Last week we went to Disneyland. We went with the kids. This is called a vacation.
It was fun. It was exhausting. It was a typical vacation with small children.
Because, here’s the thing, you can’t control other people. And children are other people. They’re just more illogical people with poorer impulse control and lacking the physical coordination to do many things, like help in any way, or, sometimes, walk.
I thought my expectations were reasonable and loosely held. In some ways my expectations were surpassed and in other ways I had to seriously dial them back.
For one thing, my daughter decided she didn’t like the loud noises. And Disneyland is loud noises. She spent most of her park experience holding her hands over her ears.
Secondly, my six-year old son decided that he was already too old for the kid rides. He only wanted to do the big roller coasters. And standing with the characters was right out. That was for babies. That’s why he looks so sullen in all the pictures.
Thirdly, I thought we were going to avoid the chaos of meeting characters since my eldest has seen barely any movies and my daughter has seen a grand total of zero. But my daughter wanted to meet everyone. We even waited for ten minutes in a line to meet Flick from Bug’s Life whose book or movie they have never seen. I guess it’s human nature? If a bunch of other kids are in line to meet this guy, then I better meet this guy, too? Or maybe it’s just because he’s a giant blue ant?
Fourth, and with a story, the excitement of our circumstances made the bathroom experiences all rather urgent. The bladder usually demanded the most attention once we were severely entrenched in a line. It became a theme. I will tell you one variation on this theme.
It was Friday morning and we had finally agreed on a ride that everyone wanted to go on, the unlikely victor, the Mark Twain paddle boat. At the moment it was all we had, so we went with it. Sure enough, as soon as we were in line my eldest made me aware of the fact that he had to use the restroom. My husband suggested that they might have one on the boat. So, when the rope was pulled back my husband walked on with the baby, my daughter ran after him and I stayed behind to ask if there was a bathroom on board. No. No there was not.
So I asked my son how urgent it was. Could he hold it? No. No he could not.
At this point my daughter comes back in tears because she can’t find Daddy. I grab both their hands and with one crying and the other holding himself I search the bottom deck. James is nowhere to be found. How upset would he be to find himself taking a ride by himself with the baby? The boat isn’t taking off yet so we head up to the second deck. No James.
My son is getting desperate. So I tell them both we’re going to have to go use the restroom and come back. At this my daughter dissolves into a full-blown melt down. She wants to go on the boat! She wants her Daddy!
I drag her off behind me even as I’m being pulled forward by my son. I manage to turn around as we get off the boat and look up to see James on the top deck, holding the baby, and looking over the rail rather bewildered as to where we all might be. I wave madly in a type of marital semaphore we’ve perfected over the years and indicate the situation much to the entertainment of the paddle boats guys. James races down the stairs with the baby and past the rope just in time for the boat to launch away from the landing.
This was ten o’clock in the morning. Our day had just begun and we already had to wipe the slate clean of goals and expectations. We never did ride the paddle boat.
Of course, after that the day only got better, because after that there were no expectations. Everything was bonus.
Because that’s how it goes when you vacation with other people. And children are other people. And you can’t control other people, bladders included.