By Russell Burck
I’m a retiree who helps people who are getting ready to retire get rid of money worries and do what they want to do when they stop working. One of the things I like to do now that I’ve stopped working is to travel. In my travels, I love to pay attention to children. My wife, Dorothy, our son, Peter, and our daughter-in-law, Susan Hoines, were at Epcot in early December. 2013. During that time, several stories came to me. Here’s the first one.
Once upon a time there were two children, Martin, who was almost 6, and Mabel, who was just over 4. Martin and Mabel wished for one thing more than anything else. They wanted to see Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. All their friends had seen them. But Martin and Mabel’s daddy, Peter, said they didn’t have the money.
One day Peter came home and said, “Martin and Mabel, come here and sit down.”
Mabel danced around and her daddy said, “Mabel, when you’re sitting down and listening, I have something to tell you.”
Mabel sat down, the children listened, and Peter said, “You know how you’ve wanted to go to one place more than any other?” At the same time, the children shouted, “To see Mickey and Minnie?” Their dad said, “Yes. Now,” he said,” I have the money for the trip and we’re going to Epcot Center at Disneyworld.”
The children’s mouths dropped open, they put their hands on their cheeks, their eyes opened wide, and they shouted, “Wow!” Martin jumped up and down, and up and down, and clapped his hands. A little dance spun out of Mabel and kept her spinning till she couldn’t spin any more. In Orlando, Peter drove under the sign welcoming them to the Disney parks. Mabel cried out, “Look, Martin, there’s Mickey!” Martin said, “Yea. We’re here.” But as their daddy turned the car into the parking lot and said, “Here we are,” Martin saw a huge golf ball looming over everything. This is what the golf ball looked like as the family was entering the park.
Epcot World Showcase
Alt text: Picture of Epcot World Showcase from entrance to the park. The Showcase rests on two supports that slant into the ball. In the middle at the front is an array of mirrors.
Epcot World Showcase
Martin sounded worried, “This doesn’t look like the Magic Kingdom.” Peter said, “Wait.” When they went through the gates, they were excited because a light whirled around Mickey’s face until the park had accepted each of their tickets. There was also a little slot where they put a finger and in instrument took their fingerprints. That was exciting, they had never done that before.
Then Martin looked up and saw the ball again. It loomed over him and felt heavy. That made him want to see Mickey Mouse even more. He was sure that when they got inside, Mickey and Minnie would be there to greet them, but all they saw was plants held up on sticks and shaped like Goofy and another Disney character. They walked a bit further and saw plants like Mickey and Minnie. Here’s a picture of my wife, our son, and our daughter-in-law in front of the Mickey and Minnie plants:
Their mother, Maria, told them to sit on the curb in front of the plants and she took their picture. Mabel smiled, but Martin looked grumpy.
Mabel ran off and then called, “Martin, Martin, come look.” Maria said, “Martin, wait a minute.” Maria knelt down, sat down on the curb, put her arm around Martin, pulled him as close to herself as she could, and said, “You know how I tell you that it’s good to be grumpy when we’re grumpy and that we don’t have to pretend that we’re not grumpy?”
Martin said, “Yes, and I’m grumpy.” Maria smiled and said, “Yes, I can see. That’s just fine. And remember how I said, ‘Happiness comes from inside us, it doesn’t . . .”
Before she could finish her sentence, Martin said, “. . . come from outside. But right now, Mommy, I don’t feel happy inside.”
Maria said, “Yes, I know, and that’s all right, too. We feel the way we feel and we’re not nice to ourselves when we try to make ourselves feel different. I know that you thought Mickey and Minnie would come say hello to you. I promise you that you will get to see them while we’re here in Orlando.”
Martin grumbled, “But I want to see them now.” His mother said, “I know that, too, and I understand. But it won’t be today but it will be while we’re here on this trip to Orlando. In the meantime, there are a lot of fun things to do here. You’ll see. So today you have a choice: You can act grumpy or you can tell yourself, ‘I’m grumpy, but my happiness is inside, so I’m going to get less grumpy, and when I find the happiness inside, I’m going to have fun.’ Can you do that?”
Martin said, “Yes.” “Which choice are you going to make, Martin?” his mother asked.
“Feel grumpy and let the happiness come out when it’s ready and then have fun.”
His mother said, “See those water fountains that Mabel is playing in?”
“Mabel is asking you to join her in those fountains. Would it help you with your grumps if you went over there and stomped on some of those fountains till you got the grumps out?”
Martin said, “I don’t know but I’ll go stomp around.” Mabel was dancing over tiny spouts of water, splashing, putting her hands in the small fountains, holding her hand at the top of water spouts. She seemed happy.
Children playing in the water fountain for children
Alt text: Picture of children playing in a water fountain designed for children. The fountain has many spouts of water inside a ring of fountains spaced 8 inches to a foot apart. The water flows onto a multi-colored mosaic.
Caption: Children playing in the water fountain for children
Other children swung their legs over the tallest water spouts, which went up to their thighs, or held their hands out at the top of the spout.
Children checking the height of water spouts in the fountain for children
Alt text: Picture of three children, two girls and apparently a boy, putting their hands in taller spouts of water in the water fountain designed for children. Picture shows that multi-colored mosaic the water flows onto.
Caption: Children playing in the water fountain for children
Martin didn’t dance. He stomped on some of the spouts. He jumped on them with both feet. He pounded his left foot on one tiny fountain and his right foot on another. He stomped and stomped. He tried to see how many little fountains he could shut down at one time. He covered as many as he could with his feet and his hands at the same time. He put his head down to try to stop another one, but his neck wasn’t long enough to reach it. He jumped from one group of fountains to another, and then he started to laugh. He said to Maria, “There’s just too many for me to stop them all. Even if I lied down, I couldn’t stop them all.” Maria smiled. So the first thing that Martin did at Epcot when he started out feeling unhappy was to let himself grump. He was even happy that he could be grumpy. When he saw something funny, he laughed and noticed the happiness inside coming back. He noticed that he liked to feel the happiness again, but he also noticed that he wasn’t unhappy about being grumpy.
Stomping in the water and trying to stop it all himself was the second thing he did when they were at Epcot but wanted to be at the Magic Kingdom.
The third thing he did happened while they were going to the Marrakech Restaurant. Going over a bridge, Martin saw a bird swimming below. He said, “Mabel, come look, a duck.” They climbed up on the railing so they could look over and see the “duck,” which their mom, who knew a lot about birds, said, “Oh, that’s a coot.”
The coot swam left and picked at the water, then right and picked at the water, then left and right again, picking at things. Suddenly there was a big plop and the children gasped. They shouted and laughed, “Oh, it dived!” They looked for it to come up, but they couldn’t see it because it came up under the bridge. They jumped down from the railing and ran on to other adventures. I’ll tell you about them later.
Here’s a short video of the coot: https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=g7QLXKLnpeE
Alt text: The video shows a coot swimming in the water close a bridge at Epcot. The coot is picking at the water, left and right. Then it dives and doesn’t reappear in the video. It apparently surfaced under the bridge.
Caption: Coot swimming in canal at Epcot
© Russell Burck, 2013
Categories: Travel, Epcot, children
Tags: being unhappy, being grumpy, fountains for children, retirement, retirees’ money worries, Dottie Burck, Peter Burck, Susan Hoines, Russell Burck, coot, happiness