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"Boys, give me your dress shirts and I'll put them in the wash. We'll need them for next week. We can iron them this afternoon before we leave for Disney," I called down the hall to the bedrooms as I entered the laundry room.
We had just finished breakfast and the boys were in their rooms getting dressed to go play the short course. All three of us were really looking forward to playing together. Sean and Jake were excited because this was their first game of Golf and I was excited because Golf is ideal for fathers and sons spending time together. Even though Sean and Jake weren't my sons (at least Sean wasn't yet) it felt like they were. I was starting to become as attached to Jake as I was to Sean, and I considered him my unofficial son.
I was looking forward to the four hours or more of conversation, competition, and bonding that the game would offer us, as we shared nature's gifts.
When they came into the laundry room and gave me their shirts, I put them in the machine and turned it on.
"I hope you both put sun screen on, as it's going to be sunny today. Put your clubs in the car, boys and I'll be with you in a moment," I said as I went back into the kitchen to get us some bottles of cold water.
"Aren't we going in the golf cart," Sean asked.
I told the boys we were walking and carrying our clubs today, and that we couldn't get the 3 of us in the Golf cart anyways. We were going to play the game the way it was meant to be played. I didn't tell them that carrying and walking together would give us the closeness I was looking forward to.
The short course was about 5200 yards in length and was a par 64. It was ideal for seniors, juniors, novices and golfers wanting to hone their short game. It was a mix of par 3 and par 4 holes, with two par 5's on each nine. When we got to the first tee deck, I threw a tee on the ground to see in what order we would hit.
"Whoever is closest to where the tee points goes first, then I throw it down again for second and so on."
Jake was first, Sean second and I was last. The first hole was a par 4 and was about 295 yards long. Jake hit his driver about 180 yards and in the fairway. Sean stepped up and I could see that he was nervous as the next foursome was coming up to the tee.
"Nice smooth swing Sean and just concentrate on the shot," I said, as I tried to reassure him.
He hit his shot down the left side of the fairway about 170 yards, and turned around and had a big smile on his face as he walked to his bag to put his driver away.
I stepped up and hit my Hybrid club 195 yards down the centre, to leave myself 100 yards in to the flag.
As we were walking to our balls I congratulated the two of them for their great first ever tee shots. Both of them were beaming with pride.
When we had finished the hole, I had made a par and both Sean and Jake had double bogeys. Jake made two bad chip shots and Sean missed two short putts. Jake was as happy as he had been before we teed off, but Sean was quite perturbed.
When I was talking to Jake as we went to the next tee, I said that it was too bad he fluffed his chip shots.
"That's Ok, I've got 17 more holes left to make up for them," he said as he bounced on ahead to catch up to Sean.
Sean was not so happy, as he was brooding a little as I caught up with them at the tee block. I was going to go over to him to see if I could lift his spirits, but Jake intercepted me, and shook his head letting me know that I should leave Sean alone.
The three of us hit and walked down the fairway to the green. Sean walked ahead, and he was very animated and talking to himself. I was sure that he was swearing up a storm, but as long as he was keeping it to himself I wasn't going to say anything.
"Just leave him alone, Pop, and he'll come around. When he puts his tongue out and becomes 'Bulldog', he'll be Ok, " he said as he smiled at me.
It took two more holes and some bad shots, but finally the tongue came out and he scrambled and made par on the next two holes. Jake was right, he had transformed into 'Bulldog', and became tenacious and had focused his anger.
I was amazed at the difference in the two kids' personalities and how well they got along with each other despite those differences. Each one knew what made the other tick, and I guess that's why they were such good friends.
"I'm glad you're back to earth, young man. I was getting tired of that 'mad' face we've looked at for the last 5 holes," I said as we walked down the fairway together.
"I'm sorry, I get pis ..... ah... real mad sometimes and I have to be alone and stuff for awhile," he said as he smiled.
"And remember your verbal discipline. This is a gentleman's game and gentlemen don't swear within earshot of their playing partners," I said with a stern look. "Especially when one of your partners is your Pop."
He looked at me with a sheepish look on his face and said, "I won't."
The boys played the next few holes reasonably well. We played up to the eighth hole and we were on the green. I was lining up my putt for a birdie, when all of a sudden I heard a loud fart and then smelled the odour. When I turned around, both of them were laughing, and Jake had his hand over his mouth and Sean was holding his nose.
"Oops! That happens every time I have a lot of beans, like I did last night at dinner. It was a little runny this morning too. I thought I could squeak out another silent one, but it got away from me, " Jake said as he laughed.
"That's a little too much information, Jake," I said as the 3 of us laughed and I fanned the air with my Golf towel. "Besides, it wasn't that big a portion and they were green beans."
