When I started teaching, I was 22 and I literally had to practice my “tough” faces in the mirror before school. I’m now in my pre-40s and I don’t have to practice anymore.
In fact, over the last snowstorm, we passed some time playing with costumes, and when I put on my old Snow White costume, spoke in a very soft voice, and watched my own kids quickly fall into line as they tried to impress the princess. In fact, there is much discussion of expanding my wardrobe to include the princess who reads (Belle), the princess who is tough (Mulan) and the princess who swims (Ariel) although I’d have to work on that voice.
Between casting sessions in my own living room, I had been planning our family trip in August using the magic three: All Ears, Touring Plans, and the online dining reservations area of Disneyparks.com.
Twitter following and supplemental blog reading kept me in the know, or so I thought. If Belle reads books, and Snow White prepares meals for dwarves, which princess follows blogs? Apparently, I do.
By early March, I had read, heard, and analyzed a lot of information about how this summer was going to special, including the new/old parade, Main Street Electrical Parade. When Disney Parks tweeted that the dates had been set, I was ready to smugly fit them into my later summer plans. They were not on the same web page. The parade, according to Disney’s own blog, was scheduled to leave the day my family would arrive.
Since we are less than 180 day out, and I am not a Martian, I have a meal reserved that day in another park. We’ll be meeting the princesses at Epcot. We have Valentines in storage. We have gifts selected. We were discussing which dresses they’d wear each, and why Mommy can’t wear one to! (FYI, “It is a Disney rule” works when “It is a Mommy rule” fails).
Then I remembered about that OTHER princess meal. The one in the big ‘ole castle. What were the odd that a space would be open after we arrived from a 13-hour car ride, but before the Swan Song of the coolest parade of my youth, which featured my first love, Eliot the Dragon?
Turns out, there were two. However, when I asked about the parade times for the day, the Cast Member (CM) on the phone explained to me that I was thinking about the Electrical Water Pageant (which she thought would be discontinued in April). I thanked her for the gossip, but explained, “We are not talking about the same thing.” I told her that this was the parade Walt Disney World would be borrowing (back) from Disneyland, and it was called The Main Street Electrical Parade. She told me that her manager was IM-ing her and they knew about the Main Street parade (whew), but the name of that was “Spec-tro-mag-ic.” Apparently, it goes down Main Street.
I almost went Ursula, but my son was home, and I needed to model my manners and self-control. I employed some Mommy rules that I normally save for his conflicts with his little brother, or meetings at work when someone says my student can’t participate in something because of their disability:
- Not everyone learns everything at the same time. If someone hasn’t learned something, it isn’t about you. They just don’t know it at this minute.
- Not everyone has the same tools to do things, like perfect ears for hearing or fast legs for running.
- Yelling, even at bad guys, makes you the bad guy.
- Think about why you started this talk in the first place, not about what made you mad during the talk, or you will just get distracted from your mission.
Turns out that all of these rules applied to my situation.
- The CM did not know about the Disney Parks Blog, the Social Media Moms event, or who the social media director who posted the article was.
- I mentioned Twitter, and didn’t even get an “oh yeah”. It seems she is not a ND-CM. Not yet. She was using her boss’s pop up messages, and an out of date calendar as her tools. Since they don’t compete with my resources (like you, if you are reading this and likely to blog, tweet, or gossip about it) she is at a disadvantage. Perhaps she will check it out another day.
- I took a deep breath and said, in my best Snow White voice, “It sounds like our information doesn’t match, but I bet you can still help me make that a great day at the Magic Kingdom instead of Epcot, no matter what I see that night.”
- I realized that in the 20 minutes of back and forth I might lose the reservation, so I asked if an early dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table was still an option on that day, and which princesses she thought might be there. While the second point was kind of vague, there certainly was room for four of us, but there might not be if I hung up and called back (which I considered) tomorrow. She reminded me that our favorite princesses are also around the parks.
I quickly secured our seat for some Royal chicken nuggets, and non-alcoholic beverages.
I then caved, seeking approval like a needy teenager in a poufy gown, and asked her if she thought my plan made sense. She did have the magic sentence at the tip of her tongue that I needed to hear.
“There is nothing like eating at a castle.”
I sat down with my less flexible child and explained that we changed our plans a little bit, and we might not see the same characters we thought we would, but we’d be in a castle, which is pretty amazing. I told him how the lady said lots of characters walk around the park on Saturdays. He reminded me of the main idea of the book we’d read the night before, which was that sometimes things change, and that is OK. He also reminded me of the rule about not wearing my princess costume to the castle, because only little girls can do that, so kids don’t get confused when it is not Halloween.
I agreed, but thought about why my wearing a costume was so much fun for them? Was it the dress-up part? Did I look like Belle or Snow White to them? Is it because I am a grown up girl?
It was then brought to my attention that when I am “on stage” in the playroom, I speak in a quiet, calm voice, without a trace of neurosis. Now he calls me a new princess name – The Princess and The Blog.
Contributed by: Shannon S. (NDM#174). Shannon is our resident special needs specialist and parenting expert as well as creator of Meltdown Free Disney.
Shannon Sullivan, creator of MeltdownFreeDisney, is an early intervention specialist for children with special needs and writes about assistive technology, parenting and education by day (or whenever the house is quiet). She has 2 young princes (or pirates) and lives in the metro DC area. She is NDM # 174.