This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This story is protected by copyright. It may not be downloaded or copied for other than your private enjoyment and may not be changed in any way without the expressed written consent of the author. This story may not be put on any other site without the author's express written consent.
The next morning when we went to breakfast at the 1900 Park Fare, we were greeted by the Caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland. Sean shook his head in disgust as he passed him, and started looking around the room. I was guessing that it was Alice that he was looking for.
"I think she's a little old for you, " Marty said as he smiled at Sean.
"Who?" Sean said, trying to cover up.
"You know who, buddy," he said as we all laughed.
We got to our table and we noticed Jake wasn't with us. When we looked back at the entrance, he was with the next group of people still talking to the Caterpillar. We finally caught his attention, and he bounced over to the table and joined us.
"Do you think there's two people in there?" he asked with a big smile.
"I don't know. Why didn't you ask him? You were having such a great conversation with him," I said as I laughed.
The boys once again piled their plates high and stuffed themselves. I was making sure they got enough calcium and made them each have a bowl of yogurt, as well as their milk and large orange juices.
Mary Poppins was the main character for the morning, and she came over to our table. She was a little older than Alice from the day before, but was very pretty nonetheless. Sean paid particular notice again, and when she asked him a question, his voice cracked when he spoke. We all chuckled which made him very self-conscious, as we weren't thinking of how traumatic this was. After she had left the table, we all apologized to him and tried to make him feel better.
"Don't be embarrassed, Sean, that means you're growing up," I said as I smiled at him. "Next thing you know you'll be shaving."
I was sure the shaving thing would be a long way off, as he didn't even have a hint of hair on his face. Jake however was another story. He had some black fuzz on his upper lip already, and I knew he would be shaving before the next school year was out. Sean seemed to calm down after that and when we left the table, Marty and I walked beside him with our hands on his shoulders.
"Every guy goes through it, Sean," Marty said as he smiled at him. "I used to sound like a seal when mine was changing."
He smiled, but I could see that he was still bothered by it. I was hoping he didn't clam up to keep from being embarrassed. Marty walked on ahead and left Sean and me walking alone.
"How come stuff always happens to me?" he said with his head bowed.
"Can't you remember when Jake's voice went like this," I said.
"Yeah, but that was Jake."
"I don't understand?"
"Stuff like that doesn't bother him or anything," he said as he looked at me.
"Do you understand what I mean by the glass being half full or half empty?" I asked.
"Sort of," he said a little unsure of what I meant.
"Jake's glass is always half full. That's his disposition. I understand why you think your glass is half empty from your past, but you have to start thinking your glass is half full too," I said as I put my arm around his shoulders.
"You have so much going for you. You're a smart boy, you're talented, and you're a great kid. I think some great 'stuff' has happened to you in the last few weeks, and there is a bunch more going to happen in the future. You have to relax and let it happen. And, you have a family that cares a great deal for you."
I could feel him relax as the tenseness in his shoulders went away. He stopped looking at the ground and started to hold his head up.
"Your voice cracking is a good thing because it means you're growing up and becoming a man."
We walked a few more steps, and I could see he was deep in thought. Finally he looked up at me and said, "Thanks, Pop," as he gave me a big smile.
We decided to go the Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park first and Epcot the next day. The boys were looking forward to a couple of attractions they had heard about, and so were the Girls and Marty.
As we entered through the gates we decided to head on over to the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith. I wasn't too sure I wanted to go on it, but Carol talked me into it and I agreed. I figured if Carol was Ok with the ride, I would tough it out.
Sean stopped in front of the ride and took a picture with his camera, as well as his cell phone. He then slowly walked beside us as he was occupied with either texting or calling someone on his phone.
"Are you calling someone," I asked.
Rather than patiently wait for him to tell me I said, "Let me guess. You're texting Melissa?" I asked as I smiled.
He realized I wasn't going to give up so he reluctantly answered, "I'm sending Melissa the picture I just took," he said as he smiled.
