The Happiest Place on Earth? Yes? No? Maybe So?

To all the parents I recently encountered and witnessed at Disney World.  This is for you:  

I saw you close your eyes, take a deep breath and tell yourself to have patience.  I saw you pull your child aside, point your finger and tell him you would not tolerate bad behavior.  I noticed your defeated look, your lack of expression and grin, and your need to escape.  I was paying attention when you were begging, (a.k.a yelling at) your daughter to keep her raincoat on, while yours was slowly falling apart.

We were surrounded by whiny, screaming, crying kids.  Not only did we have to deal with our own unpleasantry but I had to experience yours and you had to experience mine as well.  We knew we had to be strong for our children and take one for the team.  We had saved a lot for this trip, some of us traveling far, while others, a stone’s throw away.  We decided to take this trip to make our kid’s happy, to celebrate birthdays, and to create memories with our families.  We had high hopes but realistic expectations, aware of the potential bumps in the road ahead.

We told ourselves that lines were inevitable and prepared for food that would mostly be inedible.  We rushed and hurried, telling our kids to keep up and walk faster, only to wait in anticipation.  We sat with our little ones who were a few inches too short, wondering when the rest of our family would re-appear.  We were constantly worried we would lose one of our children and had the capability to turn our heads 360 degrees today.

The sky turned dark and the rain came down upon us, our fingers looking like prunes at the end of our journey.  We were forced to purchase garbage bags with arm holes and a logo for $9, but kept on going.  We were wet and cold but did not let the rain get in our way.  With our strollers soaked and our shoes squishy, we wondered why we were here, but soon realized we had no choice.  We had committed rain or shine and today, the former had come out to play.  We could only hope for the latter tomorrow and ignore our wet, chilly bones.

Our rain coats no longer offered protection.  We were beyond wet but knew rain had never melted anyone.  Our sorrow soon turned into laughter as we felt had no other option.  We chose to look at the glass half full, of rain water that is, and were experiencing a comical moment together.  We looked around, locked eyes and shook our heads in despair, all while sharing a smile.  We all knew what we were getting ourselves into and the fact we all felt the same way created a secret bond between us.

We questioned whether or not we really were in the happiest place on earth.  Maybe our misery, causing us to go slightly insane and into hysterics, disguised as laughter, is what made it the happiest place on earth.

Good feeling gone.  I didn’t really feel happy and you certainly didn’t look very happy five minutes ago.  We started fighting with our spouses, turning bitter, angry and frustrated, and swore this was the last time we would put ourselves in this situation.

Then everything changed.

A character that had only been seen on television through our child’s eyes was now standing right in front of us.  What was first disbelief and shock, causing tears and our children to hide between our legs, was replaced with nervous giggling and awe.  We witnessed the light in our child’s eyes as they met the star and king of Disney, up close and personal.   It was the sunlight we so desperately needed.

Mickey and Spencer

Despite the athlete’s foot we contracted from wearing wet shoes for multiple days, the lost cell phone that fell out of our pocket as we held on, and the hard bunk bed we were forced to sleep in as our children enjoyed our comfortable beds, we now understand why we were all here.  It was not about us at all but about them, which is not a new concept to us parents.

We did it…and probably could have done it better, but we did it.  We could have been more patient and less of a dictator.  We should have been more forgiving and less annoyed with our children for putting us in this situation but at the end of the day, they will forgive our recent tantrums, just as we always do theirs.

Will we be back?  It will take a while for us all to dry off but yes, we will be back.  We will be smarter, better prepared and armed with the knowledge we gained on this adventure.