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We were greeted at the door of the 1900 Park Fare restaurant by the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. Jake thought he was cool, as he remembered the character from his reading. Sean just thought the guy was a nut case. Sean was a little cranky, as I guess he didn't get enough sleep. I wasn't sure if that was because he was so excited about today ..... or if he had been thinking about Melissa, which kept him awake.
"He didn't make any sense. That must be some stupid story," he said with a disgusted look on his face.
When he saw the buffet table, his mood picked up. We were seated and we gave our juice and coffee orders to the waitress. The boys were having milk rather than coffee. We got up and filled our plates with the bacon, eggs and other breakfast fare that had been laid out on the buffet table. The boys had a heaping plate, and I was afraid half of it was going to tumble off onto the floor before they got back to the table.
"You can go back as many times as you want, boys, so you don't have to load up," I said as I smiled at them.
"We know, Pop, but this way it cuts down the number of trips," Jake said as he smiled.
We were having our coffee (the boys, herbal tea) when the girl dressed up as Alice came over to our table. She was a lovely looking blond girl in her early twenties. She made a fuss over the two boys, and I could see that Sean's attitude to the whole experience changed. Up to that point he was tolerating the atmosphere of the characters and the only enjoyment to him was the food.
"So did Alice make sense, Sean?" I asked, after Alice had left our table. "I noticed you were able to understand what she was saying ..... when you were paying attention," I said as the girls, Marty and I laughed. Sean just gave me one of those looks.
We went back up to our rooms after breakfast to get changed and made our way to the Magic Kingdom. We got into the park shortly after it opened. We could see there would be some fairly large crowds so we headed off immediately to the Space Mountain ride. There was about a 10 minute lineup when we got there.
Carol and I were not going to go on it, as both of us were afraid of heights and weren't into thrill rides. The other four however, were looking forward to it. Sean and Jake weren't quite sure what they were in for, but both assured us they liked this type of ride. I was surprised at Sean, as he always seemed to be a little apprehensive in new situations, however not this time.
I could see that Marty and Katie were describing to the boys what the ride was like as they waited in line. I could imagine what they were saying, as both of them were daredevils. To them the scarier the better. Whatever it was that they were saying, the boys had big smiles on their faces.
I took the opportunity to get caught up with Carol on some of the happenings of the past two weeks. She wasn't aware of the problem with Sean's grandfather, and I told her how that almost blew up into an ugly situation. I also told her the date for the adoption hearing was at the end of the month.
"Are you going to have a family get-together that night?" she asked.
"That's a good idea, but there could be a problem. The judge assigned to the case is a stickler on process, and he may delay the adoption until the grandfather is convicted. Plus, he's not a big fan of single parent adoptions, especially given my age," I said.
I told her that Ray was going to represent us and that I was hoping he could pull this off without any more hassle. I also told her Sean knew nothing about the potential problem, and that I didn't want to worry him. She suggested that we have the get-together anyway, so if the adoption was delayed we could all be there to lend moral support to Sean.
"So I'm getting the impression that Sean's a worry-wart like you and I are, Dad," she said with a smile.
I also told her about the financial contingencies I had set in place, and she said that she would have no problem with the bank account that was set up and the house being put in his name, and she was sure Katie wouldn't either.
"I hope when this is all settled that you're going to set up a larger trust fund for him," she said.
I assured her I would, as well as change my will, as soon as the adoption was final and I had his birth certificate.
"How did you get a passport for him?" she asked.
"It pays to have friends in high places," I said as I smiled. "Rick took care of that."
Then we got onto Sean's love interest and his awakening sexuality.
"He looks so young to be into girls already. His voice hasn't even changed yet," she said as she laughed.
"I can assure you his hormones are firing on all cylinders," I said as I chuckled. "He certainly is a horny teenage boy. You've had a glimpse of that this morning."
I also thought I'd bounce something off her that was bothering me about Sean and Jake.
"I'm not comfortable with what Sean and Jake are doing when they are sleeping together, and I'm considering doing something to stop it. At this point I just don't know what that will be. I know many boys their age experiment, but call me old fashioned as I just don't think it's a healthy situation. I don't think they've done too much together, but it still makes me feel uncomfortable."