I chuckled to myself, as he certainly was a typical teenage technophile. Whereas in my day, I would have had to have taken the film to be developed before I showed it to my girlfriend, he was part of the instant communication age, and Melissa was able to share this as soon as she turned on her cell phone.
The cars on the ride resembled a big limo, that accelerated from a stand-still stop to high speeds then swooped into 3 inversions. I was getting really nervous watching the ride from the ground, but I decided I would confront my fears and not back out.
As we were getting ready to get into the cars, the young man that was seating people turned to Katie and Marty and said, "Do your sons want to sit in the front of the car?"
Both Sean and Jake had big grins on their faces, and Katie and Marty were a little embarrassed. Carol and I were seated in the car behind them, and before we took off, I couldn't resist and I leaned forward and said to Marty and Katie, "A couple of grandsons would be nice, don't you think boys?" I said as I looked at Sean and Jake in the front seat.
Carol and the boys laughed, and I turned to Carol and said, "That goes for you too, daughter."
Now the only people who were smiling were the boys and me. Thank goodness for Katie, Marty, and Carol that the ride started, as I was just getting wound up.
As I guessed, the ride was every bit as terrifying as I thought. Not even the sounds of 'Don't Want To Miss A Thing' and 'Sweet Emotion' by Aerosmith playing, as we hurled through the air, made it any better. About half way through I could see the two boys with their arms in the air at the front of the car having a great time. When we got off the car, I guess I looked a little pale.
"Serves you right, Dad, for giving us a hard time," Katie said as she smiled at me.
When I recovered, I thought I'd fill Sean and Jake in on some trivia.
"I'm sure you boys have seen 'Lord of the Rings'. The actress that played Arwen Undómiel was Liv Tyler, who was the daughter of the lead singer of Aerosmith, Steven Tyler."
Amazingly, both Jake and Sean had seen the movies and remembered the character we were talking about.
They couldn't believe that Steven Tyler was her father, as they had seen his picture, and as Sean put it, "She's hot and he's old."
"Does that mean if you're old you're not hot?" I asked with a wry grin.
When he thought about what he said he started to blush.
"I think Melissa's grandmother is hot," I said as I smiled at him. "I guess it all depends on your perspective," I said as I put my hand on his shoulder.
The girls, Marty and the boys thought that since we were so close to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, that we might as well try it next. With a name like Tower of Terror, it didn't sound like a ride I wanted to go on, and I noticed after the last ride Carol was having second thoughts. Since she had cajoled me into going on the last ride, I shamed her into going on this one.
We decided to switch up the seating this time, and Sean was sitting with me, Jake was with Marty and the two girls were together.
The ride was based on the old 1960's show the Twilight Zone. The ride takes place in the Hollywood Tower Hotel and you supposedly traveled to the fifth dimension and plunge down a dark freight elevator shaft.
As the car moved forward a story was explained over the speakers, of some fictitous event. Sean started to ask me about what was said, as he didn't quite understand the whole idea, when all of a sudden we passed through some doors and the car went into a free-fall down the elevator shaft. As if that wasn't bad enough, we bounced back up, and then plunged back down again.
The whole time, Sean was screaming, as were the others, and his voice was cracking. It was amusing to listen to him and it somewhat diverted my attention from the fact that my stomach was thrust upwards into my throat and back down again. I was pleased that he hadn't clammed up because of his voice, and I was glad that my little talk was apparently successful.
When we got off the ride, Jake started asking questions about the whole idea of a Twilight Zone. He couldn't quite grasp the concept, and what we meant by the fifth dimension, so we had to explain it to him.
"So that Zone thing isn't real?" he asked with a serious look on his face.
"It's science fiction, Jake. It's supposed to make you think about what's real and what's not," I said.
I was getting a sense that Jake was a bit of a deep thinker. He wasn't as into technical things like Sean was, but he was more interested in philosophical and social issues. He quietly thought about this for a couple of minutes as we walked on to the next attraction.
We made our way over to the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, as the girls and I remembered the attraction from the early 90's. We had to explain the movies to the boys as they hadn't seen any of the series.
