I take the kids to Disneyland. A lot. Just got back from another trip yesterday. We often visit 1-2 times per week in the summer.
Some folks wonder how or why the magic stays alive for us. For me, it’s more than a mouse and the cash-cow that is Disney. For me, it’s a continual learning and parenting opportunity. I am positive that every visit to “the land that Walt built” offers valuable life lessons. Here’s my view.
- …teaches my children the value of waiting for something. They need to stand in lines and be patient. Whether they are hungry or the person beside them smells like a commercial for why Europe needs deodorant – the patience requirement is there for the kids. They want something – they wait. Humbly.
- …gives us ample time to talk to one another. I have a captive audience, and an endless array of topics. We talk about what appropriate behavior is, see plenty of examples of poor behavior (ie; line cutting, cursing, skimpy clothes, bad hygiene, bratty children with parents who are indulging them, etc…)
- …allows for some autonomy for the kids. After our millionth trip to “the park” (our regular term for the place), the kids know their way around. I can stay in New Orleans Square while they hop over to Frontierland or run for some Splash Mountain passes. With very limited ways in and out of the park, I fear less of them randomly disappearing. (I am usually more afraid of strangers and weirdos on my own street when they ride bikes…) They get small freedom, and I get small breaks.
- …keeps my house clean. (Well, cleaner than if we stayed home.) The kids need to complete chores in order to go, and while we are gone, nothing is self-destructing at home.
- …teaches my children how to interact with new people. They can approach Cast Members and ask questions, make a friend with a child their age in line, say excuse me and thank you plenty of times each day, and they learn too – that many adults lack these attributes.
- …keeps my kids young. We learn, we talk, enjoy rides, games, food, conversation and enjoy just being together without the distraction of TV and video games.
- …teaches them the negotiation/compromising skills. If Peyton wants to do something that Jake does not, she needs to sell him on why he should go on a ride. OR, she needs to barter and compromise and ride something he wants to ride or do. In the big world, they call it “win-win”
For me, the *magic* is much more than a princess signing autographs or a swashbuckling pirate ride. It’s a million parenting opportunities that I know my kids will absorb. They probably don’t even realize that it’s happening, but they are growing up in a theme park. I am blessed by the chances I am given to teach them life lessons in a highly cultured environment.
Brats? …. Not on my watch!!