Some context:

Last Friday, my parents and I took my three-year-old daughter Ruthie to the Magic Kingdom in Florida. My husband Chalupa couldn’t come with us. My parents have been divorced for several years, but Mom and I spent the week of Spring Break at Dad’s house, visiting with him and his partner Franco, because who’s to say that a gay Christian musician and his ex-wife can’t still be best friends, and we can’t all spend a pleasant week together in the warmth of Fort Lauderdale?

The four of us–me the Feminist Mother, my mom the doting Grandma, my dad with the bad back, and Ruthie the three-year-old–spent one full day at the Happiest Place on Earth, and now it’s time to tell the story through our four distinct points of view. A disclaimer, of course: I am totally making up what my parents may or may not have been thinking.

Upon Arrival

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The Feminist Mother: Oh, yeah, this’ll be fine. I’ll just ask Ruthie to leave her very favorite thing in the world, Giwaffe, in the car while we visit Disney World. She’ll be fine with it. She’s a big girl. She has to put it away in her cubby at day care all the time. It’ll be fine.

The Doting Grandma: Ha. Liz thinks this is going to work.

The Papaw with the Bad Back: Why does it take so long to get to the Magic Kingdom? First the parking, then the shuttle, then the boat, then the walking…

The Three-Year-Old: GIWAAAAFFFE! WHY WON’T THEY LET ME TAKE MY GIWAFFE TO DISNEY WORLD!? I NEED MY GIWAFFE. PLEASE. STOP THE TRAIN! STOP, TRAIN! I NEED MY GIWAFFE! MY MOMMY IS THE MEANEST MOMMY IN THE WHOLE WORLD! GIWAAAAAAAAFE! I LOOOOOOVVVEEE YOU!

The Feminist Mother: Okay, so what is the appropriate way to respond to a distraught child who has just punched you in the face on the way to Disney World because you left her Giwaffe in the car?

Upon Realizing There Is a Performance Starting

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The Doting Grandma: Oh, look! A play! Ruthie, look, it’s Mickey Mouse! And the Princesses!

The Feminist Mother: At least this should distract her from crying about Giwaffe.

The Papaw With the Bad Back: How long does this play last? Are there seats somewhere around here?

The Three-Year-Old: Mickey! Hi, Mickey! Hi, Minnie! Princesses! Hi, Ariel! Hi, Snow White! CINDERELLA! HI! Mommy, why aren’t they waving at me? Mommy, they’re not waving at me! Mommy, why can’t we go on the stage right now? Mommy, please! They’re not talking to me!

The Feminist Mother: Let’s go meet Ariel instead.

Meeting Merida

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The Three-Year-Old: Yes, let’s go get Ariel–WAIT! There’s Merida! Let’s meet Merida!

The Feminist Mother: You’re not crying anymore, so yes, I think that seems like a great idea. Let’s meet Merida!

The Doting Grandma: This line isn’t moving.

The Papaw with the Bad Back: I’m just gonna go sit down over here while you guys wait.

The Feminist Mother: I wonder how many other children draw pictures for the princesses while in line?

The Three-Year-Old: Merida! Where is your mom?

Meeting Ariel

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The Feminist Mother: Has Ruthie ever even watched The Little Mermaid? Mostly she just loves the book we read her before bed. And you know what? King Triton is kind of awful. You’re right to hope that he’s not here, Ruthie.

The Three-Year-Old: ARIEL! Hi, Ariel! What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? I love donuts. My favorites are powdered sugar donuts.

On The Rides

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The Feminist Mother: These rides are a lot shorter than I remember them being when I was a kid.<

The Doting Grandma: Ruthie is so cute. she is obviously my very favorite of my six grandchildren. No question about it.

The Papaw with the Bad Back: Oh, look! A place to sit down while we go on this ride/while Liz and Ruthie go on that ride.

The Three-Year-Old: PETER PAAAAANNNNNNN!

Waiting for The Parade

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The Three-Year-Old: Don’t you dare put more sunscreen on me! I don’t want to eat! You can’t make me eat anything for lunch! I’m not hungry! My skin is hot! My feet hurt! Carry me! Carry me on your shoulders! I don’t want to ride in the stroller! I don’t…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

The Doting Grandma: Ruthie is my crabbiest grandchild. No doubt about it. She’s probably my least favorite grandchild.

The Papaw with the Bad Back: Surely there is a more comfortable place to sit to wait for this parade than this stone wall. Surely this is not the only…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

The Feminist Mother: I am a strong, effective parent. I can manage my twenty-eight pound daughter at Disney World without the support of my co-parent. I can do this. Oh, my gosh, please stop yelling at me.

During the Parade

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The Feminist Mother: IT’S PINOCCHIO! YOUR VERY FAVORITE! THE ONE CHARACTER YOU’VE BEEN HOPING TO SEE!

The Doting Grandma: IT’S PINOCCHIO! YOUR VERY FAVORITE! THE ONE CHARACTER YOU’VE BEEN HOPING TO SEE!

The Papaw with the Bad Back: IT’S PINOCCHIO! YOUR VERY FAVORITE! THE ONE CHARACTER YOU’VE BEEN HOPING TO SEE!

The Three-Year-Old: Pinocccchiooooooooooooo!

It’s a Small World

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The Feminist Mother: So, umm, I hate to ask, but is this ride racist?

The Three-Year-Old: THERE ARE GIRAFFES!

Meeting Tinkerbell & Rosetta the Fairies

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The Papaw with the Bad Back: I’m just going to go sit down for a few hours.

The Doting Grandma: Let’s go meet the fairies!

The Three-Year-Old: Why are we in line again?

The Feminist Mother: To meet the fairies. You’ll like them. Their movies pass the Bechdel Test with flying colors.

The Three-Year-Old: Hi, fairies! Let’s play hide and seek!

Dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table

Disney Dinner

The Feminist Mother: Right now I don’t care about the messages that the Disney princess movies send to my daughter. What I care about about is the fact that these princesses in this room are making my little girl feel so wonderfully special.

The Doting Grandma: I think those princesses really do like my granddaughter.

The Papaw with the Bad Back: This was the best decision ever.

The Three-Year-Old: Cinderella, this is my Baby Mickey Mouse! Jasmine, do you like grapes? Sleeping Beauty, I hope the wicked fairy isn’t here! Ariel, we talked about donuts today! And you just left lipstick on my cheek! Snow White, do you like PRINCESS GRAPES?

The Moment Snow White Took Ruthie Downstairs in Search of the Gus & Jaques, the Mice

Disney Snow White

The Feminist Mother: Best moment of the trip.

The Doting Grandma: Best moment of the trip.

The Papaw with the Bad Back: Best moment of the trip. It helps that I was sitting down for it.

The Three-Year-Old: Snow White loves me.

The Two Hour Walk in the Rain Out of the Park

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The Feminist Mother: I have literally no energy to devote to critically analyzing my experience at Disney World.

The Three-Year-Old: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

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