They were mesmerized by the special effects and both of them were quite interested in how they were done. We explained what we could, and the boys had quite a conversation to themselves as we made our way out.
"I know they're being entertained, but their brains have been stimulated today," Carol said as she smiled.
I had to agree with her, and I was quite pleased at the interest and curiosity they had shown in the last two attractions. The four of us could see that there was a little more to the two of them than just giddy teenage boys.
We decided to have lunch at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre. It was set up like a drive-in theatre, as the tables were like convertible cars, and Sci-fi movies were playing on a movie screen as we ate. I relented and we had a good old-fashioned cheeseburger, fries and coke meal.
"These are really lame movies," Sean said as Jake and he laughed.
"I noticed the meal wasn't lame. Did you two inhale it," I said as Marty, and the girls and I laughed.
They also had polished off half of Carol's and my french fries, as neither of us could finish our portion.
"We've got to have the banana split sundae to top it off," Katie said as she smiled.
The boys had big grins on their faces as the desserts were brought to the table. Even they were full when we were finished. Mind you they once again had helped Carol and I finish ours.
"Oh, I can hardly move," Jake said as he held his tummy.
"Don't ask me to carry you, as you probably weigh 20 pounds more after that feast," I said as I laughed.
We made our way over to the Studio Backlot tour next. It was a tour of a working movie and television studio, complete with a street that just had building facades. The boys were amazed at some of the tricks that were used to film television shows and movies. Sean was able to understand the blue screen technology, where an image is superimposed on a blue background, but we had to explain to Jake how it was done. Sean had a better technical brain than Jake.
At the end of the tour, we were led into a studio, that was set up like a newscast. They were looking for 3 volunteers to be the news anchor, weatherman and sportscaster. Jake enthusiastically put up his hand, and was chosen, along with Sean, who was a reluctant volunteer. Finally the director convinced Sean and he agreed to be the weatherman, and Jake was the sportscaster.
The director briefed the boys and the other volunteer, as the producer set up what was going to happen, to the rest of the tour participants who were the audience.
The cameras started to roll and Sean's part was first after he was cued by the anchorman. He did a great job, and wasn't nervous at all. He had no trouble as he waived his hand in front of the blank blue wall, while he looked at the teleprompter that had the weather maps displayed, with him superimposed in front of it.
Then it was Jake's turn. He started by reading the script from the teleprompter, which was some baseball scores. However, it was obvious after some moments that he was ad-libbing, as he started to give hockey scores, and game events, as well as European soccer scores. The director's jaw dropped, as he couldn't believe what Jake was doing.
"My goodness, young man, you're quite a natural," the director said to Jake as he put his arm around him as he led him back to us in the audience after they were finished.
Jake was smiling from ear-to-ear. We also fussed over Sean, as all of us were surprised how he was so confident.
The girls and Marty were walking ahead fussing over Sean, and Jake and I were walking together behind them as we left the studio.
"Were you nervous at all?" I asked him.
He said he wasn't, and that he just made up all the stuff on the spot. He said it was easy, as he just remembered how they did it on TV at home.
"You have a real gift, young fellow. You need to take advantage of every opportunity to speak in front of people," I said as I put my arm around him and gave him a small hug.
We grabbed an ice cream cone at a bakery outside the studio, and sat down at the tables. The boys were by themselves replaying their experience, and the girls, Marty and I were at another one.
"You know, Dad, the two of them have a lot of raw talent," Katie said.
"I couldn't believe Jake making up all that stuff on the spot," Carol said.
"I think the one that really surprised me was Sean. He certainly came out of his shell. He wasn't even phased when his voice cracked halfway through," Marty said as he smiled.
They were right, and I hoped that I could cultivate those gifts, not only in Sean but also in Jake. I was also pleased that Sean was thinking his glass was half full when he didn't react negatively to his voice.
I had been giving some thought over the past few days about what I could do to get Pietro and Jake to live in the town with us, so Jake could go to school and grow up with Sean in our community. I had an idea, but I needed to do some more thinking about this.
