It’s been some seven years since my daughter Hannah cried almost every time we strapped her into her carseat, but if I close my eyes and think about it I can still hear those piercing screams. They echo forward in time, impacting many of the parenting decisions my husband and I have made over the years. For instance, we have travelled very little with our children, and the trips we have taken have pretty much all been close to home. My sister’s son is just two and a half, but he’s been to Chicago and Hawaii and Italy and a bunch of other places I’m forgetting. I’m just not that brave. The fact that we live within easy driving distance of most everyone in our families has made our personal travel ban just that much easier to impose.
This Spring Break, we’re biting the bullet. One week from today we will be in sunny Southern California, visiting everyone’s favourite family vacation mecca: Disneyland. To say the kids are excited would be a dramatic understatement. While Hannah has taken one brief plane trip, it happened when she was just 15 months old, so for all intents and purposes this is the first time on a plane for both of my kids. Several times a day, every day, they pepper me with questions. What will we do at Disneyland? Which ride will we go on first? What is it like when a plane takes off? Which seats will we sit in? How long will we be on the plane? How many days will we be at Disneyland for? How many days until we leave? How many minutes until we set foot inside the front gates?
This will be my first time at Disneyland, as well, although I did visit Disney World twice as a teenager. My husband Jon visited the actual Disneyland as a child, however, so he has become the in-house expert. The fact that his own visit was some 25 years ago does not tarnish his credentials at all in the eyes of our children. They approach him like they would approach a long-admired author of a seminal work in his or her field: reverently, deferentially, unquestioningly. In their eagerness for information, he has taken on a special status.
Photo credit: Mike Saechang on Flickr
While the children are beyond excited, the truth is that my husband and I are a little nervous. Disneyland would not be our first choice in terms of vacation destinations, were it not for the children. We would favour someplace a little quieter, with ample lounge chairs and a bar serving frosty cocktails. We’re putting on our game faces for our kids, but we have plenty of questions of our own. How will they behave on the plane? Will our four-year-old make a break for it and get lost in the park? How will they handle it if they have to wait around in long line-ups? How much Advil should we pack, exactly? We need help.
And so, my fair blog readers, I’m turning to you. Have you travelled with your children? Do you have tips to share – either in general, or about Disneyland specifically? Any ideas for keeping two over-excited children quiet on a plane, or keeping tabs on a preschooler who likes to run, would be greatly appreciated. Just plain old good thoughts would be appreciated, too, for that matter. I’m not sure if I’ll need them, but it will feel good to know that I have them.