Coping with the Sass - How?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I spend a LOT of time in the car. I rely on satellite radio and my own iTunes library to keep me entertained (relatively sane) in Boston traffic on 95/128 (whichever, whatever, they are both awful). I have been more than entertained lately listening to Disney related podcasts that I stumbled onto through Touring Plans. Some of these are seriously laugh out loud hysterical and if you are into The World like me, I highly recommend checking them out. I'll put some links over there on the sidebar.

During a recent Disney Hipsters podcast (episode 77) the topic of alcohol in the Magic Kingdom was hotly (not really) debated and while I am firmly opposed for my own reasons, Jaime argued that alcohol is quite necessary to manage a day in the parks with young kids. I was instantly transported in time back to 2011 to this wonderful moment frozen in time by my husband. Not sure why he took it, but there it is, forever etched in our family history. In fact, I thought about this moment (and others like it from that trip) and changed my twitter avatar the very next day, submitting it as Exhibit A for the PRO side.


Look at that sass. Really soak it in. Take note of the "I don't care what you are saying to me and I refuse to even point my body in your direction" shoulder toss. Please note the amazing Itzakadoozie popsicle in her hand after she has TWICE gone on Big Thunder Mountain. Check out that stellar parenting on my part. I executed that "finger point" all through that trip. It wasn't until our last night when we had a heart to heart with another young family in line for Pooh and Tigger that we realized we were not alone in this complete and utter disregard for respect, sass, frass, and in general looks like this:


Poor baby was waiting for Hollywood Studios to open so she could be ushered right onto Toy Story Mania. It was a really rough morning. I don't get it either.

So how to deal with the sass. There is plenty of stress associated with going to the happiest place on Earth and even though that just doesn't make any sense, it is unfortunately very true. Planning and execution, every step of the way littered with pixie dust land mines. WDW4Families,another podcast of the now retired Touring Plans Podcast Network, covered this pretty comprehensively in Episode 38.

The lethal combination of stress and young children with a dash of Florida heat just for giggles makes this perhaps the most challenging family vacation you will ever have. You need to prepare for your children to run amok, to refuse to go on ANY rides (true story), to have eyes only for the pool at your resort, and to show you such utter disregard that you will look to your partner and communicate through that magic parent telepathy; "is this really happening?" He will reply with the look that says, "why did we spend all this money again?"

My daughter was four on our first trip and old enough to understand expectations, but she was just so full of energy and excitement and admittedly sugar, she was goner the moment we landed.  It wasn't all doom and gloom and if you are reading this thinking of postponing your trip until your kids are older, or when they will remember it, or when they can show you the respect you deserve as their parent, please don't.

Exhibit B.


Exhibit C.


Exhibit D.


It was not a stress-free trip. It was not all "unicorns, show ponies, where's the beef?" It was not blissful every waking moment of each day. It was not the perfect vacation.

It was magic. I had tears watching my daughter's face when her most favorite Princess Ariel was announced into the Banquet Hall at Cindy's. She had such true magical belief in that moment and how could any kid contain that kind of busting out of their skin magic? We head back to Disney in January and I know enough to expect some sass from both my kids. I expect shyness and tantrums and exhaustion and utter refusal to do things I know they would love just because being difficult can be fun sometimes. It doesn't make me rethink my plans at all.

How to cope with the sass:

* Remove them from the situation and redirect. Take a walk, go look at something else, suggest a snack or a sip of water, spend another 45 minutes at the Winnie the Pooh play area, whatever it takes to move past it. My son is still very open to this "squirrel" strategy a la Doug from Up.

* Don't make silly threats you don't intend to follow through on. "We will leave the Magic Kingdom and never come back!" (unless you really REALLY mean it)

* Breathe deeply, this too shall pass.

* Get a stroller for your big kids too, deal with the looks of passerby. A safe place to be alone and away from all the in your face stimulus can do wonders.

* Try not to remind them how much you paid for this trip, today's ticket, the ice cream they just enjoyed. Little ones have NO concept of money, two dollars and two hundred might as well be the same and all you are doing is stripping the magic away. It's hard to have fun when you are thinking of the money Mom and Dad spent to do this and honestly, does a three year old care?

* Remove, refresh, restart. If all else fails and you have to leave the park (it happens and it isn't the end of the world), allow some time for everyone to put what happened behind them, rest, and restart again when everyone seems ready to try again.

* Consider pushing through. We tried to nap my 20 month old everyday, religiously leaving the park to go back to the hotel, and each day he fell asleep en route and woke up the moment he hit the room's AC. Our last day he was an utter MESS and we decided to just push through, somehow got him to sleep in the stroller and it was the best day we had.

* When all else fails - Mickey Bar.

The big take home: Traveling with little ones is a huge GAMBLE. It is not relaxing. Vacations with kids are not vacations. You are there to be together, to have fun, and to make important family memories. They might not remember the trip, but you will. Try to spend it in a way that will make you recall less Exhibit A and more of those magical moments your children experienced in a world where there doesn't seem to be a lot of that left. Accept that there will be sass, but have a plan to put it back in its place so you can all continue onward to the next opportunity for pixie dust.

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