He said that he had had Mara's and Jackson's portions last night, as they didn't like green beans.
When we hit the turn after the ninth hole, we stopped at the half-way house to get something to eat. The boys wanted a Coke, hot dog and chips, but I had other ideas.
"Sorry guys, but you can have any sandwich on brown bread, fruit and either bottled water, juice or Gatorade," I said as I smiled at them.
We ate as we walked down the 10th fairway. By the time we made it to the green, both boys were finished their sandwiches, bananas and most of their drinks. I was still on the first half of my sandwich.
The 11th hole was a par 4 that was about 275 yards long to the pin. I decided to use my driver and see if I could reach the green, as it was downhill. This was the first time I used the driver during the round, as I wanted to practice pitching with my wedges. I made a good swing and got all of the ball, and I could see it roll onto the green.
"Hoooolllly," Jake said. "Was that ever a rocket!"
The two of them were quite in awe of how far I had hit it. I explained that it was downhill and I didn't usually hit them that far.
"Besides, it won't be long, boys until you two are out driving me," I said as I smiled.
We were just getting to the 14th tee and I could see Jake doing what I was guessing was a 'pee' dance.
"Why don't you pop into those bushes over there and take care of business, Jake," I said. "Make sure you're in far enough so the ladies on that hole over there don't see you," I said as I smiled.
He ran off and came back a minute later with a big smile of relief on his face. Sean had teed off and I guess the power of suggestion got to him. He took off into the bushes as well.
"Maybe next time you guys should go to the washroom at the turn, rather than adding up your score and going over some of your shots," I said as I smiled.
After we teed off on the 16th hole, Jake hit his drive left and I didn't realize it had gone into the woods. Sean and I were on the other side of the fairway. After we had hit our shots, we looked over and all we saw was Jake's Golf bag.
I ran over and yelled at him to come out of the woods. Sean was right behind me with a bewildered look on his face. When Sean and I arrived at his bag he was coming out of the woods with a big smile on his face.
"Look at all the balls I found in there," he said as he had two handfuls.
When I saw him, I let out a big sigh of relief and said, "Didn't you read the sign that's in front of your golf bag, Jake?"
He went white when he read it. It said keep out because of the danger of snakes and alligators. I had forgotten to remind them of the danger on the last 3 holes. When we went further down the fairway, we saw two very large alligators on the bank of the pond, that were about 50 feet away from the woods where Jake had been.
"Your uncle wouldn't have been too happy with me if I brought you back minus a foot or two," I said as I tried to make light of the situation. We were all a little shaken and subdued for the next hole. I was so glad nothing happened, as I wouldn't have forgiven myself if it had.
We finished the last hole on a high note, as all of us had Pars. We took off our hats and shook hands.
"Thank you, boys for a wonderful game," I said as I gave both of them a big smile.
It was very satisfying to have played with the two of them and I was looking forward to doing more of this when we got back. I was also very proud of them for the most part, for the way they conducted themselves during the round ..... with the exception of Jake's indiscretion and Sean's early hissy fit.
"How about we get some beers?" I said as I smiled at them.
They looked at me with big smiles on their faces.
"Root beers for you guys," I said as I laughed.
We walked into the clubhouse and into the snack bar, with my arm around the two of them and a big smile on all our faces. We had what I called another lunch, but the boys called it a snack, and then made our way back to the house.
When we got in, the boys went to the kitchen to get something else to eat and drink. I had no idea where they were putting it, as they must have had hollow legs. While they were eating, I took out the shirts from the dryer, and I got out the ironing board and iron, as I called the boys. When they came in, I showed them how to iron their shirts as I used mine as a demonstration. I turned to Sean and told him it was his turn next. I noticed that he showed great reluctance.
"What's the problem?" I asked him.
He didn't respond right away, but finally he said, "Why do I have to learn ironing?"
I knew his question was gender based by the way he said it. I thought we had solved the chauvinistic thing with him cooking, but apparently not.
"For the same reason you cook, and the same reason Melissa plays hockey."
He looked at me with a puzzled look so I explained to him that his attitude was chauvinistic, and that those stereotypes just didn't fit in the world that he was going to have to live in the rest of his life. I also told him that Melissa had been playing hockey since she was 6 years old, in the boys hockey leagues.
"If Melissa had heard what you just said, she would have body checked you through the doorway, young man," I said as I smiled.
"I'll go next, Pop," Jake said as he put his shirt on the ironing board.
He proceeded to iron his shirt like an expert.
"My uncle and I do our own laundry and ironing."
I could see that Sean was feeling very sheepish by the look on his face. After Jake was finished Sean ironed his shirt with a fair bit of help from both of us. When he was finished, it was obvious that ironing wasn't his thing.