"Maybe that will work itself out on it's own. Sean may not want to continue given his new found interest in Melissa," she said.
I hadn't thought about that, but it did make sense. She said that I should give it some time, and perhaps have a talk with Sean about it when we got home. I decided that her advice was sound and that I would do exactly that. I also was going to try and discourage them from sleeping in the same bed together when we went back to the house in Naples.
By now the ride was finished and the four of them were making their way over to us.
"Whoa, was that ever cool. I was scared shi...... ah ..... out of my wits," Jake said as he bounced around.
"You two passed the initiation with flying colours," Marty said as he smiled at them and gave them a high five.
"Yeah, that was awesome. Let's do it again," Sean said with a big smile on his face.
I was having trouble figuring out how a timid kid like Sean loved a ride that virtually terrified me. We agreed that if there was time we would come back before the end of the day to see if they could get on it again.
I told them we had to make our way back to the entrance down Main Street USA to the big souvenir shop called the Emporium. I told them we had to get something they would need for the rest of the time at Disney. The boys looked at me with puzzled looks, but I could see that Carol and Katie knew what I was talking about.
When we got to the store, the boys were amazed at the size of it. The store took up the entire block, and contained just about every Disney souvenir you could think of. I told them to follow me and we ended up at the racks of hats.
"Well, which set of Mickey Mouse ears do you boys want?" I asked with a big smile on my face.
Katie, Carol and Marty just laughed, and started to help the boys pick out a good choice. They also looked for some Mickey Mouse t-shirts for the boys to wear. They finally decided what they wanted and we went up to the cash and I paid for them. We then started to look around at some of the other displays and merchandise.
The boys found a large display of stuffed toys and there were two life size stuffed mickey mouse dolls that were available to pose with. They were sitting next to them and I got out the camera to take their picture. They gave me a big smile as I snapped it.
"That looks familiar, doesn't it, Dad," Katie said with a big smile on her face.
She then proceeded to pull out a picture from her wallet of Carol and her in the same pose in 1992. By now the boys, Carol and Marty joined us and were looking at the picture and comparing it to the picture in the camera. It was déja vu, as remarkably the two boys were almost posed in the same way as Carol and Katie were. I could only hope that Sean and Jake grew up to be as responsible and well adjusted adults as my girls.
"Are you alright, Dad," Carol said, as she noticed I had become very quiet.
"I'm fine. I'm just having one of those reflective Dad moments. When did you two grow up?" I asked as I smiled at them.
I knew that the teen years would go by fast with Sean as well, and that all too soon he would likely be going off to university and then to the world of work. I was reflecting on how lucky I was to be able to enjoy this age again, even though I knew there would be ups and downs, as there were with the girls. I was confident that the great kid that I saw in Sean's good eye the night I found him would emerge as a great adult.
The boys went off by themselves and I went off with Katie, Carol and Marty. We all picked out some souvenirs for people back home. I was just about finished and I looked over at the cash and the boys were there and it appeared that Sean was buying some purchases with his credit card. When I got closer, I could see that Jake was engaged in a very animated discussion with the clerk, and Sean was off to the side of them.
"Just because he's a kid you're discriminating against him," Jake said with a very serious look on his face I hadn't seen before.
Apparently the clerk had questioned the fact that the credit card Sean was using was his, and was refusing the purchase. He didn't have his passport with him to verify the signature. I was about to step in when Jake continued and ripped a strip off of the clerk in a very mature way. By now the clerk saw me and he realized that they were with me and told me that a credit card can only be used by the owner, as he thought it was mine.
At this point Jake started in on him again, telling him that it was rude to ignore him, and that he wanted to speak to his boss to lay a complaint about his attitude. I decided to back Jake up, as I was a little surprised at the clerk's handling of the situation. We had always had great service everywhere in Disney before.
"You heard the boy, he wants to speak to your boss," I said with a very serious look on my face.
When the manager arrived, Jake took over and clearly explained the problem and why he thought the clerk's attitude was unacceptable. The manager apologized profusely saying it was a misunderstanding and he accepted the credit card and Sean's signature, and finished the sale while the clerk went into the back.
