There is just one moon and one golden sun
And a smile means friendship to everyone
Though the mountains divide and the oceans are wide
It’s a small world after all.
Richard and Robert Sherman
Wed Oct 12/16
Matt tumbled into my room this morning a little after 8:00, soft and warm like the wee ball of love he is. Tottering like a weeble and bleary from sleep he put his arms around my neck. His pudgy fists rubbed his eyes and in a voice gravelled with utter despair he pleaded “Mommy, I think I am very late, and I am very not dressed to see Mickey Mouse. Please don’t leave without me!” Scooping him up in my lap my body threatened to betray me as it convulsed in repressed silent giggles while I gave him my assurances. From experience, I know three year olds can easily misunderstand laughter. He eyed me critically, saw my assurances were true and became a ninja.
Today is our first day out on our own in Paris while Chris attended his conference. Chris and I both felt safe enough to add the Mouse Kingdom to the itinerary. Entering Disney is the same as going through security at an airport. All bags are x-rayed, and one by one people parade through a scanner and at times patted down with a wand. One couple in particular caught my eye…a couple in their eighth decade still holding hands as they made their way through the security queue. Helping each other with bags and reorganizing themselves when the mess was done. It was poignant, at the time I didn’t know why.
Disney is bittersweet for me…sweet because I grew up with Americana. Each year my mom, dad, brother and I would travel for vacation to Cape Cod, Mass. My favourite place on the Cape is Chatham. Main Street Chatham could be Main Street USA Disney. I like 5 & 10 stores, apothecary style candy stores and store windows dressed up for the season, I like Americana. So, Disney and all its facades, decor, characters and costumes are whimsical and fun to look at. It brings back fond family memories.
We made new memories though. Matt was completely into the rides. I set the girls loose to wander the park and ride the rides Matt couldn’t. We met every couple hours and we had no issues.
I really enjoyed our lunch at Colonel Hathi’s Pizza Outpost, not because of the quality of the food but because of the music. It started with toe tapping which became foot tapping, then sitting just wouldn’t do… two feet, followed by the rear end twisting along with hands trying to look really cool with the swing music being played. Before we hit the salad course all four of us were up swinging to the Dixieland Jazz beat of Robert and Richard Shermans I Wan’na be like you. By the time the scat jazz started near the end we were all improvising with our air horns, laughing completely forgetting we were in a public forum…afterall a smile and laughter means friendship to everyone. We danced like no one was watching…sorry no pics too busy moving!
I made a critical mistake suggesting that we do the Haunted Mansion. Matt is obsessed with Hallowe’en stuff at home….loves to look at it…watch it on youtube to the point where I had to disable the app. He howled and shrieked all the way through the ride. His little face and ears were beet red and his eyes tear stained at the end of the ride. He stood his ground, rock solid, fists clenched a meter away from the spooky cast member who helped him out of his buggy and declared to all the world “That was not funny, that was scary!” The cast member tried to keep a straight face but couldn’t just like his sisters who had no mercy on his poor, forever traumatized little soul. To keep calm we had to do Buzz Light Years lazer blast twice before we could carry on. Now that we are home Matt declares daily that he is too small and too scared to do the haunted house on Hallowe’en night. All the ugly Hallowe’en stuff sold in the shops we frequent is given a wide berth now.
The highlight for Matt was Autopia where designers of the ride rigged MG midget sized cars so that small children could drive them. Matt was in his element. All parents of the 3 to 5 set were trying to keep the wheel straight, myself included while all the Disney cast members assigned to the ride were saying let the child drive. Throughout the 10 minute ride a fixed median is present on each lane of the track, the speed of the car is never fast enough to jump the median. In my adult mind I was thinking keep the median parallel to where the catalytic converter meets the exhaust hose on the underside of the car. In Matts mind he was thinking I need to hit the median every opportunity I can. Let’s just say I will need to be treated for whiplash when I get home as the car ride could be summed up as left, bang, right, bang, left, bang, right, bang as Matt purposely steered his car to hit the median for a full ten minutes.
Disney wasn’t busy this time around. The girls were able to ride the best rides as often as they liked. The longest wait time for them was roughly 5 minutes, they lost count on the number of times they rode Space Mountain.
I lost count of all the little Belles’, Elsas’, Ariels’ and Cinderellas’ I saw today. Hundreds of them scurrying around the park. I lost count of the number of adults dressed up in Jack Skellington and Stitch toques. I would also say a fair estimate would be 7 out of 10 women wore blingy Minnie Mouse ears. Why these stats and why the bitter?
I am 47 yrs young and my favourite of all the Disney princess flicks to this day is Beauty and the Beast. C’mon, the beast gave Belle a library…as an unabashed, unapologetic bibliophile is there anything more romantic? My romantic side says no, my realistic side says yes…Disney is fake an escape and potentially sets unrealistic expectations for boys and girls. Happily ever after and real romance are not found on a white horse that rides off into the perfect sunset, or diamond tiaras and jetting for lunch at the latest 5 star restaurant. These are things and fleeting they are. I say that romance and love are found in the day to day. The danger zone lies in that the day to day and small stuff is easily overlooked and often underappreciated. Romance can be defined as a cup of coffee delivered to your bedside in the morning from your partner knowing you were up half the night with a spooked pre-schooler. Romance can be defined as your partner taking the dog for walk in the pouring rain while you are warm and dry helping with fractions, decimals and percentages. Romance can be defined as your partner taking the children to music lessons after a full day in Toronto in meetings. Romance is appreciating the day to day small stuff like thank you for working every day so we can travel to Paris as a family.
Disney is special, priceless memories created that last a lifetime for those who walk through the castle doors and into the fantasy. It is just that, a fantasy. The reality I want and am willing to work for is my own love story. I hope that Chris and I will be that couple in their eighties, still holding hands, still smiling at each other, still helping each other on their journey after the dishes are done, diapers changed and tears dried over miserable fractions.
It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears
It’s a world of hope and a world of fears.
There’s so much that we share, that it’s time we’re aware
It’s a small world after all.