My brother and my beautiful 6 year old niece Anoushka visited last week. They live in Seattle and have been coming down once a year to visit and take Anoushka to Disneyland. She is like many girls VERY into princesses, and can name every single princess buy their first name, even Cinderella, who's real name I just learned is Aurora. Wow Disney, taking to another level with this generation huh?
When she was 4 going on 5
The first time they came down to go to Disneyland Jack was 4 months old. Not old enough to appreciate the "Disney Magic" and I spent the whole hot day huddled under the monorail with my pink cheeked baby sending Nipper text messages like "unhappiest fucking place on earth" and "How many fat people in wheelchairs does it take to screw in a light bulb?" Terrible. It brought out the worst in me.
Sweet kiss from his cousin under the shade of the monorail
But now he's almost three, and save one family we know, we are the only parents in LA who don't take their kid to Disneyland monthly. When we tell people he's never been, they eye us suspiciously, like they are trying to figure out if they should wait until we leave to call social services or if they should just grab Jack and run. The dad of one of Jack's friends exclaimed "What are you guys COMMUNISTS or something?" To which I say, "ask my designer shoe collection."
So off we went last Wednesday. We packed the kids in the car, slathered in sunscreen. Filled a bag with baked organic snacks (maybe I AM a communist!), film in the camera, or iphone in the pocket that is. Jack napped on the way, and woke up cheerful as hell. It was like he had already breathed in some of that sweet Disney elixir and was ready to bubble and moon through the park with the rest of them. Sorry my insides are a gnarled and wicked thicket.
When she was 5 going on 6
But I'm not completely craven. I mean we went to Disneyworld in Florida when I was a kid. And I loved it! Although my brother reminded me this wasn't until I was 7 or 8, which means he was 11 or 12, meaning his entire youth was spent bereft of any kind of normal American frivolity. But basically we were kibbutzniks minus the Judaism. I seem to remember some birthdays at Farrell's. Oh old timey candy sticks and gibson girl costumes, wherefore have ye gone? My parents seemed to eye most consumer events with derision and contempt. Mcdonalds? For fatties. Six flags? Rubes. Zehnders chicken dinner and neopolitan ice cream? Why on earth would ANYONE feel the need to go there? As much as I promised myself I wasn't going to raise Jack with the same indifference to mainstream pleasure palaces, I often find myself totally understanding why my parents abstained. Mcdonalds IS for fatties. I've never ever met a roller coaster I liked, and Zehnders? No comment.
We got to the gate, paid our small fortune and entered. I was trying to keep a stiff upper lip and a brave face. I was talking a in a really high squeaky voice that sounded both unnatural and slightly terrified. "OH LOOK JACKIE, IT'S MINNIE MOUSE!" I chirped. "who?" he mumbled. Poor baby. But then a few minutes passed. We got on the omnibus which took us through all the shops, successfully bypassing one of the things I dreaded most about the day which was the unending places for kids to beg for plastic crap made by children their age in Myanmar. We headed through the gates of the castle and I started to relax. The kids were both happy, smiling, stunned. We went on the teacups and Jack looked completely delighted and asked to go again. We had their faces painted and ate lunch at a picnic table completely forgoing the snacks I had packed. We bought two $9 Buzz Lightyear cups, a snow white sparkle purse and glove set, 6 mini notepads and pens with all the disney princesses on them, two balloons (princesses for Anoushka, Tinkerbell for Jack), ice cream, cotton candy, two swords, and a light saber, and didn't look back. We had fun. Not just any fun. Family fun.
Isn't she just the bees knees?
We won't be ordering up our yearly passes. But next year, when it's comes time for Anoushka's yearly Disney visit, I will be filled with anticipation instead of dread. Because I am a good U.S. of American...