What can a day at Disneyland teach you?
So yesterday our family, mom, dad, daughter, and uncle, took a day and visited the House of Tigger. Yes, I said Tigger. Ever since my first trip to Disney World where Mickey Mouse dissed me, I have never cared for the rat. Tigger has always been my bud, so, in my mind, it is the House of Tigger. Even though we live in Southern California, this is a special event for us. Fortunately, while our daughter does enjoy Disney, she is not over-the-moon-want-to-go-all-the-time about the theme park. Just the same, we got up early and left the house by 6 am. The game plan was to spend the day enjoying what rides we could and finish it off with the fireworks.
Now for those who know me, I may come as a surprise to say that I had a good time. This has nothing to do with my lack of respect for the mouse. Many people offer me condolences when I tell them I am heading off to the theme park. They know that as an introvert, I do not handle social functions and large crowds all that well. I will share a little secret. Since I do not really need to interact with all of those people, this not as hard as most people would suspect. Yes, there are thousands, and a do mean THOUSANDS of people milling about, but they are all their own little pods moving through the park. Interaction only happens when one wants it to or a small child bumps you.
Just the same, I walked away from the day with, dare I say it, many happy memories. I also walked away with a number of lessons for myself and the world.
The first lesson is actually more of a reminder than a new lesson. Take time to see the world through the eyes of others. All too often in life we get so wrapped up in our own moments, we forget to have that moment when we take time to look at the world from a different angle. Yes. Part of this lesson does mean that as a parent remembering what it is like to be a child (this lesson comes up twice). We often forget what it is like to be a child in this world. It is just as scary, crazy, beautiful, and awe-inspiring as it was when we were kids. Disney also reminds us to see the wonder.
I love visiting the park and watching our daughter’s face. We sat in the Tiki Room and watched the birds sing and talk. As an adult, I watch the animatronics and wonder what it took to make that happen. I then glanced at our daughter and immediately stopped analyzing the show. She was seeing it for what the creators wanted it to be. She saw the birds as animals and flowers that could communicate. Her mouth moved from jaw on the floor to huge smile and back again. Her eyes sparkled as her head kept moving around the room. I learned to stop always wondering how things worked and just to take it in.
The second part of the looking at the world through others’ eyes comes from the cast members. A Disney employee must always smile and act happy when dealing with customers. It is Disney after all. However, I watched the cast when they weren’t interacting. I watched them when they thought nobody was looking. The smiles faded, the chipperness lessened, and the energy dropped. I felt sorry for them. I started wondering what troubles were troubling them. How many were dealing with family issues, work problems, or health problems. Yet as soon as a customer came near, the mask went on, the energy came up, and the character came to life. How many people do we see each and every day of our life that are acting the role that they feel people need to see? Could that person sharing an office with you eight hours a day be no different than these cast members? They act the role in order to get through their 8-hour day.
The second lesson was that parents get tired. Come the late afternoon, I started looking at the parents. I saw one poor dad standing with a swaddled infant. His eyes were more than three-quarters closed – the dad not the infant. I saw moms and dads sitting on benches with eyes that were glazing over. Sometimes that tiredness gets projected. I had one of those such moments. For the second time to the parks, our daughter wanted to try the Tower of Terror. She was adamant before leaving the house that this would be the trip. Her uncle and I stood in line with her for about 45 minutes to just reach the elevator. During the ride up, her mind decided otherwise. I tried to talk her into it stating that she was safe. I would never put her into a dangerous situation, and……… I will hear these words for years, “Do you trust me?” I wanted her to face her fears and try something new. We ended up leaving her uncle and walking down the back stairs.
I allowed myself to become upset with this. I became like a little child and stopped communicating. It took some time, but our daughter and I talked through it. It was dropped and on we went. However, I am still thinking about the fact that I overlooked her fear in trying to force her to try something new. There are times that she will need to work through fears, but sitting in a theme park was not one of those times. I will say that other parents were doing the same thing. That is not a means to excuse me; just stating that I am not in the boat by myself.
The last lesson I will share is about how people act at the park. This park was not as crammed as I have seen in the past, but it was busy. There were people from all over the world. I heard languages from the four corners going on in conversations. People were crammed into small spaces. We stood in line for long periods of time for 1 minute rides. Yet, every person was civil to each other. I heard nobody yelling at others (except parents to children). People bummed, cut each other off, cut lines, and all other means to drive each other crazy. Yet, PEOPLE GOT ALONG. It makes one wonder how these same people are out in the real world. I know it is a theme park. I get it that it is only one day. I understand that people are excited to be there. But I want to know. If people can act like that for one day, why not every day. If every person who ever went to a theme park could take that attitude out of the park, what would happen.
The other thing I saw about people of the park was their willingness to do things without fear of judgment. I saw every form of dress possible. People in gowns and suits to the normal tourist clothing. I saw people wearing hats, and shirts that they would most likely never wear outside of the park. At first I thought how could they wear that. Then I wondered, why couldn’t I. Those people lived their lives and didn’t worry about what the person in behind them thought. They were enjoying themselves and their families. I walked away wondering why, if they could, could I not. It is something I need to work on.
Our original plan was to make to have a great day and see the fireworks. The first part was a success. We have memories to spare. The fireworks? Well…I saw them in my rearview mirror while on the freeway driving home. A half hour before the scheduled first burst, our daughter looked at us and said, “I’m tired.” I questioned if she was sure. A small nod was the response. Children do not get tired a little at a time. They go until the light switch goes off, and all energy is drained. I opened my mouth to explain how close she was to the extravaganza. Instead, I took her by the hand and the three of us turned our back to the castle and walked away. Lesson learned.
Time to go work a church fiesta. Thank you for meandering with me today.