I loved it.
All of it.
I’m sure thanks in part to the amazing Disney advice that so many of you offered here and on your own blogs. Minus the stroller recommendations that 800,000 of you insisted on. Thank you ever so kindly but didn’t want one, didn’t need one, was delighted not to have one. Eh, I have city kids. They’re good walkers.
Now back to the loving Disney part.
Here’s the thing. You go to a theme park, don’t expect to be backpacking through Eastern Europe. There are gift shops at every turn, caloric desserts the size of your head, crazy bachelorettes stumbling around in white mouse ears and veils, lazy but able-bodied people riding those motorized thingies for no good reason, long lines you must wait on to do things you will enjoy to varying degrees, and…yes, princesses.
As Annie prepared me for last week, your daughter will simply be a princess while she’s there and that’s that.
The monorail captain will say “all aboard, Princesses!” The waiter will ask, “and for the Princesses?” And the ride operators will caution, “watch your step, Princess,” even as you’re boarding the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin wearing nothing remotely sparkly, pink, or floor-length.
I asked Thalia how it made her feel to be called Princess everywhere.
“Good,” she smiled. “Special.”
And I think for four days out of the year at Disney World, why the heck not. Go ahead and be a Princess in your head for four days in sight of that big, iconic castle. Imagine that you live there and that you can go on rides every single day of your life and have dessert after every meal. Live a little, kid. Because back home you have to clear your dishes and do your math homework.
(By the way – thank you so super duper much to Parents Magazine for featuring me as their favorite all-around parenting blog, along an excerpt of my Boy or Girl post, in the March issue that’s just out. My copy is already wrinkled and dirty, from four grubby little hands beyond excited to see their glossy, 4-color faces in there. Thank you! Thank you!)
The truth is, our costume bins at home include wands and tiaras alongside the fireman hats, and scarves that become hula skirts or cowboy bandanas. We watch Tangled, and we watch 100 other movies that aren’t Tangled. Sometimes I call the girls “my princess” when I kiss them good night, and sometimes I call them Honey or Pumpkin or Weirdo. (That last one mostly belongs to Sage, who likes to make up song where every verse ends in the word “fart.”)
I’m not anti-princess. I never have been. I’m just pro-choice.
When a nice van driver at a hotel is making conversation, and asks the girls, “who’s your favorite princess?” I jump in with, “they have lots of favorite characters. Sage…you love Peter Pan, right?”
Which is true. Why couldn’t he ask a less gender-biased question?
Here’s why: Because when we get out of the van, he’s on his knees, pulling a roll of giant princess stickers out of his pocket and offering them one. And when they couldn’t pick just one…he offered them each two. Which makes me kind of a jerk.
Of course I’m lucky that my kids are pretty laid back about the princess thing. They are not obsessed in the least, and I’d like to think that Nate and I had a little something to do with that. They have their favorites of course, but they have other favorites too; I’ve never seen Sage so excited in her life, as when it was her turn to have her picture taken with Woody from Toy Story. She jumped up and a down like a crazy person, and hugged him like she’d never let go.
It may have been one of the most memorable moments of the entire trip.
I’m also delighted to say that when the girls were allowed to choose one toy for the trip, Sage went for Ponyo and Thalia chose Gigi the kitty. Nate was never so satisfied with his own parenting abilities as he was at that second.
(Seriously, that Epcot Japan gift shop rocks.)
Of course the girls were equally excited to get photo ops with Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Snow White, and Belle at the Cinderella’s Castle luncheon, which–worth every penny even if the food was meh. (Although wah, no Tiana who’s my favorite because, as Thalia says, “she works hard.”) And I’m proud to say that in a sea of little girls dressed in their Chinese-made polyester finest, their hair dipped in sparkles, heat curled, and sprayed to within an inch of oblivion, my girls felt right at home at that luncheon in their regular park clothes.
They were not the only girls in the banquet hall who didn’t “dress” for the occasion, but they were certainly the only ones, maybe in history, who got up from the table to demonstrate to Belle their own patented “bock bock chicken butt dance.”
This delighted her so much, she came back to our table twice to see it again.
That’s my girls.
It was a good reminder to me that you can feel special, and feel like a princess on the inside for all sorts of reasons, and it doesn’t require wearing glitter nailpolish every day or spending $189.50 at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, counter our very kind Disney booking agent’s strong suggestion to do just that, so that your daughter can emerge looking like a Toddlers and Tiaras contestant on crack. (Note to Disney: I think a few of your stylists may have confused “princess” with “future stripper.”)
I also think that partly why my girls felt so special is because they had four uninterrupted days with their parents. That’s not a small thing to overlook.
I guess my perspective is that imagination, fantasy and creativity in pretty much any form is amazing for kids. If that includes princesses from time to time, so be it. As long as that’s not the only choice. As long as they can be pirates and astronauts, teachers and flower sellers, chefs and artists and farmers and zoo animals too.
As long as they can pick the pink LEGOS or the blue LEGOS and not have some retailer tell them just which one is only for girls.
Of course it all led to a great discussion later in our hotel room, in which we told Thalia and Sage that it’s okay to be strong, smart, hard-working and still dream of to marrying a prince.
Nate added, “or another princess.”
Which is why I love him.
You can also head to Cool Mom Picks to see my very common sense tips for enjoying a Disney vacation. Feel free to add your own.