Surprise. They Don’t Like Surprises.

The latest wonder of my world: is it really possible that some people, in particular two people born of my very DNA, don’t like to be surprised?

In college, I almost show up a day earlier than my parents expected.  SURPRISE!  I’m home on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, not Wednesday. Surprise!! I’m home on December 20th, not December 21st.  It’s hard to imagine they didn’t catch on, but then again, we all like surprises. You know how some people are susceptible to hypnosis? Well, we Hamills are susceptible to surprises.

When I was newly engaged, my mom asked me what kind of bridal shower I had in mind (at home, at a restaurant, etc.).  “A surprise one,” I answered right away.  I completely requested a surprise party, and that’s just what I got when I showed up a few months later at my parent’s home for what I thought was a day of dress shopping and shower invitation assembly.  I was a little annoyed, but oddly not suspicious that I’d left my apartment on Boston’s Newbury Street to go dress shopping in the ‘burbs, not to mention I was responsible for stuffing my own shower invitations.  I loved that surprise party as much as the one my mom hosted for my 14th birthday, as much as the one my college friends threw for me the day I took the LSATs, as much as the few I have planned for friends and family.

Well, the verdict is in: susceptible or not, my kids don’t enjoy surprises nearly as much I do.

I pulled a trifecta on them last week: after five days at Gigi Pearl’s house, they each found a box like this waiting for them one morning.

lego box

legoland plans

The Lego travel boxes were a hit (check out the DIY here), and so was the destination, but they didn’t LOVE being surprised.  I expected shrieks and jumping up and down; instead, I got quiet, confused smiles.

After driving to our hotel in Orlando, we “bumped” into both boys’ best friends from home at the pool.  Surprise!  There was no crying or bad behavior but not quite the happy delirium that I expected.  Within minutes, they were relaxed and happy to be together but they clearly were not so thrilled about being surprised.  Ditto, the next day, when we surprised them after a day at Legoland with dinner at Disney World with their cousins, aunt and uncle.  Ryan looked embarrassed and uncomfortable — not at all what I intended.


I was aiming for happy, but how did the surprises make them feel? Dopey? Bashful? Grumpy?

I’ve thought a lot about why the surprises fell flat.  I think this is it: kids spend a lot of time getting ready – ready for school, ready for karate, ready for bed.  If ready is so important, it must feel awfully weird to be surprised, standing there so un-ready to see your best friend or best cousins.

My oldest is becoming very independent and like the rest of us, he likes to be right and in charge. I think the surprise might have been happier if I had given Ryan even five minutes notice of what was about to happen. Or maybe five days.  Or five months. Perhaps, for some, anticipating good things is as lovely as being surprised.

I, for one, am still daydreaming of the morning when my husband wakes me up, relieves me of my day’s duties and sends me shopping to the outlets with my friends or sisters.

Lousy surprise predictions aside, the trip did not otherwise disappoint.  I was so glad we added a weekend in Orlando to our great visit with Gigi.  Our mini-parks vacation – day at Legoland and a day at the Magic Kingdom with best friends and cousins – was just right.

A Look at Legoland:

once upon

…Our family went to Legoland. The park was clean and manageable, the crowds were small and the kids could go on nearly every ride.  The waffle sticks with whipped cream, chocolate and sprinkles weren’t bad either.



We loved the Lego shows and hand-on activities, like this WeDo Construction workshop Ryan and I attended, where we built an alligator, then programmed it to open and close his mouth to chomp on food.

legoland car

Everything is made out of Legos. Everything. That little hot dog vendor. The boy walking his dog. Everything.


All Legoland staff have a few Lego Mini-Figures on their name tags and are happy to trade them with guests. This guy is the hottest thing in the park with “TRADE ME” and “TAKE A LOOK” tags all over his minifigure-clad shirt – front and back. If you go, bring lots of mini figures (even mismatched) from home for a fun (free-ish) souvenir.

Day at Disney World (slightly soggy)


The cousins would have been happy just riding the monorail all day together.


wet MK

mn street


Don’t forget to check out our LEGO TRAVEL BOXES  – easy to create for your next road trip.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Mandy says:

    Looks like such a fun trip, Jodie! I love the pictures of Legoland. My inlaws live close to that park and I can’t wait to take my kiddos at some point. Oh and I’m definitely a “no-surprise” girl. Sometimes I wish I enjoyed them more, but I agree that people are definitely in the boat of loving surprises or getting completely stressed out by them 🙂

  2. stacey says:

    We’re so glad you added the weekend in Orlando too – the day at Magic Kingdom was perfect! If it makes you feel better, the planning of the surprise and the anticipation of the Big Reveal (the kids’ tame reaction notwithstanding) was SO MUCH FUN for me. So thanks for that too. xoxo.

Speak Your Mind


Switch to our mobile site