« You've Got Gmail | Main | iPod Adventures »

June 26, 2004

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

(A Mom’s-eye view of Disneyland)

By Jean Wakefield

We spent my daughter’s 9th birthday at Disneyland, a world of adventure and excitement where cartoon characters dance, children play and parents ooze cash from every orifice:

Day One

Mom: “I told you we should’ve taken two suitcases. There’s no room for souvenirs, and we had to pay a $25 heavy-bag fee before we even left Portland. All souvenirs must be compact and nonbreakable. No stuffed animals! I repeat, no stuffed animals!”

Dad: “No way am I paying $2.75 for sugar water. A plate of tortilla chips in plastic cheese for $8? Never happen.”

Daughter: “Look! A Build-a-Bear Workshop!”

Daughter rides the Orange Stinger, where kids are strapped into lawn chairs chained to a tether ball pole and flung in circles. She screams with joy. Mom just screams. Dad takes Daughter on a death trap called the Maliboomer. Mom is too terrified to look, yet compelled by the force of evolution to watch as the lone bearer of her DNA and the bright future of the human species is shot into outer space by strangers, then plunged to earth with no more protection than a seat belt and a vomit shield. Mom envies that vomit shield.

It’s great staying at the Disneyland Hotel. Close to the parks and Downtown Disney, helpful employees, convenient souvenir shops, pool and crowds of raucous partiers who scream outside our hotel window until 3 a.m. Which leads us to ...

Day Two

Mom: “Omygod, three hours of sleep and no coffee maker in the room. I have no eyelids! I wonder if I could draw them on with eyeliner?”

Dad: “This hotel has no Internet access. I want to go home.”

Daughter: “I want to ride the Maliboomer again!”

Travel is so educational. It shows Mom what she’ll be like at age 90: a bag lady. Sacks beneath her eyes, belongings strapped to every part of her body, exhausted, malnourished, seeking only a quiet place to rest her weary bones. Daughter spends $140 at Build-a-Bear Workshop on a rock-star bunny with accessories. For $35, Mom gets a silhouette in a glass frame and giant lollipops. Daughter wins a pink stuffed dolphin at Dolphin Derby. After riding the Maliboomer 12 times and bruising the judgment center of his brain, Dad leads Daughter to the California Screamin’ roller-coaster ride of annihilation. Mom knows she will never see either one of them again.

This scenario shows why, despite technological advances, we will never quite make fathers obsolete. Nature requires someone to take kids on California Screamin’, which Moms cannot bear to watch, much less ride. We can’t escort our children to certain doom. But Dads can, and do happily. And make certain doom seem like a blast.

Day Three

Mom: “Omygod, are those varicose veins?” She nearly calls an emergency vein-stripping center until she realizes the “veins” are multicolored, shaped like Goofy and match the souvenir bags she’s had banging against her calves all day. Daughter buys a Stitch hat that looks like a monster is eating her head, wears it for 15 minutes, hands it to Mom to carry. Daughter joins Mom on safe, clever, imaginative rides like It’s a Small World and Peter Pan’s Flight. Thanks Mom politely, then -- back to California Adventure!”

Daughter and Dad: “Leave her! She’s too slow!”

Abandoned to starve, Mom struggles through crowds, carrying an autograph book, Stitch hat, Tilley hat, sandals, candy, Kleenex, snacks, other people’s water bottles, sunscreen ... and oh, yes, the tickets. They can’t go far.

Mom: “Moo-ah-ha-ha. I’ll just rest here a while and enjoy this Mickey Mouse ice cream bar.”

After a big meal at Ariel’s Grotto, Daughter rides California Screamin’ and the Maliboomer six times each.

Daughter: “I don’t feel good. I think I have gastric reflux.”

Dad: “Hey, look! That guy’s selling Diet Coke for only $2.75!”

As “Hollywood Nights” blasts yet again over the P.A., Mom and Dad debate whether “Hotel California” should be included on the endless loop of California-related songs. Mom fantasizes about kidnapping Bob Seger and Donald Duck-taping him to the Maliboomer until he agrees to quit the music business. Dad shells out $24 for several heart attacks with plastic cheese. Daughter wins three large stuffed animals from claw machine. Mom declares any additional stuffed animals will be shot on sight. Spends evening sitting on suitcase.

Day Four

Mom considers using concealer as foundation in hopes of making her whole head disappear. Daughter wins two stuffed dolphins at Dolphin Derby, rides California Screamin’ five times and declares she’s ready for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which is like the Maliboomer but with fake mold. Mom waits outside wishing Disneyland sold Minnie Mouse prayer beads. Daughter self-ejects from Twilight Zone ride, having spotted scary moss up ahead. Dad completes the ride, declares it “kinda boring” and buys another Diet Coke.

Time for the fireworks display. The Mouse puts on a good show: The sky explodes with color, Tinkerbell soars overhead.

As glowing white sparkles trickle down through the sky, Daughter hugs Mom:

“Mom, look! It’s the fountain of dreams! The fountain of dreams!”

Smiles all around. The perfect trip. Gotta do this again next year.

Posted by dpwakefield at June 26, 2004 04:26 PM