It was now later in the afternoon, and we were all pooped. However, I wanted to stop at the Emporium souvenir shop in Magic Kingdom to pick something up that I thought Sean would need soon.
We went over to the section with the backpacks, and I asked Sean to pick one out. We helped him and he got one with the Disney logo, and Mickey mouse on the back pocket. He was happy, but he wasn't overjoyed. He became a little quiet as we made our way to the cash.
"Is there anything wrong?" I asked.
He didn't answer, but he shook his head no. I then realized that the backpack brought his mind back to the fact that he was going to go to school when he got back.
"You'll be fine Sean. Don't get bent out of shape. Remember, the glass is half full," I said as I smiled at him.
We left the store and as we were walking to the gate to get the hotel shuttle, I put my arms around both boys as we walked.
"I'm really proud of both of you, for the way you were able to perform in the studio back there. I'm also having a great time just being with you two," I said as I smiled at the two of them.
Jake smiled and Sean loosened up and smiled as well.
We went swimming and hot tubbing after we got back to the Grand Floridian. Both boys really enjoyed the pool, especially Sean who was becoming very comfortable in the water. This also helped me clarify my idea about getting Pietro and Jake to our town to live, and I was going to send an email from my laptop when I got back to the room, to get the ball rolling.
The boys had their showers and changed into more casual clothing for dinner. We were going to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Pioneer Hall in Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. It was an old-fashioned dinner show that included music, comedy and a family-style dinner. It featured rousing country & western dancing and singing and vaudeville comedy.
As the brochure said, we were going to chow down on pails of all-you-can-eat American favorites like fried chicken, smoked BBQ pork ribs, seasonal vegetables, baked beans, fresh baked corn bread and strawberry shortcake. I was hoping that they had lots of food, as both boys' eyes opened wide as they had big smiles when we explained the all-you-can-eat nature of the meal.
"I'm sure you won't need a late night snack tonight when we get back to the hotel," I said as I chuckled.
As I suspected, the waiters had to make a few trips back to our table, as the boys and Marty polished off quite a bit of food. They also got their way, and they had a bottomless glass of Coke, which was served in Mason jars.
"Get your fill, boys, it's going to be milk, juice and water tomorrow, " I said as I smiled.
When we finished eating, the show started. It was a corny bit of country & western skits, but was very entertaining. Both boys liked country music, and western movies, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. They were tapping their feet in time to the music as the various acts performed.
The finale involved people from the audience coming to the stage to join in some simple square dancing. They asked for volunteers to just come to the stage, and naturally Jake turned to me to see if it was Ok to go up. Before I could say yes, Katie got up and took his hand, and Carol took Sean's hand and the four of them went to the stage. The look on both boys' faces was priceless.
The square dancing was hysterical, as my daughters who were trained dancers, led their teenage partners through the various steps. All four of them had a great time, and were laughing away. Even Sean showed no sign of being inhibited, and needless to say Jake wasn't either.
They came back to the table with both girls having their arms around the boys shoulders. The girls thanked the two of them for the dance, and proceeded to kiss them on the cheek, before they sat back down. Both boys were surprised by the show of affection, but surprisingly neither of them seemed to be embarrassed. I guess both of them were getting used to the kissing and hugging thing.
"You two boys were well coordinated up there. I guess you had great partners to lead you around," I said as Marty and I laughed.
Both of my girls were competitive dancers when they were in their teens, and even though they had never square danced before, they were able to pick it up fairly quickly and lead the boys through the steps.
When we got back to the hotel after the show, we were too late to see the fireworks, and we just went to bed.
The next morning the White Rabbit met us at the door to the 1900 Park Fare restaurant, and again Jake paused to have a friendly conversation with him. The girls, Marty and I were amused at Jake's upbeat uninhibited personality, and all of us were very attached to him and very happy at the influence he had on Sean.
"I'm going to have to read the book again when I get back. I'd forgotten about the White Rabbit," Jake said as we walked to our table.
