We’ve taken the kids to Disneyland before but… it was different last time. Rory was dropped on his head for starters… That’s how the day started. He sort of leapt from the stroller and landed on the top of his head on Main Street. People everywhere were sort of like, “AH!” but we pretended it was no big deal, “Brush it off!” we chuckled, trying to muffle his screams. “Little rascal!” we mumble under our breath, trying to play it down.
Once the crowd had moved on and we were certain that no one in the vicinity knew we were the people who dropped our child on his noggin, we pulled over and examined his head for hair line fractures or brain leakage. He was all good; totally clean. But this was a while ago. This was our FIRST trip to Disneyland with the kids. In fact, I don’t even think they remember it. But this time, today, things will be different…
Jade’s family is in town – the entire herd. Uncle Hotrod is living in Santa Monica and June, Jordan and Katie have all decided to take a simultaneous vacation to LA. Jordan and Katie have never been to Disneyland… so we find some tickets… and we show up with the kids in tow… and it’s phenomenal.
They want to see, touch, explore everything. We’re on Tom Sawyer’s island and every cave must be investigated, every nook, knicked, every crevice, cornered. Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, the California Screamin’ Rollercoaster. Yes, Jordan and Katie really loved it… and the kids had a good time as well.
You could tell they were registering things; this place was different than where we were from. This place was strange and magical and marvelous and “Is that lady wearing a coat made out of dog fur? That’s certainly disturbing”. We take them into The Haunted Mansion and Rory marvels at the floating head in the crystal ball. We take them on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and Quinn sits with Uncle Jarod up front. They both reach out to touch the mist and eyeball the skeletons and animatronic figures as we pass them. They are unphased by the two gut wrenching drops in the ride, which surprises me. Maybe it’s because I’m clutching Rory tight and prepping him by saying, “Hang on, hang on, hang on! Here–We–GOOOO! WEEEEE!” and then I blurt out really over abundant laughter to show him that it’s okay. Previous to the drop I lean forward and say, “Hey, uh… Jarod?” and he says, “What’s up?” and I say, “Not that this would, y’know… happen… but would you mind sort of hanging on really tightly to Quinn just in case she… y’know… flies out of your lap like a paper airplane?” and he says, “No problem, dude”. I have visions of emerging from the darkness at the end of the ride, Jarod having been rocked to sleep on the gentle currents, Quinn forever lost to the Pirates. In my mind she slowly hobbles through the fiery town, asking Jack Sparrow if she’s seen her Papa. She survives on abandoned food and bathes in the water. I suppose there are worse ways to spend your life.
Mark Twain’s boat cruises past us and Rory says, “Boat! Boat!” We walk past a restaurant and drop well over a hundred dollars on sub-standard burgers. I guess it’s easy to be the happiest place on Earth when you bathe in money. In fact, I’m sure there’s some joke here about how money can’t buy happiness but it CAN buy you a TICKET to the happiest place… I don’t know. I’m sure there’s a more eloquent and witty way to put this. It doesn’t matter. It was fun. Rory ate pizza. Quinn ate a burger.
After lunch the four of us waited in line to ride on Dumbo for 45 minutes. The ride lasted 4 and a half. As young as he was, Rory seemed to understand the inherent inequality of wait time versus ride time. He wasn’t ready to dismount from the elephant so I had to drag him back out into the masses kicking and screaming, where we find Jordan huddled over a map of the park. He’s slowly sliding his finger from ride to ride, his eyes squinting against the sun. At one point he sticks his finger in his mouth and lifts it into the air, testing the wind direction or perhaps its resistance. I ask him what he’s doing and he says, “I think if we hit Space Mountain at 2:15, we’ll have time to double back through the park and hit our fast passes at Splash Mountain just in time. After that, I’d suggest jumping on the Jungle Cruise and bailing out halfway through. If we time it right, we can overtake one of those little canoes and row ourselves towards Adventure Land and slide into the Indiana Jones line while we send a scout out to bring back reports on the Pirates.” I laugh and he says, “Is something funny?” and I say, “You’re really intense,” and he says, “Plan your battles, B. Don’t battle your plans”.
For the rest of the day we ride on more rides than I have ever successfully done in one day. He is the King of Theme Park Strategy.
We changed the kid’s diapers in crowded public bathrooms and led them hand in hand through the crowds. We showed them giant fish and princesses and rabbits and boxes filled with dynamite and dinosaurs and ghosts and they were amazed and I was amazed watching them. They say that having children is like seeing the world again through their eyes and their is truth in it… there is, perhaps, nothing but truth in it. Never have I had such fun at Disneyland as I did when I was experiencing it with my children. I suppose there is also something to be said regarding the magic of children. Perhaps it’s so fun to watch life through their eyes because it is all new and all encompassing and all enveloping.
I can recall walking into Disneyland for the first time as a child myself and I was set back and blown away.
I can recall sitting in an operating room with my wife as my children were brought around the blanket and introduced to me for the first time and I was set back and blown away.
Certainly those two things aren’t the same but at a respective level, children are the magic in an adult’s world. They are the things that make us sit down and laugh and wonder. Our children are the happiest place on Earth.