Do you remember the first time you went to Disneyland as a kid? I remember it well. I was twelve years old. I remember being so overwhelmed (in a good way) with all the colors, rides, animation, and cart after cart of delicious treats to snack on: popcorn, peanuts, ice cream. It was a dream come true. I also remember that back in my day, we had coupons lettered A-E. The E-ticket rides were the good rides. Unfortunately, you were only given three or four of those, so if you wanted more, you had to purchase them separately.

Fast-forward some 10 years later, it was 4th of July and I had decided to take my children to Disneyland . . . by myself (they were 2 and 3 at the time). I figured, “How hard could it be, right? Wrong! Let’s just say it was the most stressful day I had ever had. Jessie wasn’t quite yet potty trained, and for some God unknown reason, decided she “HAD TO GO” every time we got to the very front of the line. Luckily, my sister showed up later in the day with her best friend and they took Drew separately for a while. WHEW! That perfect day that I had envisioned, turned out nothing like I had planned.

However, 29 years later, I found myself excited about the idea of taking my granddaughter Mariah to Disneyland to celebrate her 3rd birthday, and of course, we weren’t going without my 4 year-old grandson, Xavier. But for some reason, I knew this time around it was going to be different. For one, both are potty trained; and two, they have the bladders of a camel.

Children are one of the greatest lessons in happiness, constantly challenging us to enjoy the moment, as the next one will not be the same. AUTHOR UNKNOWN

We started our morning off having breakfast with the Disney characters at Goofy’s Kitchen. They were so excited when their Disney favorites came to visit them at our table. As I sat back and watched my babies interact with each other, and talk about the rides they wanted to go on, I couldn’t help but smile, knowing this was definitely going to be a great experience for all of us.

Minnie & Mariah

Mariah is obsessed with Minnie Mouse. She has about a dozen tutus just like MInnie and there was no way she was going to Disneyland without wearing one. So when Minnie stopped by our table for a photo opp, Mariah just about died. She was beyond herself – especially when Minnie showed her how to properly hold her tutu.

I know that moment with Minnie stayed with Mariah throughout the day, because as we were riding the train (for the fourth time in a row), I noticed she was holding her skirt just like Minnie had showed her.

I let the kids dictate how the day was going to go and  was quite impressed with Xavier’s precision in planning out our route. From the moment we walked through the entrance gates, he kept asking me to stop and get a map. He absolutely loves maps. He consulted with Mariah on the rides she wanted to go on, and he mapped out the best route to get us there. Yep. This time around, Disneyland was definitely turning out to be a great experience.

I decided to just let things be the way they were meant to be. I wasn’t going to get uptight about etiquette or cleanliness (we had to nix Mariah’s tutu later in the day when she spilled her drink on herself).  I just sat back and watched, with wonder and excitement, and experienced Disneyland through their eyes. I listened as they explained their logic as to why things worked the way they did, and laughed as they talked about how fast they were going to make the Tea Cups spin, and which way they should turn the handle to make it spin “super-fast.”

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

As the evening came to a close, we decided to catch the FANTASMIC fireworks water show. If you have never experienced this show, I have to tell you, it is mind blowing! This animated display of brilliance is beyond belief. The music. The technology. The animation. The pyrotechnics. Everything is just amazing!

My ex and I took our older two children to see FANTASMIC when it was first introduced in 1992, but I don’t remember it being as exciting as it was this time around. I watched as Xavier and Mariah’s eyes got big as saucers when Mickey battled the Disney villains. To see their expressions when Maleficent cast her reign of fury down was a sight (mind you, this was all taking place with the help of an incredible display of pyrotechnics and water animation).

As I watched Xavier and Mariah enjoy the show, I had flashbacks to all the times I had taken my kids to Disneyland when they were little, and how uptight I was about all the little things that, in hindsight, were really no big deal. I felt a little sad about how I allowed those trivial matters take the joy out of the day. This time around, I was able to enjoy Disneyland through the eyes of a child and realize how simple life really is. . .  when you allow it to be.

Sometimes, you just gotta embrace life with childlike wonder and just enjoy it for what it is. It’s that simple.


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