Sean decided to play it cool and tried not to look too obvious as he scanned the room to see if Alice or Mary Poppins was about. Unfortunately for him, neither one of them made their way to the table.
"Sorry buddy, I guess you've lost your charm today," Marty said as we all laughed.
Sean loosened up and laughed with us.
After breakfast, we made our way over to Epcot, which was the last theme park. The first thing we did was go on the Spaceship Earth ride through the big dome that is the icon of Epcot. The boys were impressed with the displays that started with prehistoric man and finished with the information age. After we got off our 'time machines', which is what the cars were called, we made our way over to Project Tomorrow: Inventing the Wonders of the Future, an interactive play area with games and informative displays that showcased the latest technologies in medicine, transportation and energy management.
"Was that ever neat," Sean said with a big smile, as we were leaving the exhibit.
Jake was equally impressed, and I was glad the two of them liked the attraction, as I could see it further stimulated their curiosity. It was a thought provoking experience that both boys were fascinated with.
We spent the rest of the morning in the International village and the boys enjoyed learning about the different countries. They also enjoyed the food, as we had to sample something from each country.
After lunch we made our way over to Soarin', an Imax movie. As we were lining up a very rude family cut in front of us. We weren't happy, but we weren't going to make a big deal out of it. However, Jake wasn't satisfied. He became quiet, and I could see that look in his eyes that I saw the other day when he took the clerk in the Emporium store to task. I looked away for a second, and when I turned back, he had walked up to the family and was talking to them.
"That's really rude to butt in like that, sir," he said to the father.
"Buzz off, kid," the father replied.
"That's a really lousy example for your kids," Jake said as he stared at him.
By now I thought I should step in, as I could see the man getting very agitated. I told him Jake was right, and the man backed off as he could see I wasn't very happy with him. We went back to our place in line, and I knew that Jake wasn't satisfied with the outcome.
I told the girls, Marty and Sean what had happened and when I turned around Jake had taken off. He wasn't talking to the man, but I couldn't see him. I became a little panicked, and Marty and I took off looking for him.
We found him at the front of the line talking to the attendant in charge of the attraction. We came in at the tail end of the conversation just in time to hear the attendant ask Jake to take him to the offenders.
Marty and I followed them back and watched as the attendant asked the family to move to the back of the line. The man became somewhat abusive, and the attendant called security. A few moments later two security guards removed them from the line, and they walked away rather than take up the rear.
"Remind me not to get on your bad side," Marty said to Jake.
After things calmed down, we entered the attraction and were thoroughly entertained. We were lifted by hydraulics 10 feet into the air, and were able to see the 360° Imax film at eye level. It was a spectacular view, and it seemed as if you were in a plane flying over the scenery for real.
By now it was time to leave and go back to the resort, as we all wanted a swim and hot tub before dinner.
Once again, the boys loved the time in the water and had a great time floating and splashing each other. After about an hour we all made our way back to the suites to clean up and get ready for dinner.
We all got dressed into our formal wear for the dinner at Citrico's. It was not quite as formal as Victoria and Albert's, but we all felt like getting dressed up for our last night at Disney. Tomorrow after breakfast we would be heading out to Dunedin and the preseason Blue Jay's game.
The meal was great, as the boys and I started with a Caesar salad and had braised short ribs, with lemon risotto for the main course. Dessert was a Tiramisu.
After dinner we made our way to the girls' suite to see the fireworks for the last time. Again it was a great display and since we were all tired, the boys and I said goodnight and made our way back to our suite.
"Why don't I say goodnight to you two now, so you don't have to go to sleep with the light on waiting for me to come into your room?" I said as I smiled at them in the hall to the bedrooms.
I gave them both a hug and they went off to their room to get ready. I poured myself a small glass of wine and sat down in the armchair in my room after I got ready for bed. I quietly reflected on how much I was looking forward to the next few years raising Sean. I was also hoping my plan involving Jake would work out, as I knew the two of us needed him in our lives.