I was quite surprised at Jake's forcefulness, especially given his easy going nature. I guess I was seeing another side of Jake that was quite impressive for a boy of his age. The fact that he stood up for what he thought was right was one thing, but the mature way he was able to express himself was quite remarkable.
"I'm very proud, Jake at your mature handling of that situation," I said as I smiled at him and put my arm around his back.
"I don't like when things aren't right, and he wasn't being fair," he said.
"Thanks Jake. You always know what to say," Sean said as he smiled at him.
We continued to look around, and Jake went with Marty to look at some mugs and Sean stayed with me. I knew there was something Sean wanted to talk to me about from his body language.
"Jake wants to get this watch for his uncle but it's too much money. He only has $15 to spend and the watch is $99," he said. "Can I go to the ATM over in the corner and use my debit card to get some money to give to him?"
I explained that I was proud of him for trying to help his friend, but that Jake was likely to feel even worse if he did that. I told him that he would probably feel that it was like charity, and he likely wouldn't accept it.
"I have another idea though," I said to him as I smiled.
I went over and spoke to the manager and came back.
"Tell Jake to come back over here," I said with a smile on my face.
When he arrived, I said that the manager just told us that they were putting the watches on sale for $12.50, as they wanted to clear the stock for some new merchandise and that they hadn't put the sign out yet. I told him if he wanted to buy one just to take it over to the manager at the cash. His face broke into a big smile and he chose the watch with the Mickey Mouse face and silver band and went to the cash.
"They're not on sale are they, Pop?" Sean asked with a smile on his face, after Jake had left.
"No, but Jake'll think they are."
I explained that I gave the manager the difference and told him not to let on to Jake what I had done. As far as Jake would know, the watch was on sale and he would have his souvenir for Pietro. I also realized that Jake would likely need more spending money in the next few days.
He came back and was very happy at the purchase, as he said his uncle would really enjoy the watch.
"Both of you are going to need some spending money in the next few days, so I'm going to give you each $100 as an allowance for being such great kids," I said as I smiled and handed them each the money.
Jake was reluctant to take the money at first, but Sean and I convinced him that he had earned it. The fact that Sean also got the same amount made him feel better about accepting it. Sean smiled at me when Jake wasn't looking, as he was very appreciative that I had helped Jake, and maintained his dignity. I was more than happy to do it, as I knew Jake and Sean would not take my generosity for granted.
I was thankful that the store had a service where they sent our parcels back to the hotel, so we didn't have to carry them around for the rest of the day. When we got outside, I told the boys they had to wear their ears. They were wearing their t-shirts as they had gone into the change room before we left the store and put them on. I thought there would be resistance to the ears, but I was wrong. They gleefully put them on their heads and proudly wore them.
As we made our way down Main Street USA, Mickey Mouse was approaching. He stopped and posed with the boys by his side. I was surprised when the boys willingly posed, as I thought they would think it was too 'sucky' for them, but I was amazed at what the power of Mickey could do. The girls and I took a picture, and then I had the girls join them and I took another picture of the 4 of them.
"Maybe we should go back and get you girls some ears," I said as Marty and I laughed.
We made our way to Cinderella Castle for a classic photo opportunity. Sean didn't know who Cinderella was, or the significance of the castle. I was beginning to understand how deprived his childhood had been, and I was so angry at his mother for her utter neglect. I vowed that I would fill in the gaps as much as I could. All of us explained about the fairy tale as we made our way over to the far end of the park and the 'It's a Small World' ride.
"I can't believe you want to go on this again, Dad," Carol said as she smiled.
"You know why. It was your Grandmother's favourite ride when she was here," I said as we made our way into one of the cars.
The catchy song played and the exhibits looked the same as when we were there in the early 90's, but I didn't care, as it was a trip down nostalgia lane for me.
"Boy, that was thrilling," Sean said sarcastically.
Carol and Katie explained the significance of the ride to me, and he felt a little sheepish.
"I'm sorry, Pop. I didn't know it meant so much to you," he said very apologetically.
