Let me just begin with saying that if you are traveling to FL with a child, you better be going to see Mickey. For weeks, we had planted in Sophie's head that we were all so excited to go see Mia and Poppo in Florida. All those plans were sucked right out the airplane window, as we boarded the flight to ORLANDO, where every person who sees a child going to Florida asks them, with the very kindest intentions, if they are going to Disney. Sophie's eyes grew wide and she nodded yes and added "see Mickey and Minnie and Donald and Goofy." As the news settled on MY ears, I knew I had to do something. Not to worry, there are plenty of character themed restaurants, right? Uncle Trey and Tia were taking her to the Nemo show, which would be fun. As each air-mile flew by and Sophie called out the window, "We're coming Mickey!" I knew that I just couldn't disappoint. Not if I could help it. We did, indeed, after tireless searching and phone calls, get a last minute reservation at Chef Mickey's at Disney's Contemporary Resort, which was everything a parent could dream of. You actually sit and eat and all their favorite Disney friends come and visit you. They don't just walk by, they visit, dance, interact, sign, and hug. Phew. I felt an overwhelming sense of relief as we left knowing that I didn't crush my child's dreams. She, however, proved once more that she was more in touch with true happiness and magic than I could dare to remember.
Later that week, we stepped out into a beautiful summer day in FL and began the short walk to my grandparents house. The walk I'd done a thousand times was made new by the fact that my Sophie now accompanied me. My sweet girl pushed her baby in the stroller as we walked past neighbor's homes and onto the main street of our subdivision. Oh, I remembered, here's where I went over the handle bars of my bike and had to get stitches in my chin. And there's where my brother ran his trike into a car, over and over again. And this is the driveway where a firecracker went up under grandaddy's car. We all have something in the neighborhood of those memories, on the streets of our childhood. For (ahem) years, I've viewed them through the eyes of my childhood. Now, as a parent, my perspective shifted and snapped into a decidedly different position. At first glance, it sounds like that could be a bad thing, a sad thing, or a mourning of the gap between childhood and where I live now. Allow me to assure you though that the revelation is anything but. In fact, the revelation is...invigorating.
Sophie abruptly stopped her stroller, pointed to the sky and said..."I See Mickey!" "I See Mickey" once more for effect. Sure enough, there he was, manifested in a conglomoration of fluffy white clouds passing over our neighborhood. She handed me the stroller and walked with even more determination the remaining half block to Grandmom and Granddad's. Yes, they live in the same neighborhood. There, we found Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus outside the house. She chatted with them and gave Jesus some milk before we headed to the porch to visit the life-sized Santa. You may have heard of the "Hidden Mickeys" that can be found all over Disney property. If not, they are Mickey shaped reminders that the magic is everywhere. Who knew that we didn't need that elaborate trip to Chef Mickey's to find the Big Cheese though, he was right in our front yard.
The new experiences that Soph was creating, minded the gap between my own childhood and adulthood. As a parent, I now have the privilege to see the world through her eyes. The wonder, surprise, and excitement, without expectation. As adults we are constantly allowing ourselves to be let down because that movie didn't end the way we thought it should or it's chicken instead of beef at the wedding. Let it go. After you have taken care of your parental responsibilities...i.e. paying the bills, doing the laundry, planning the meals. Enjoy the perks. Allow yourself to see Mickey in the sky.
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