, with the medics, AND back at the hotel where they were not supposed to be. So by the time all were accounted for, we got back to the hotel by 11:00. With hungry kids, who, since they ate lunch so late hadn't eaten dinner. Suddenly we had kids all over instead of in their rooms. Which made the Choir director (the big leader) lose it. Totally. Yelling at the kids. Swearing at the chaperones. Chaperones started turning on each other as well as screaming at kids. You know, the old kick the cat thing. They called an emergency chaperone meeting and we all got reamed out but good. Some of it was very inappropriate. And I was working on 4 hours sleep. Fortunately, at this point I could still manage to keep my thoughts to myself......
The next day we were up again at 6:00 am. for band and orchestra workshops in Orlando. More chaos. Unhappy adults. Unhappy kids. Angry people. And a totally whipped looking, overwhelmed 24 year old band director, who was caught between the adults and the dictator choir director. He felt so bad by this time that he apologized to the chaperones who were with him. OK you get the point.....
Afternoon in the parks on their own. Evening in the parks on their own. Couldn't go back to the hotel til 11:30. Exhausted kids who just wanted to sleep. I had such bad tendonitis in my ankle by now that I couldn't walk. But we were forbidden to go to the hotel. Cuz kids might "do things" in the rooms. Bah! The kids were exhausted, stressed, we had 6 with the flu and blisters abounded. Some kids rode around and around on the monorail to keep warm and sleep until they could return to the hotel. Poor, poor planning. A schedule set up for failure. More angry adults. Who begged to let some of us stay at the hotel the next day so the kids who wanted to could stay and swim and rest etc. Not allowed. Insanity. And because of more issues I only got a few hours of sleep again....
By now I'm having trouble not saying how I feel. I was losing it. We all were. We said a lot of things we shouldn't have. It was just so frustrating. More dumb adult happenings. More dumb kid issues. More dumb kids period. Who were making bad decisions because they were SO TIRED! It was another long, long day. We had a diabetic problem that we had to address. We had a girl who had a bad reaction to the sun. We had sick kids dumped on a bench instead of being allowed to stay in their room because that meant paying for an extra day.....and it went on and on and on. Halfway through this day I just wanted to be alone. By myself. I didn't wanna talk to anyone. Or think. I just wanted to sit on a bench, or walk through the park and be by myself. That's what having no down time does to you. Especially if you are an introvert.....
And then we got on the bus to go home. Finally we could sit. Our bus zonked in about 10 minutes. But the choir darlings on bus one with the dictator director had to stop to get "ready for bed" HUH? So, a half hour into the trip we stopped. Which woke up all our kids who were furious. And I can't repeat what the adults said. Back on the bus. Rolling again. One hour later STOPPED AGAIN!! Because some kids on bus 1 needed to go to the bathroom and the dictator director didn't want them to use the potty on the bus....????
By now the band director has had it. He's walking with me just muttering and stomping about. (Remember he's 24) He looks at me and says I think I'll go order a country fried steak and potatoes. We won't get home until Wednesday anyway!..... We all got slap happy after that and we adults kept the kiddies awake with our silliness. Shame on us - but we were so stressed and so tired, and we had to laugh to keep from being over the edge angry. This time the bus managed to travel until 6 am at which time - you guessed it, the dictator director wanted to stop for a buffet breakfast that no one even knew about. AND THEY WERE ALL SLEEPING! Argh. Enough. You get the picture. I'll quit whining now. We managed to arrive home around 9 pm Monday night. My feet were so swollen I couldn't walk. My toes looked like vienna sausages. No Lie. I spent yesterday at work with my feet on the desk and ice on my ankles. I went home from work and spent the evening with ice on my ankles. I fell asleep at 9. My feet look better, tho still swollen. I am still exhausted. With no hope of recovering this week, my schedule is just too busy.
But we did have a good time. It's just the bad is dominating my thoughts still.
We rode rides and sat in the sun. The parade was awesome and we got great pix. We ate well most of the time - tho it was fast food and we got tired of it. We made new friends and spent time with old friends. We got to know the kids a lot better. We were where it was warm. I got to ride some cool rides with my son - he flew down to spend his vacation at Disney. I got to go behind the scenes at the Magic Kingdom. I got yet another reminder of what it's like to be a teenager and the issues and stuff they are going though. And I hope at least part of the time I got to make a difference in a kid's life.
Would I go again? Absolutely!

Rides I managed to find time for:

Great Movie Ride
Rockin' Roller Coaster (my favorite :) )
Muppet 3-D
Back Lot Tour
Star Tours
Lights, Motors, Action Stunt Show (Brand new and way cool)

Magic Kingdom

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (love this ride)
Haunted Mansion
Peter Pan
Winnie the Pooh
Buzz Lightyear
Small World


Mission Space (Left me totally disoriented for hours)
Test Track
Spaceship Earth
Soarin' (New and totally awesome....)

Animal Kingdom

Expedition Everest(New and awesome roller coaster - in the dark and backwards....)
Kilimanjaro Safari

I don't have a lot of pictures. I was too busy... but I'll try to get a few up later. If I'm not sleeping..... :)


A said...

Ok, just reading that made me tired.

gerbmom said...

now you know why NONE of my brain cells are firing and I'm dead on my feet.... :D

Darla said...

wow.... that was..... intense!! i know you're glad to be back in your own bed. way too much drama for me. i can't believe you'd do it again!! ha ha

Mike Clawson said...

Sounds like a nightmare... as someone who has planned and carried out many, many trips with teenagers, I can tell you that whoever planned that trip pretty much did everything wrong!

But you knew that already. ;)

Christine said...

It sounds appalling. Absolutely appalling.