We recently went to Disneyland. Like the forgetful dweebs we are, we forgot to take any pictures (Except for the one lonely graveyard pic from Haunted Mansion). I am so bummed. The kids are getting bigger every day. Growing bigger. Growing older. Growing apart. From us.
Why couldn’t I take a picture?
Here are the highlights I chronicled in my head from the day:
1. Eating at a restaurant in the park, we began speaking to the most wonderful old woman (she was the hostess). Picture a nursery rhyme with an old lady in an apron. You would have this woman. I believe she was even wearing an apron. Her face tried to hide that she had once been beautiful among many lines of gathering folds. But it was still there, in her twinkling crystal blue eyes. Her lips still full, despite time trying to steal them, bit by bit, away.
But it was her hands that interested me. She had the largest hands I had ever seen on a woman. And I began to ponder as she chuckled and spoke in delight, what stories her hands told. She tossed them about, describing her beloved grandchildren. Were they hands that had worked everyday of her life… Until they were so full of pent up energy they might burst?
Was she standing there smiling and laughing, all the while, being in terrible pain from arthritis plaguing her appendages?
Was this the way she was born? Her heritage, along with her curly hair, twinkling eyes, and rich spirit.
I do not know.
But I wonder. I do.
2. At the same restaurant, my nine year old son turned to me and said, “Mom, ten and under.” And he pointed to his kid’s menu.
I laughed and said, “Yes, and that is you.”
He said, “I know, but soon it won’t be.”
Oh, dagger straight to the heart…
So, his kid’s meal comes out. He had ordered the kid’s fried chicken meal. On the plate was one piece of chicken.
All was quiet at the table, when you hear my son who has the vocabulary and soul of an old man say, “This. is. infuriating.”
And he glowered at his lonely piece of chicken.
Which made us all laugh hysterically.
3. Being in the restroom with my daughter, when we both heard a scream.
A woman rushing from the stall dismayed at the self-flushing toilet.
Only to be met at the rows of sinks by her mother, who was fascinated by the magic of faucets and paper towel machines that would turn on without a press of a button or the turn of a knob.
It is rare in this world to witness someone being truly delighted. Seeing someone’s “first.” Someone in awe.
My daughter and I bathed in it.
4. Eating a giant bag of Salt & Vinegar Kettle Chips from my Mary Poppin’s bag of treats and indulging in frozen lemonade as our family sat on a brick wall and people watched.
The icy sweet goodness.
The old Indian couple lounging on a bench in front of us. Her body covered with beautiful silver jewelry. Both wearing traditional Indian clothing. A young Indian family, in jeans, rushing up to them. Carefully handing over hot cups of liquid to their elders. Respectful. Itching to get back and enjoy the rides. The young woman’s braid, thick and luscious trailing down towards the small of her back. Never stopped swinging. The constant motion of motherhood.
5. My children’s smiling faces. Laughing. The outline of my daughter’s profile, as I stared and marveled at the beauty she is becoming. The sun gleaming off of her skin, as we waited in yet, another line.
6. Getting fast passes for Indiana Jones. Watching my daughter’s smiling face, my son’s stoic one.
The ride was over, I asked my son, “So, did you like it?”
“Yes.” He replied, “I didn’t stop grinning the whole time.”
And then he smiled in delight.
7. After Indiana Jones, which was our favorite ride of the day, we followed a family out the exit. The grandmother was faster than us and she used a walking cane. The mother was a smiling pretty woman. She stepped away from her family and I watched what she did next.
She approached a young couple in their late teens standing in the hour long standard line and handed them two extra fast pass tickets that she had in her possession. The thing is, I would never have given those teenagers those tickets. I would have assumed they would have been ungrateful, or, well, “teenagers.”
Those kids beamed at her. They thanked her so profusely.
They ran excitedly to the fast pass line and I watched the woman watching them and smiling to herself.
And I smiled, too. Because she was a better woman than me. And she taught me that I might have a little soul searching to do.
It was another “pure” moment. And my soul drank it in.
8. And tears. Lots of tears. Meltdowns from children in the heat. Begging to go home. A teenage girl crying. Fighting with her mother next to us.
The disappointment on the parents’ and children’s faces as they realized they just were not tall enough to go on the ride they wanted.
And I wanted to scream.
I have been that parent. My children have been those children.
I wish I had known…
“Be grateful! Relish Dumbo, Peter Pan, the carousel. Enjoy the holding of the hands. The sticky fingers. The slobbery kisses.
Because one day, you will be standing in the line that you had coveted and you will see those frustrated parents and children. You will envy the rides they get to go on as you stand and wait for another “fast” one.
Cherish that line that keeps them young. Because there isn’t another one.
That “tall enough” line is the measurement of youth. And it does not go backwards.”
But I don’t.
I remain silent.
And I watch them walk away in disappointment, as I stand there, my heart being the only thing shrinking.
8. Haunted Mansion.
My husband and I holding hands. Our children in a car ahead of us. Us. Kissing in the dark. Ghosts swirling around us.
Tired, aching feet.
Tired, happy soul.
Disneyland. Those are the memories I will take from the day. No pictures. Just images in my head.