Nobody told me that about Walt Disney World. But they probably didn’t need to. I probably should have guessed this.
Every time I’m at a public place involving kids and parents, I end up on a bit of a rant. Whether it’s swimming in a community pool or spending time in the latest bounce house, I just can’t help but observe and comment on what’s going on around me.
I try my hardest to put myself in someone else’s shoes. I try to tell myself that there’s a back story. Or that there are extenuating circumstances. Or somehow I’m misunderstanding what I’m seeing or hearing. But sometimes, that’s just not the case.
I am on vacation this week. I’m in Florida and visiting, as you might have guessed, Walt Disney World. I’m a big fan of all things Disney. Whether it’s contrived or not, this place envelopes you in happiness and cleanliness and feelgoodedness. The air is cleaner, the sun is brighter, the birds are singing. But then the people have to come and ruin it all.
The words on the placard at the bottom are Walt Disney’s own – “I think most of all what I want Disneyland to be is a happy place.. where parents and and children can have fun, together.”
Disney is definitely a melting pot of all ages, cultures, and certainly, parenting styles. And the latter was never so apparent as it was today.
We spent the day at the Magic Kingdom. The place with all the princesses and fairies and rides and dreams. I loved it. As we walked in, there was a parade going on. I got tears in my eyes. Laugh at me if you must, but this darn place just makes me happy.
As the day wore on, so did my nerves. My son is no angel but thank God he’s never had a major meltdown. I truly believe people have either raised super bratty kids or they fail to realize that small children need extra food, water, and sleep when they’re at a place like Disney. I learned this lesson last year when my son went from a wimpering, whiny preschooler to a happy little boy after eating a banana.
That’s right. You need to keep them watered and fed. And by fed, I don’t mean ice cream. Give them protein and carbs. We packed lots of water and lots of snacks and stayed ahead of the curve.
Then you find the parents that just downright neglect their kids. And before you think I’m judging (which I absolutely did and you will too), I am going to state the facts.
A woman strolls up to the Snow White ride today with a double stroller. She parks it practically blocking the entrance. (For those of you that don’t know, Snow White is an all ages, calm, easy ride. It might be a little scary when the kids see the wicked queen but generally it’s a ride for anyone.) She has two little girls in the stroller. They look to be about 2 and 4 years old. She leaves them strapped in the stroller and gets in line.
I’m thinking that maybe the girls know how to get themselves out of the stroller. No, they sit there as the line moves on, with their mother. Then, the presumed father shows up. Oh good, I think. He’s going to stay with the girls while she rides this ride. No, he joins her in line. The mother looks back occasionally at the children and they keep moving forward.
I feel outraged that she could be abandoning her children for the sake of this totally lame ride. And I feel panicked about the girls because I see the older one has gotten out of the stroller. Suddenly, a stroller attendant appears. I see him approach the girls and start to ask where their parents are. He looks around; he asks around. I want to yell out, “HERE THEY ARE! Here is the couple that left their kids!!” But the mother, now three rows deep into the line, notices what’s going on and jumps out of line in a panic. She retrieves the kids and they continue in line and all ride the ride together.
I’m furious. Because nobody will ever know. Because that’s bad parenting. The couple appeared to be Latin American, and perhaps not from this country. But I’m pretty sure parental neglect is not a cultural thing.
I get in line for Space Mountain. I’m a single rider. My husband and son wait for me while I had a little grown up fun. Again, I’m shocked by the couple in front of me. Young, early twenties, no wedding rings, definitely American. And a little girl about five years old. I assumed it was their daughter. Maybe it was her daughter. Or even her little sister. It’s hard to tell these days.
She was nervous and wanting to hold someone’s hand. They completely ignored her as they proceeded to make out in front of me. I can’t think of any of the above situations that would make this an appropriate scenario.
I realize that, by its nature, a day at Disney can wear out anyone. I know it wore me out. I know there were probably parenting moments I would want to be judged for. But at the end of the day, I know I kept my son safe and loved. Just wish other parents would do the same.