Lessons from Disney World, part one
Parents aren’t always right, but we know more than our children. We need to lead.
My son is somewhat sensitive to strong stimuli, such as loud noises and packed crowds. We brought plenty of earplugs to Disney World, and never left the resort without them. It was important for my wife, my mother-in-law, and me to respect his limitations and listen to his voice when he spoke up for himself. (This is a huge lesson in itself, but I will move along.)
However, had we been willing to walk away from everything that caused my six year old to flinch, as soon as he started whining and fussing, our Disney experience would have been limited to riding shuttle buses and boats back and forth from our resort to restaurants and shops. That’s all well and good, but he (along with the rest of the family) would have missed out on some amazing and enjoyable experiences, had we simply acquiesced to his anxieties.
I love my son too much to let him miss out on the thrill of Disney World. Okay, so the “It’s a Small World” boat ride may not exactly qualify as a thrill, but it is certainly a part of the warm memories shared by countless travelers to Disney World. So when he began crying, screaming, and wigging out as we got in line for this particular underwhelming adventure, I calmly and resolutely insisted we were going to ride it as a family, and he could feel free to be upset with me if he didn’t enjoy it. I know my son, and I knew this ride. I had done it before as a child (over and over and over again, much to the delight of my little sister). And I knew there was nothing frightening, and that it was not only a very soothing experience (the first time or two), but that it would appeal to his love of other world cultures. So, what was the outcome of my hard-nosed parenting insistence?
“Dad, I want to ride it again!!!”
Same story on several other rides, culminating in three father-son rides on Goofy’s Barnstormer, the small roller coaster in Toon Town at the Magic Kingdom. He absolutely loved it. I absolutely loved riding with my brave six year old. My wife, mother-in-law, and I thoroughly enjoyed quite a few rides and shows with Shep, and he truly had a magical experience. All because we led him with our experience and authority. But we also knew when to release, and not insist. Sounds like another lesson from Disney World…
And while we’re at it, the following shot never would have happened, either, were it not for the calm, resolute leadership of young Shep’s parents. Tigger even signed his LSU hat! GEAUX TIGERS!!!