I have to admit that originally I was going to title this “Your Son Just Bitch-Slapped A Mammoth” but my blog cross-posts to my Twitter which is followed by a lot of educational professionals and I thought it wouldn’t be the best to put that on my page. I’m honestly not the type to have a bunch of different social media for different facets of my life so some small concessions have to be made. Not saying “bitch-slapped” is one of those concessions.
God I hope ya’ll are ready for a rambling post because this is not starting off well.
I have mentioned a handful of times that I have never had the chance to meet my nephew. He was born in April 2016 while my younger sister was stationed with the air force in Japan. My schedule and bank account didn’t really give me a chance to go visit. The odds got a little better when she was moved to a base in Wyoming but, as I’ve mentioned, it’s hard for me to take time off from both bartending and touring because vacation time doesn’t exist.
My older sister, Shannon, owns a time share here in Orlando and since she is on vacation from school this week, she decided to come down and visit, inviting my little sister along. Since my brother-in-law is busy with school, Mel thought it would be a good idea to bring Oliver (Ollie) along.
Shannon arrived in town on Saturday night and came to visit me at work. Well, she came to find alcohol and I was just an added bonus. That was an adventure in itself but that’s a post for another time.
My schedule this week was a bit funky and as a result I had Sunday off which worked out perfectly. Shannon and I went to brunch at Sugar Factory and caught up. We’ve actually been really bad about keeping in touch and we agreed to split the blame on that one.
Following a trip to Target, it was time to grab Melinda and Ollie from the airport. It dawned on me that it’s been just over four years since I have seen Mel. Last time was Christmas, pre-baby, in 2014 which is also the last time all four of us siblings were together.
I would like the record to reflect that we were on a quest to find a liquor store in middle-of-nowhere Georgia because that is how our family survives the holidays.
I will be honest in that I was actually super nervous about meeting Ollie. I really don’t have much experience with young kids and I was worried he wasn’t going to like me. This sounds weird considering he’s barely three but I’m also a crazy person so there were a lot of emotions flying around.
Mel spotted us before we did her, mostly because Shannon and I were distracted by a very strange-looking family. I really have no words to describe them other than the dad didn’t seem to care that his shirt didn’t fit him and his stomach was hanging out all over the place.
Shannon has seen Ollie a handful of times so he immediately knew who she was. He was a bit shy when it came to me but the feeling was mutual so we were even. Shannon also has a lot more experience with kids so she was far more comfortable with him than I was. I was freaking out all over the place.
Like ya do.
The two had been delayed coming out of Denver and were starving so we headed to Disney Springs for lunch. Shannon entertained Ollie in the back seat while Mel and I caught up as I drove. Ollie had some toy dinosaurs with him and he and Shannon were making all sorts of dinosaur noises. This got it in my head that we should go to the T-Rex Café in Disney Springs. This is essentially Rainforest Café but with Dinosaurs and every twenty minutes there’s a meteor shower.
This is really cool until you realize that it was meteors that whipped out the dinosaurs and so basically there’s a mass extinction every twenty-minutes making the whole experience just a bit morbid.
Not one to keep these thoughts to myself, I shared them with my sisters a brought the whole mood down a few pegs.
When we first got to the Café it was super busy and I was skeptical that we’d be able to get a table. I checked the My Disney Experience App for reservations but nothing was available. Defeated, I suggested we check out the gift shop before searching for food elsewhere.
Ollie was enamored by the whole thing and was baffled when the giant T-Rex in the front of the restaurant started moving. Initially I thought he was going to freak out and start crying because, leave it to me to scar a child for life upon first meeting. He went through a range of emotions but never freaked out and ended up loving it.
When the Rex started moving again Ollie motioned for me to pick him up so he could see. At this point, I hadn’t held him at all, leaving it to Shannon and Mel. I was freaked out because I’m the clumsiest person I know and Ollie was already sporting a small bruise from having fallen at the airport that morning. I didn’t want to give him a full-on concussion.
Still, I’m a good uncle so I picked him up and we enjoyed the moving dinosaurs together. Turns out Shannon started snapping pictures of the moment. I really can’t tell who was loving the dinosaurs more.
Wanting to give him the full experience, I went up to the podium to see what the wait was going to be. The line had completely disappeared while we were wandering the shop and it turned out we wouldn’t have to wait for long at all.
We got to our table and ordered. Ollie was in awe of everything going on around us and the two of us decided to stroll around the restaurant to check everything out. My fears about holding him slipped away when I realized it wasn’t that hard and I was being ridiculous. I did, however, learn that I have to pay attention when holding him because I repeatedly hit random strangers with his feet as we walked around.
As we walked through the ice cave we came across a baby wooly mammoth who was moving his trunk all over. Ollie reached out, wanting to pet him. I was hesitant because I was pretty sure we weren’t supposed to touch it but the kid was so damn cute I couldn’t say no. I moved him close enough to pet it’s trunk and the mammoth made a quick move that startled both of us. Ollie reacted in the best way possible, by bitch-slapping the thing.
I quickly walked the two of us away from the thing while doing my best not to laugh too hard.
After lunch we decided to walk around Springs a bit to check things out. We had decided that Ollie was too young for the parks, especially since it’s going to be busy this week. I really, now, want nothing more than to take him to Disney but I know it’ll be more of a pain than it’s worth. I told Mel she needs to start planning to come back in the off season. Maybe for his birthday!
Ollie stayed with me while we walked and I learned how truly heavy an almost three-year-old is. I didn’t mind since it was fun walking him around the stores as he asked me to identify Disney characters. I had sent him a ton of Disney stuffed animals for Christmas including a Donald Duck (my favorite) so he was well versed.
All said and done, it was wonderful to finally meet him and to be able to catch up with my sisters. We’re heading to Universal this afternoon for a big-kid day in the parks. I’m really tempted to tell them we should bring Ollie but I know it wouldn’t be fun. Neither Shannon or Mel has been to Universal and with Mardi Gras going on, we’re going to want to have some drinks and have fun and that’s a bit tough with a toddler.
I have Thursday off as well so the four of us might go on another adventure around Orlando. Or I’ll just kidnap Ollie and take him to Hollywood Studios. I really can’t wait to take him to Disney. Though it might be mean for his first trip to not involve his parents.
Either way, I feel like I could really get used to this uncle thing.