The whole Happiest Place on Earth thing? I believe it now. I was skeptical before, but now, well, it’s a different story. I have seen it with my own eyes.
You see, the girls went to Disney World for the first time, and they didn’t just survive the 12-hour ordeal, they friggin’ rocked it. In fact, I can’t even call it an ordeal when neither of them cried, fussed, or gave us much trouble other than the occasional, “no, that’s my wand!” from 10:30 in the morning to about that time after sundown, after the spectacular fireworks, after the trek out of the park with what felt like a ga-ba-zillion others.
These are kids who go to bed at seven on a usual night, so you can imagine my utter amazement at their ability to power through an additional 3.5 hours after an already full day of overstimulation - Princesses! Rides! Treats! Disney merchandise! Everywhere!
Little Miss Starstruck
Little Miss got to meet two of her favorite princesses - Ariel and Belle - but the latter involved a cute reenactment of the day Belle met the Beast from us, the patrons who stood in line to see the princess. Pickle played the part of the enchanted pepper shaker (and she played it well, as she skillfully shook her little booty), Little Miss played the French feather duster, and their Papa, a sentry. I was impressed at the interactivity, where the girls didn’t just stand in line to be hugged by Belle. They became a part of the magic!
As someone who had never been particularly interested in amusement parks, Disney was pretty low on my must-see list, but as a mom of girls, I knew this trip was inevitable. Due to the generosity of their grandparents who live in Florida, this visit happened sooner than I thought.
But the girls certainly proved that it wasn’t too soon as they impressed us with their willingness to try everything, and especially with their patience in lines, which, at 30 minutes, I was informed was pretty mild for Disney. Pickle, who was starting to show signs of fatigue took a short nap in her stroller and after a full meal at the “Be Our Guest” Restaurant, she was back in fine form, exploring, giggling.
The girls rode on their first roller coaster together - the Barn Stormer - and met me with smiles at the end of the ride. Four-year-old Little Miss was tall enough to ride the others, so she went on the rest, culminating in the formidable Space Mountain!
I knew she’d kick my ass in the thrill-seeking department, what with her penchant for gigantic water slides and amusement park rides, but I didn’t realize she’d do it at age four. That part of her blood did *not* come from me, that’s fo sho. I prefer less oh-my-god-I’m-going-to-die ones like “Dumbo” and “It’s a Small World”. Hey, at least I have the cojones to admit that.
Part woman warrior, part chicken shit - that’s me.
Not these girls though. They’re mostly fierce and surprisingly resilient. On a day where we expected about seven meltdowns, we were met with none.
On our way back, which in itself was an Olympic feat, trying to navigate around a million other overtired, overstimulated, somewhat stinky people to take two different modes of transits just to get back to our car, we encountered a hollering baby who was probably at the end of his tether on the monorail. I looked at him writhing on his poor, helpless mama, and I looked at Pickle, who slept quietly on her grandpa’s shoulders, finally but peacefully surrendering to her exhaustion, and I just couldn’t believe our luck when I realized we didn’t have to deal with any of the unpleasantries of what a long day does to kids.
But luck and resilience can’t take all the credit. With a 5:1 ratio of adults to kids, we had more than all hands on deck. The girls always had someone to hold them, watch them, and satisfy their insatiable “look at me! look at me!” demands. The best part of the trip for them (well, other than the princess and the ice cream for lunch and dinner thing) was certainly having their grandparents by their side, doing what they do best: dote.
And that they did. Remarkably. So much so that I was rendered chopped liver the moment the girls arrived at their grandparents’ beautiful home in St. Augustine, complete with a pool and two pets that kept the girls entertained for hours.
Our trip to Disney would’ve probably been a different story were it not for the gentle, loving hands of a family - grandparents and an uncle - who created a comfortable, magical place for my girls that extended far beyond that of Magic Kingdom. A place where they know in their hearts, they could call home, no matter where they are - fantasy or otherwise.
And my broken butt and I are completely and utterly grateful.
Ignore the scowling faces - they were truly happy, I swear...