47/52: Calculated Risk

December 23, 2014

I don’t remember how old I was when I first went to Disneyland. It seems like I was 6 or 7 at the time. I remember digging the grooves of It’s a Small World and being wowed by the ghost sitting next to me at the end of the Haunted Mansion. I thought Pirates of the Caribbean smelled funny but had some interesting story lines going on. The Submarine Voyage was so cool because I thought the shallow pool that my partially-submerged submarine traveled in was the actual bottom of the ocean.

However, the memory that stands out most to me is the ride that I avoided. For some reason, I chickened out when it came to Space Mountain. I’d like to think that my fear was based on news reports of Reagan’s Star Wars program and my fear of Soviet ICBMs being launched through space (which of course would hit the tallest object—a mountain), but I was probably just a pansy about riding on a fast-moving thing in the dark.

Who knows if the details of this memory are correct, but here is what I recall:

After I decline, my dad and brother go to Space Mountain. I stay with my mom and play some arcade games. It is raining outside. I decide to buy a stuffed animal, or maybe my mom offers to buy one for me because I am precipitating into a pile of self pity. The animal I choose to buy is a basset hound named Baxter. He has giant eyes, like he just missed the tryout for a Japanese cartoon. He is literally the saddest-looking thing sold at The Happiest Place on Earth. My father and brother return from Space Mountain all exhilarated. Baxter looks at me with those eyes. He and I are mirrors now, as rain falls around us. At some undisclosed location, Walt Disney shakes his cryogenically-frozen head.

So tomorrow, we take a family trip to Disneyland. There is no rain in the forecast. It will be the first time for both kids. I’m wondering what memories Alice will make for herself. I’m wondering how many years Elliot will shave off of my life with his escape attempts.

We have decided that we will surprise Alice, and by “we” I mean me. Not sure if this is the way to go, but I will find out tomorrow. On Disney Eve, some pros and cons about this calculated risk:

Pro: We get to see the genuine uncontained excitement of a five-year-old realizing she is at Disneyland. The jumping. The flapping arms. The lack of socially-acceptable volume control.

Con: Since she isn’t a morning person, she wakes terribly and is an all-around crustacean when it comes to loading up. She complains so much, that in a fit of anger, one of her parents (most likely the one feeling guilty for suggesting that we not tell her) blurts out “We’re going to Disneyland okay! Are you happy? Surprise!”

Pro: We don’t hear “When are we going to Disneyland?” a trillion times before we actually go.

Con: She gets angry for being in the dark about going. She accuses us of tricking her and has trust issues with us for the rest of her life. The phrase “like when you didn’t tell me we were going to Disneyland!” becomes a touchstone.

Pro: She actually gets a good night of sleep the night before. On a related note, so do we.

Con: She thinks that every time we get in the car and forget to tell her the destination, she is actually going to Disneyland. Suddenly that free toothbrush and floss at the dentist become like the submarine that never actually even submerges in the pool.

Pro: We have the exciting unpredictability of her reaction to take our minds off of the crowds, lines, overpriced food, and lost kids.

Con: She will not be adequately prepped for the fact that she will be standing in lines for a long time. She will come to think of Disneyland as a parental plot to develop patience in their children that masquerades as an amusement park.

No matter what happens, I have to think that she will come away with a less-depressive moment than her downer of a dad. Unless of course, she is an empath and can discern the deep sadness in the eyes of every adult dressed up as a Disney Princess.

Ah well, whichever way it goes, Elliot will look adorable in Mickey Mouse ears. And I have a follow-up blog post to help me reach my goal. Hold up. I hope I didn’t just choose a blog post over my daughter’s emotional well-being. Stop shaking your head at me cryogenically-frozen Walt Disney.

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