When Greg and I first became parents, we had strong ideals. I think we still do, but those ideals have been tempered by the reality of parenthood. We would not expose our daughter to Disney princesses and Barbie dolls. For a long time we didn’t, but it turns out that we can’t control what other children expose her to. We now own “Frozen,” and Eleanor has watched it more times than I can count. But she also loves Peter Pan and Charlotte’s Web, so I can at least console myself with the idea that she has balance in her life.
One of those ideals from long ago was that we would not take our children to the Disney theme parks. Such blatant commercialism! We much preferred to visit national parks or cities with museums and performing arts. We wanted our kids to see something authentic and educational.
Then I completely broke our pact. In the months after Genevieve died, I became obsessed with taking Eleanor to Disney World. I started to care much less about our ideals and much more about enjoying her childhood. Greg and I both went as kids, and though I was older when I went, I loved it. I worried that if I skipped it, I would someday wish that I had taken my young, wide-eyed child. There’s no rewinding.
We decided we would go after we had our next baby. Then it took us forever to have a baby. We talked about going shortly after Henry was born, but we wanted a suite in a hotel so that Eleanor would have some chance of getting sleep when Henry was up in the middle of the night. The only way to get a suite near Disney is to be an actual prince or princess. Those rooms are not for the commoners.
Disney is one of those places that inspires strong feelings. People love it or hate it. As an adult, I am not in the love camp. Still, I am tentatively planning to take Eleanor — just her and I — during one of her school breaks this year. (Shhh, she doesn’t know.) The commercialism still bothers me, the prices even more. My goodness! I could take her to Europe instead. I know that in the grand scheme, this is a small thing. Her life would not be ruined by missing Disney. But I think that my life, and hers too, could be improved if we took ourselves a bit less seriously sometimes. And in my obsessing and hyper-analyzing, this is the best place I came up with for fun.