"Let's go over to the Haunted Mansion. I think you'll find that more to your expectations," I said to the boys as I smiled.
Everyone liked this attraction, especially the boys who jumped many times as the spooky happenings unfolded as we made our way around the house.
"Whoa, did you see that ghost playing the organ," Jake said to Sean with wide eyes.
"What about that skeleton that jumped out. My heart's still pumping like crazy," Sean said as he put his hand over his heart.
By now I knew the boys were hungry (and I was guessing Marty as well) so we stopped at Auntie Gravitys Galactic Goodies and had some sandwiches, fruit and drinks.
"No Cokes, boys, milk instead. Maybe this afternoon I'll give in for one of your snacks," I said.
We were close to the Tomorrowland Speedway, and I thought this would be a good time to do this attraction, as the lineups were likely to be smaller right after lunch.
"Do we need a driver's licence?" Jake asked.
Carol, Katie, Marty and I started to laugh, and we tried to stop when we realized Jake was serious.
"I think you're Ok, Jake without one. I don't think you need insurance either," I said as I smiled at him.
I cringed as I watched the two of them driving all over the track, as I thought of what it would be like when Sean started driving.
"Did you see us pass that kid at the end of the race? We flew by him and almost won," Sean said to us as he exited the ride with a big smile on his face.
I didn't want to tell the two of them that the top speed on the cars was 7 miles per hour.
The rest of the afternoon was great, as we got to see some of the attractions in the various parts of the Magic Kingdom, such as Adventureland, Frontierland and Tomorrowland. There was so much, the boys had to choose what they thought would interest them the most.
They particularly liked the Tomorrowland Transit Authority ride, which was a skyway vehicle that took us on a tour of Tomorrowland. It didn't hurt that we were all tired, and the ride gave us a restful break.
We took in a few more attractions, as well as some ice cream at the Plaza Ice Cream parlour, and then hopped on the Walt Disney World Railroad and ended up at the main gate to the Magic kingdom. It was about 3 p.m. and I could see that we were all very tired, so we got the shuttle and made our way back to the hotel.
We all had a nap for about an hour and then went down to the pool to swim. Sean had on a special sun screen t-shirt, and he was comfortable swimming without having to worry about people looking at his back. I was happy with him wearing the t-shirt, as it protected his fair skin which was very susceptible to the sun.
After we had our swim, it was time to get ready for dinner. We were going to the fine dining restaurant, Victoria and Albert's, which required dinner jackets for the guys and dresses for the girls. The boys and I were going to wear our suits and ties. The girls hadn't seen the boys in their suits, and I knew they would be impressed when they saw them.
"Let's go easy on the cologne this time guys, " I hollered into their bathroom as they took their showers.
When we were ready we went down the hall to the girls' suite to have a drink before we went to dinner.
"Well, who are these two handsome guys," Katie said as she smiled at Sean and Jake.
"What happened to the ears?" Carol asked as she laughed.
By now Marty had smelled the cologne and couldn't resist teasing the boys.
"Hmm, isn't that Axe? Are you guys going to pick up chicks after dinner?" he said as we all laughed.
The boys both gave us a look.
We made our way down to the dining room and when we were seated, the boys quickly realized that this was a little more formal than the dining at the golf club. The table was set in the style of Victorian elegance. We had a fabulous meal, as the boys and I had the bacon wrapped filet mignon topped off by a chocolate truffle cheescake. The boys couldn't get over the attentive service, as a waiter with white gloves hovered over our table the whole time.
We made our way up to the suite to see the fireworks after we were finished. Again, the fireworks were spectacular, and by the time they were finished I could see the boys starting to nod off.
"I think it's time for you guys to go, as I see two sleepy Mouseketeers," Carol said as she pointed over to Sean and Jake who managed to open their eyes and smiled.
The boys went off to get ready for bed, as I did, after we left the girls' suite. I went in to their room to say goodnight after I washed up, and they were both sound asleep with the light on. I paused at the foot of their beds as I looked at these two special young boys that had come into my life. I felt a very satisfied glow as I tucked them in, turned out the light and went off to my room.