“If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail,” – Benjamin Franklin.
I’ve adopted this quote and etched it into the cornerstone of my existence. Great words to live by when the application works successfully.
Have you ever seen a Mom meltdown at the front of a tilt-a-whirl? Well, I didn’t actually meltdown outwardly; it was one of those, scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs on the inside, meltdowns. I just purchased my daughters, Donae, 8, and Rhonda-Rene, 5, full access wristbands to Safari Land in Villa Park. Rhonda-Rene, my amusement park enthusiast, vehemently refused to ride ANY of the rides. For those who find my reaction meritless to her offense trust me, this was but ONE of several failures in my perfectly planned day!
I wasn’t even supposed to be at an indoor amusement park. I was supposed to be photographing a ‘Building Relationships with At-Risk Students’ workshop at the Hilton Oak Lawn, being facilitated by my husband, Dr. Don Parker. A Doctor of Education, he’s been in the field 18 years, 12 as an administrator in suburban school districts around Illinois. Because of his desire to impact the youth outside his school district, he created workshops that he conducts throughout Illinois and beyond. I’m normally unable to attend but since Oak Lawn is a stone’s throw from home, I made arrangements to be present.
Just to be certain the girls didn’t feel slighted by our spring break trip starting a day late, I found a one-day youth camp for them at a local park district. Having never been to its location, a drive-by the day before left me confident I wouldn’t be scrambling to find it the next morning.
A pop-up alert on my phone reminded me they also needed a brownbag lunch. Seeing as our cupboards were bare, a grocery store trip was the prelude to packing them. Anticipating the girls would be sluggish come morning, I made sure to do their hair and selected coordinating outfits the night before. My head hit the pillow with assuredness. What went wrong?
Camp started at 9 a.m., it was 9:15. Why was the park district parking lot empty? Worried by what I saw, I called inside. “I apologize ma’am, due to low enrollment, camp was canceled today,” said the director of the program. “Sorry for the inconvenience.”
I wish you could have seen how I contorted my face at that news.
We were all dolled up with nowhere to go. I needed an alternative for the kids, especially Rhonda-Rene, who has special needs. I had prepared their minds for a fun-filled-day and I had to deliver. A quick Google search put us on I-294, 45 minutes north, to a recreational arena that had apparently closed. “Notice to vacate,” was what the sign read on the front door.
I suppose the Internet is slow about removing inaccurate content? Note to self, call ahead.
It was 10 a.m. when I turned the steering wheel in the direction of Villa Park, 30 minutes east of our location. We found a nearby Portillo’s and stretched our patience with an extended 90 minute lunch until Safari Land opened at noon. We were the first ones in the door. Having access to all the rides with no waiting would be our consolation prize for the morning’s inconveniences. So I thought.
I pulled out my credit card and paid for two non-refundable or shareable wristbands to which Rhonda-Rene responded, “No!” to every single ride I convincingly requested she board.
I stood in front of that tilt-a-whirl looking into the rafters of their ceiling. At that point even Donae was disheartened. “Unbelievable!” we said, simultaneously.
All that effort to make things right and it all went sideways. Pushing through the interstate traffic got us back home just as Don was coming in. “What happened,” he asked? “Thought you were coming?”
After explaining our National Lampoon’s Vacation of a day, he said, “I’m really proud of you?” Pardon me for being dumbfounded because I didn’t get his feedback at all.
“Huh,” I questioned?
“You’re resilient. With everything that came at you today, you had enough wherewithal to adapt and forge ahead. You were resourceful and you persevered. You embody every quality of resilience, you have the mental ability to recover quickly,” he expounded.
Don imparted a blessing in my spirit when he told me that. I let it simmer for several minutes thereafter. From his vantage point, I suppose I’d had a successful day after all. I went to bed that evening with a different quote in my head though, “You can plan a perfect picnic but you can’t predict the weather.” Author-unknown.