"Go take your showers then pack up boys, and be careful putting your shirts in your garment bags. You don't want to waste all that good work and have to iron them again when you get to the room tonight at Disney World," I said as I smiled. I could tell by Sean's expression that he would be very careful, as he didn't want to have to iron anything too soon.
Before we left I had Jake call Pietro, as he hadn't spoken to him since Friday night after he landed. They had about a 10 minute conversation, during which Jake monopolized the call.
"Let your uncle talk too, Jake. His ear is probably sore now," I said as I laughed.
I could tell that he was glad to talk to his uncle, and I was sure Pietro was glad to hear from him as well. While the call was taking place I could see Sean sitting on the couch in the great room with his cell phone.
"Are you calling someone?" I asked.
"No, I'm texting," he said.
He continued typing away on his Blackberry Pearl which didn't have a full keyboard. I was always amazed how fast kids could type on those things, as there were 3 characters per key, unlike my full keyboard Blackberry Curve that I used. I didn't say anything, as I was waiting for him to tell me more details. After about 30 seconds I realized that he wasn't forthcoming with the information.
"So, who are you texting?" I asked, knowing full well who it was.
He looked at me and smiled and said, "Melissa."
'Hormones' I thought as I chuckled to myself as I turned around and gathered up my luggage to put in the foyer.
We took a private commuter jet to Orlando and a limo to the Grand Floridian. The hotel was adjacent to the Magic Kingdom, and our suites had a Magic Kingdom view, so we could see the nightly fireworks from our room.
The Grand Floridian was Disney World's flagship resort, and the most luxurious. It was done in a Victorian style, and each of the 6 buildings featured red gabled roofs and a white exterior, complete with the traditional Victorian gingerbread trim. It was a magnificent resort.
We entered the lobby after we were dropped off by the limo and made our way to the check-in desk. The boys were in awe, and their mouths were open, as they looked up to the ceiling which was 5 storeys high. They continued taking pictures with their cameras, as they had been doing ever since we had entered the grounds in the limo. I had to grab them by their belts a couple of times, otherwise they would have gone head over heels over a chair or table, as they weren't looking where they were going.
"Wow, this place is awesome," Jake said as he was beaming.
"This is just like in the movies," Sean said with an awestruck look on his face.
I managed to move them over to the counter without incident to get checked in.
"You're in the main building in suite 1242, with a Magic Kingdom View Mr. Burger," the desk clerk said. "Would you like a key for each of your grandsons?" he asked.
I just smiled and said yes. I knew that I would have to start getting used to it, so I didn't correct him. I guess my grey hair and 'mature' look gave away my age.
We managed to get into the suite without incident. Jake was a chatterbox the whole way up in the elevator, and Sean was quietly taking everything in. When we got to the suite, they were once again awestruck by the poshness of the surroundings and the magnificent view of the Magic Kingdom.
"There's our first destination tomorrow, boys. The Magic Kingdom; The land of Mickey mouse," I said as I laughed.
They got settled into their room, which had two queen sized beds and their own bathroom. Mine had a king sized bed with my own bathroom as well. My bathroom however, had a Jacuzzi tub as well as a glass walled shower.
"Oh look boys, an ironing board and iron. Aren't we lucky," I said as I laughed, while I opened the hall closet door.
Sean screwed up his face and walked away.
By now it was 4:30, and Carol, Katie and Marty were due to arrive in about 1/2 hour. I called down to the desk and booked reservations for dinner at Narcoossee's seafood restaurant which was in the main building, and asked for a table overlooking the Seven Seas lagoon. I wasn't sure if the boys were big seafood lovers, but we would soon find out.
"I booked us into the seafood restaurant called Narcoossee's for tonight boys."
"Is that like fish sticks and stuff?" Jake asked.
I laughed, and said no, but I assured him there would be something he would like. I was guessing that Jake, being adventurous would try anything, however I wasn't sure about Sean.
"I had fish once, and it wasn't too good," Sean said screwing up his face.
I told him that if he didn't see anything he wanted, I'm sure they would make him a hamburger, or sandwich he would like. Just then our phone rang, and I was sure it was the girls calling from their room.
"When you get settled, come on down the hall and meet the other member of the dynamic duo," I said as I laughed.
Ten minutes later Katie, Carol and Marty arrived at the door.
"So this is Jake," Carol said as she gave him a hug and kiss on the cheek.
Katie followed up with the same routine, and Jake just stood there smiling with a red face. He was speechless for about a minute as the greetings were taking place. Surprisingly Sean wasn't embarrassed, and seemed to like the affection from his two soon-to-be sisters.
By now room service had arrived with some drinks for all of us and some snacks. We sat down and got caught up on their flight and news events. Jake finally recovered, and became his old talkative self. The girls and Marty were really good with the two boys and involved them in the conversation.
