So here's the story.
We got to Disney's Animal Kingdom around 1pm. We didn't have an agenda. We just wondered around.
A BUG'S LIFE - 5 minute wait.
That caught our eye. We followed the crowd into a magical underground cave. Our kids shivered in anticipation of their first taste of the famous Disney Magic.
"May frighten some small children," the sign said. "Contains DARKNESS."
"Pshaw," we said. "Our kids are tough."
But it wasn't a ride. No, it was a 4-D movie. We were in the front row. We put on our glasses. And then giant, animatronic bugs started popping out. No problem.
Then a giant stink bug farted on us and a termite spit water at us.
The biscuit began to squirm.
"Don't worry," we said. "It's just a funny movie. Robots. No big deal."
Then an enormous, angry, terrifying grasshopper popped out of the wall, filled the room with thick, white smoke and blinking red lights, and screeched KILL ALL HUMANS! KILL ALL HUMANS! ALL HUMANS MUST DIE!
And my child completely lost her shit.
So we left. In the melee, her headband was lost. So we bought her some pink leopard Minnie Mouse ears and found a nice, harmless triceratops to ride instead.
Later that evening, the Biscuit and I went with the rest of the group to see the fireworks and parade at Magic Kingdom.
"Is it going to be scary?" she asked.
"No," I said.
"But it's dark. And loud."
"Yeah, and it's going to be awesome."
Luckily, the parade came first. And it was awesome.
Then everything got dark. Tinkerbell hurtled out of Cinderella's castle on a zipline, and the Biscuit was afraid she was going to die.
"No way," I said. "She's a fairy. If she gets hurt, we'll just clap really hard."
Then they started flashing lights on the castle.
So that was beautiful and calming.
And then the fireworks started.
And the Biscuit freaked.
And I said, "Dude, look around. Everyone here is having the best time of their life. There's no danger. It's just pretty."
So she relaxed and watched, enraptured. And I tried to capture interesting pictures with my camera, because it really was beautiful.
Then someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to find a young mother with a stroller.
She smiled with gentle reproof and said, "Instead of taking pictures, you should be watching your daughter's face."
And I smiled in gentle reproof and said, "Let me guess. That's your first child."
She didn't want to talk to me after that.
I used to do that, too-- to judge other parents for every moment they didn't spend gazing in amazement and wonder at their child. But you know what? I have two kids now. And I've learned that if I'm going to stay sane, I need to gaze at them in wonder and amazement, snap a picture, and then do something that makes *me* feel fulfilled as a human being. Whether that's talking to other adults, reading a book, or, yes, taking pictures of something interesting, I'm not going to accept gentle admonishment from strangers who think they're going to teach me a valuable life lesson while their kid drinks Coke from a sippy cup.
In any case, we were all filled with wonderment and amazement, and then the Biscuit promptly fell asleep on my shoulder.
You want to see real parenting, lady? Don't judge me for taking pictures of fireworks. Judge me for carrying a 40-pound dead weight for two hours, for sitting out the ride I wanted to ride after waiting in line for an hour, for waking up with a smile at 6:30 the next morning, for never getting a chance to ride Space Mountain.
I NEVER GOT TO RIDE SPACE MOUNTAIN.
Judge me for wearing those leopard-print Minnie ears because she asked me to keep them safe while she slept.
And the next day, she was fearless enough to ride The Haunted Mansion.
"I'm not scared of that old zombie," she said.
Take that, giant fart bugs.