I recently read an article outlining the difference between what kids remember about vacations and what parents remember. It made me laugh because as a parent I have such high expectations for trips and events with the kids, and they seldom are quite as picturesque as I imagine them to be. My children either misbehave, are tired and whiny, or are more impressed with the ice cream cone they ate rather than the actual event itself.
This makes me stop and wonder what my own two children will remember about their recent trip to Disney World.
Of course, I will force them to relive the experience by repeatedly showing them the hundreds of pictures I took of Disney inspired happiness (the castle! another princess! Mickey Mouse!). But, I think it is the moments that were not in the photographs that will actually have more staying power.
Here is my proposed list of what they will remember about the most magical place on earth:
1. Being traumatized by the dark, scary rides their parents made them go on. My five-year-old son’s voice could be heard echoing in the halls after the Dinosaur ride in Animal Kingdom, “I don’t want to do that a-gaaaaaain.”
2. The emotional distress of realizing that the face paint they were finally able to get would have to be washed off before they got into the pool. My son cried red, superhero tears all the way home from Hollywood Studios because of this realization.
3. Jumping off the ledge into the hotel pool. Both kids found their confidence in the water this trip, and two tired parents were more than happy to simply sit on the pool steps and watch them jump over and over and over…
4. All of the stuffed animals we did NOT buy them at the Disney parks.
5. The sheer brilliance of something known as a sofa bed. The very thought of a sofa that turns into a bed is still boggling their minds.
6. My book bag of endless bribes/snacks. They are now going to think they get a treat for any line we stand in.
7. Seeing their grandparents out of context. “How are Grandpa and Grandma getting here? Why aren’t they here now? Are they staying here forever? How do you get to Florida in a car -does it take forever?”
8. Wearing a poncho for the first time. The very idea that their parents forced them outside to wait in long lines in the pouring rain when usually they are made to go inside caused such a stir of excitement that they did very little complaining about being soaked all day.
9. The time I accidently pinched my son’s arm in the seatbelt and basically ruined the whole Dumbo ride for him. Poor kid was showing off his scars in the airport.
10. A hotel playground that was literally surrounded by mud puddles. Seriously, why pay the admission price into the parks when you have that?
We just returned yesterday, so I haven’t really had time to sort through my experience yet. But, for right now, my parent-view of the trip is centered on these five magical moments that I simply do not want to forget:
1. My son’s skinny arms wrapped around my neck as I carried him through the park. “My legs just don’t have energy!” he whined. I didn’t mind because I knew it would probably be one of the last times I walked around with his head on my shoulder. Each day he gets bigger and stronger and more independent.
2. My four-year-old daughter’s squeals of amazement over just about everything we saw. In line to meet Rapunzel, she looked at me with such an expression of wonder, excitement, and uncontrollable happiness that I just don’t know if I will ever be able to recreate a situation in which that occurs again.
3. Watching my two children cuddle together on the sofa bed after a long day at the park and falling asleep to their giggles and whispers. In the dark, I heard my son whisper to his sister, “I will always protect you. That’s my job.” She replied, “I know. It’s my job to protect you, too.”
4. My son turning to me on the safari ride at Animal Kingdom and demanding in frustration, “Take a picture of this!” when he saw I did not have my camera out.
5. Watching both of my kids’ expressions of awe and wonder as we sat through another show or ride. I often found more enjoyment in their reactions rather than the event itself.
My daughter cried on the car ride home after our last day at the parks. “I don’t want to leave Disney!” she kept sobbing. “I don’t want this to be over.” I don’t know if she will remember that part (Who am I kidding? Of course, she will. We filmed it!), but I do know that was a little bit of what I felt, too.