A surprise is brewing here in the Glover house. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime blow-your-mind surprise for the children.
And they have no idea. If you’re the kind of person who can’t keep a secret, just stop reading right now. You’ve got to keep it in until Monday. If you can do that, then raise your right hand. Take the oath of silence. Got it? Okay. Proceed.
It all started a few weeks ago when my mother-in-law called to tell us that Jeff’s aunt and uncle wanted to take the three older children to Disneyland for the week. They were going to bring Nana along too, just to make sure the kids were comfortable since Uncle Fred and Aunt LaVonne are twice-a-year relatives and the kids might feel better going to California with someone they know better. Besides, everything is better with a Nana, even Disney.
I was stunned when I heard it. Never in a million years would we be able to take our children to Disneyland. Maybe if we were stationed in California we could take the kids there for a day, but to fly? And to stay for days on end? That was out of the question. It’s one of the realities of having five children. Some things should not even be wished for.
But that is not the way Uncle Fred and Aunt LaVonne think. They have always had hearts big enough for crazy wishes, and even though they have grandchildren of their own to spoil and love on, they have hearts big enough for a few more. Even five more.
But all five children were not going to Disney, only three. I hung up the phone and let that thought sink in. Only three children would be going to Disney, three children when all five were old enough to know what was going on and what was being left out.
I went to bed that night but I couldn’t sleep. What a beautiful gift we had been given. It was so beautiful, it almost hurt. It hurt because all of my children couldn’t have it.
It hurt because my twins would know they were being left out, and I didn’t know how to justify that. We are the kind of family that does everything together. From dawn to dusk, my children share the same space, the same activities, the same experiences. On the rare occasions when one of them is gone, the others languish like they’ve lost a limb.
The one who is singled out doesn’t fair much better. When I took Jonathan out for his birthday, he often paused his constant chatter about birds of prey and knives and speculations about how fast he could run to sigh dramatically and say, “I wonder what The Others are doing now.”
The twins were going to notice. They were going to feel it. And I ached for them over it.
I ached so much, I almost couldn’t let the other three go. It felt selfish and mean to hold something back from the older ones just because the little ones couldn’t have it too. How could I deny my children the experience of a lifetime? But then I thought of those boys, those sweet boys who practically can’t function without Kya, their social coordinator, and Jonathan, their wrestle-buddy, and Faith, their story-reader and horse. Yes, horse.
I put my head on Jeff’s shoulder and cried it all out.
“Life isn’t fair,” he said in his I’m-going-to-make-it-okay voice. “Sometimes, it doesn’t come out the same, and the sooner our kids can learn that, the better.”
I got that. Really. I did. We have never tried to treat our kids as equals; we have treated them as individuals with different needs and different gifts. Sometimes, that means one of them gets a new pair of shoes and the others don’t.
But this is Disney. This is not just a new pair of shoes. This is the-greatest-thing-that-happened-in-my-childhood kind of thing. This is the stuff that will cause my twins to dye their hair blue and tattoo mouse ears on their bodies when they’re twenty-three. If I ask them why they’ll say, “You never took us to Disney.”
Cut out my heart.
“We need to let them go,” Jeff assured me.
I knew it. I just didn’t know how to live with it.
So, I’ve kept it a secret. I’ve kept it a secret and I’ve poured all my creative energies into making this epic experience even more epic. It is Epic Supersized. I am doctoring my heart by planning the most amazing surprise my older kids have even known. They have no idea where they are going. They do not know they will be spending a week with Nana. They do not know they will be flying on a plane! They do not know they will be landing in California and spending three luscious days at the Happiest Place on Earth.
Here in my little laboratory (pronounced la-BORE-uh-tory), I am crafting up a Disney storm. Wait until you see the pixie dust I’ve concocted. You will die.
Somewhere in all my plotting and scheming and crafting, it has become okay. I guess that’s one of the ways to cope when life isn’t fair: you add glitter.
The other half of my brain is planning a week of precious memories with my littlest loves. Oh, the places we will go! They will not know that their siblings are at Disney. It’s better that way, I think. They will have time enough to know it when their sisters and brother return. They don’t need to be jealous about it while they’re gone.
All they will know is that they are loved.
And isn’t that the best thing to know when life isn’t fair?