Our dinner reservation was for 6:00 p.m. I told the boys that they could watch a pay per view movie on the TV in our room after we came back, as Katie, Carol, Marty and I would be strolling around the grounds and then chatting in their room before the fireworks at 10 p.m. I thought that they would find our activity boring, so I suggested the movie. Then we were going to watch the fireworks from the window of the girls' room, as they had a perfect view.
While we chatted, the boys looked at the selections and didn't see anything they wanted to watch. Carol suggested they go downstairs to the lobby, as they had a movie rental store for the guests. I initially wasn't comfortable letting them go by themselves, but the girls talked me into it.
"Loosen up Dad. Don't you remember you let us go and rent our own videos when we stayed at The Carribean Beach Resort when we were their age?" Carol said.
When they left, the girls admonished me about being too protective of the two boys. Then the conversation turned to their impressions of Jake.
"Boy is Jake the lively one," Katie said as she laughed.
"He was a little subdued at first, as he's not used to the kissing and hugging thing," I said as I smiled.
"The two of them seem so different, but they look like they're good friends. They suit each other," Carol said as she smiled.
I brought them up-to-date on the last few days at Golf School, and the budding romance between Melissa and Sean. I conveniently left out the part about Anne and I, as I wanted to keep that a private matter for now. I figured I would keep it on a need-to-know basis, just like they did to me with their lives.
"It was a little more than hand holding, " I said as I smiled.
Both girls raised their eyebrows and gave me a startled look.
"Well, still waters run deep, eh Dad," Katie said as she smiled. "You're going to have to have that 'talk' again with our soon-to-be little brother."
They thought it was 'cute' and that it was likely 'puppy love' at their age. I also told them what Sean had asked me by the pool side and how I responded.
"I can't believe you told him that, Dad," Carol said. "I'm proud of you, and I'm sure mom would be too."
"As you know, girls, I don't have much experience with that sort of thing, as Mom used to deal with that. I just feel lost with this sort of stuff, and I hope I'm not letting him down."
"You're doing just fine, Dad," Katie said as she put her arm around me.
I also told them that I had to teach the two of them how to dance. All three of them laughed.
"I can just picture you and the boys dancing," Marty said. "How many times did they step on your toes?"
By now the boys had returned with a DVD, and it was almost time to go to our room and get ready for dinner. We were curious as to what they got, but they didn't seem too willing to tell us. Finally I asked to see the DVD and Sean reluctantly gave it to me.
"Blood Diamond? This has an R rating on the back of the jacket. Doesn't that mean it's Restricted?" I said with a stern look on my face.
Sean was interested in Jennifer Connelly and Jake said Leonardo DiCaprio was one of his favourite actors. I asked them how they were able to rent a Restricted DVD and Sean said that Jake did all the talking and was able to persuade the clerk that they were picking it up for the family to see it.
"Ok guys. You're going to go back down and exchange this for something PG13 or below," I said as I glared at them.
Carol, Katie and Marty laughed when they left the room.
"I wish I had known how Jake was able to talk that guy into it when I was his age," Marty said as he laughed.
When they came back they had chosen Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
"Much better boys," I said as I smiled.
The girls and Marty left and we all got ready to go down to the restaurant.
Narcoossee's was a seafood restaurant which had a variety of dishes. We all ordered Seafood, even Sean, as he decided to be adventurous and had the pan seared scallops. I had shrimp and Jake had lobster. All of us including Sean thought the meal was fabulous.
Jake had never had lobster before, so Marty and the girls helped him get the meat out of the shell to dip into the garlic butter that came with it. He looked funny with the bib on that they supplied him with to protect his clothing. I was glad he had it, as it was obvious after he had finished that the bib had done it's job.
After dinner, the boys went back to our room and watched the DVD while the girls, Marty and I explored the Resort. We all came together in the girls' suite just before 10 to watch the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom. We opened the windows to hear the music and announcer and the boom of the fireworks. It was a terrific display and the boys were very impressed.
"This is way better than the fireworks we have on the Victoria Day weekend in May back in Canada," Jake said.
"Boys, we have to be up early for the supercalifragilistic breakfast buffet at the 1900 Park Fare restaurant," I said as I made a movement to get up to leave.
Sean had never heard of the word before, so I explained about Mary Poppins and the other host at the breakfast, Alice of Alice in Wonderland. Jake had seen the Mary Poppins movie and read the Alice in Wonderland book, but Sean didn't know anything about them. The girls, Marty, Jake and I explained them to him, and I made a mental note to get the movie Mary Poppins with Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews in the near future, as well as the book Alice in Wonderland for him.
By now it was almost 10:30 and we were all tired, so Sean, Jake and I said goodbye, left for our room and went to bed. It was going to be a big day tomorrow.