I know it's the happiest place on earth and all, but it combines pretty much all of the things guaranteed to set my nerves on edge – crowds, loud noises, lines, whining kids, spending too much money on junk I don't need – all right smack-dab in the middle of a hot Florida summer. I didn't even like Disneyworld when I was a kid; my memories 25 years later are of being terrified by the animatronic dolls on the Small World ride, almost throwing up on the spinning teacups, and my grandmother yelling at someone dressed in a ridiculous costume about how much the popsicles cost. The best time I had in the three days I was there was when a group of teenagers at the hotel let me ride up and down in the elevator with them for an hour – the tourism equivalent, I guess, of buying your toddler an expensive present only to have him play more excitedly with the box.
But even though going to Disneyworld would be only slightly higher on my list of fun things to do than, say, being waterboarded, I would, of course, start saving money and stockpiling Xanax and generally finding a way to grin and bear it if my kids really wanted to go. Georgia is too young to start nagging, but Ruby has been lobbying hard for a Disney trip for at least a couple of years.
I am pleased to say that she is leaving tomorrow – and even more pleased to say that I am not the one taking her. She is going with her dad and her grandparents, and as happy as I am for both her and me that this has worked out the way it has, I still find myself the tiniest bit wistful and sad about the whole thing. As grateful as I am to miss out on the crowds and the meltdowns and the $15 cones of cotton candy, I realize that it means missing out on her excited face as she sees Cinderella's Castle; her clutching my arm and squealing as she rides Space Mountain; her gap-toothed grin (another tooth fell out last weekend) as she poses with Aurora, her favorite princess.
It's also hard for a control freak like me because if I were going to Disney, I would have been neck-deep in research months ago, trying to figure out FastPasses and princess breakfasts and general Disney strategy. I would twist myself into knots to find every possible way to do every possible thing that Ruby could ever possibly want to do. Her grandparents might be doing all of that; I don't know. But a part of me is still inexplicably stressed out at the idea that she will be somehow disappointed and I could have stopped it. (Note: I am not saying this is healthy. Kids need to learn how to handle disappointment. I need to learn that she will be fine and that it really isn't my job to protect her from the world. It is truly beyond an embarrassing level of crazy that she hasn't even left for Disney yet and I am already working myself into a tizzy imagining several scenarios that might make her briefly bummed, even though she's going to freaking Disneyworld and is almost certainly going to have a great time. But even if it's not healthy, it's where my head is right now.)
I guess it says something about the power of Disney that it can ratchet up my anxiety when I'm not even going. (This time, anyway – Georgia will no doubt wear me down in about five more years.)
For right now, though, I am just trying to stay calm and trust that Ruby will return to me slightly sunburned, overfed with overpriced sweets, wearing mouse ears with her name embroidered on the back, and full of stories about how much fun she had at Disneyworld – or at least how much fun she had riding the hotel elevator.