This week, due to all the fear and uncertainty of the coronavirus, Disney World closed its doors until at least April 1st. I live in Orlando so the news coverage on this is extensive. The locals don’t understand how hard this decision is for people who have worked so hard and planned for their Disney vacations. Likewise, I don’t think that most of us are aware of the lessons that can come from this.
Having lived up north and taken my son to Disney World several times…I know the enormity of this vacation; the expense, the planning and the excitement that builds and builds in the months before the trip. It’s kind of like Christmas on steroids. My first reaction was to think about all the little ones who are heartbroken that they can’t go see their favorite characters. And then, immediately my thoughts went to the parents who need to deal with the fallout of all the sad little ones.
The more I think about it, the more life lessons I see. As parents (especially as parents who want to give their kids the trip of a lifetime!) we want our kids to be able to have fun and enjoy life, especially on vacation. But there is the other side of parenting, and that is preparing our kids for life outside of Disney. These are the lessons I think the coronavirus will bring us:
- We can plan and save and do ALL the right things. Sometimes that vacation / job / relationship / life is just as beautiful as we planned it to be. But then again…maybe something happens – something we didn’t cause, something outside of our well cultivated control. In any position of leadership, how we handle ourselves in this situation will set the stage for how others react.
- Protecting others, as well as ourselves, from harm is more important than what we originally desired. Several years ago, I got into a fight with TL (True Love) – which rarely happens. But fight we did, and we both stormed off to work. I was still angry until about 10:00 a.m. that morning when I got a phone call that he was in the hospital. As I drove an hour to the hospital, I vowed to keep my priorities straight from then on. I guarantee you, whatever we were fighting about never mattered again. The health of our people, and even those we don’t know, far surpasses our desire for whatever it was we thought we wanted.
- Delayed gratification. It’s a pretty safe assumption that whatever you want will still be there for you at another time. It was my lifelong dream to go back to college but I was a single mom, money was tight and time was even tighter. This past December, at 52, I graduated from college. I thank God that the time wasn’t right when I was in my 20’s because the teachers that I had now and the friends I made have helped re-define my life. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb if I promise you that Disney will still be here for you at a later date. 😊
- There is something to be said for being forced to slow down and re-connect with yourself and your loved ones. If we are all quarantined, what are we going to do? We can’t shop, we can’t go out to eat, we just need to sit around. Ahh, the sheer bliss and the sheer hell of it all! I’m looking at this with a similar viewpoint of a snowstorm…and yes, we have plenty of food and water, but apparently not enough toilet paper! I’m reasonably certain that we’ll be quarantined, so we have plans for both sickness and health and I’m ready to implement them.
- Count your blessings. There’s a reasonable chance I’ll get this virus, but I’m not in the demographic for it to be significantly harmful. We do have neighbors who are, so we’re on the lookout for how we can help. How many times do we not even know our neighbors? In this age of social media “community” we sometimes forget what true community is. This is the perfect opportunity for you and your kids to help others who may not be as fortunate.
- Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you to take care of your health. The food you eat truly does nourish or harm your body, so take the time to stock up on fruits and veggies and make sure you have plenty of fluids. Tea and honey will help your throat. (I prefer locally grown honey to help build your immune system.) Processed sugar is not your friend when it comes to your immune system, so if you can decrease your consumption of that, your body will thank you in many ways. Oh, and please! Now is not the time to do some crazy restriction diet; just take good care of yourself and eat just a little better.
In closing, lead your kids through a different journey; one filled with gratitude, care of self, care for others and reconnection. Now is the perfect time for prayers and love. Reassure them that Mickey will still be there; but also know that these lessons and memories can have so much more of an impact than a vacation ever will.