Did you ever notice that families with little money are more tight nit and happier than wealthy families? I’m sure there are other explanations for this reality, but I’ve stumbled across one epiphany that makes sense to me. Here’s how I reached my conclusion.
My boys and I are a very close, happy family, and we recently arrived home from a week-long trip to Disney and Universal. We had a great time on Space Mountain, Rock’n Roller Coaster and Disco H2O. We also loved the shows. I was even “THAT GUY” on the Monster’s Inc. show – an interactive, animated program that spotlights audience members and makes them characters in the plot. My boys loved that I somehow got to be the costar of the show for which I was presented with this badge. All day long, Disney employees, or cast members as they prefer to be called, said “Hey, you’re THAT GUY, Congratulations!
Okay, back to our regularly scheduled program already in progress.
As I said, Orlando was awesome, but the trip – the trip was most excellent. This particular trip reminded me of childhood expeditions, in which memories of the “journey there” conjure up more anticipation and excitement than the destination itself. For me, childhood road trips were a time for laughter, planning, and excitement – almost magical.
My family takes several multi-hour fun trips per year, and it became evident to me this year that while we usually have loads of fun, some magic was missing. As a college professor in a single parent family, I would not describe my financial status as wealthy, but with budgeting and planning we do fine. And as I looked at my boys gearing up for our 9 hour trip, I thought: when it comes to childhood possessions, one area that kids today often differ from kids of just a generation ago is in technology. As we boarded the car for our trip, this is what I observed: two boys with IPods on, cell phones by their sides, one watching a movie on his portable DVD, and the other playing his Nintendo DS. I had just tuned Sirius radio to hair nation.
For about five minutes I sat frozen with keys in hand – I realized we were being isolated by technology – there was no opportunity to savor the excitement. I realized that our trip would be like Christmas without the Christmas season – no time for anticipation, so I made the unpopular announcement to put away all the gadgets for the first half of the trip.
The first few moments weren’t particularly productive, but that soon changed.
My boys and I talked about what we wanted to do during our vacation. We sang songs and played games. We played the initial game (ie J.D. Male actor; hint: plays a pirate) , the alphabet game (ie, find words on signs that begin with “A”, then “B: ect), the other alphabet game (I say Apple, one son says Apple, Bear; the next son says: Apple, Bear, Crow, etc), and also 20 questions. We made up our own games: who could find the most red trucks and who could find the license plates from a specified state. We told jokes, we told stories, we laughed, and we loved it. Before the magic of Disney, we shared the magic of the family road trip. We shared the magic of love and family that no amount of money can buy.
Disney was entertaining:
As we boarded the car for the trip home, I noticed my boys had their IPods and games by their sides. I smiled and thought maybe the magic of childhood can’t compete with today’s technology. As I started the engine and began to drive, a small but enthusiastic voice from behind me said, “Can we play 20 questions first?” And so we did . . .
Our vacation is now over; and as always, while we enjoyed the trip, we are happy to be home. This trip; however, we brought a special souvenir home with us, and we agreed to take it out often – something more magical than Disney. We agreed to limit the electronics and make more time for what really counts – the magic that no money can buy.