Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Parenting Rite of Passage I Almost Got Wrong

I have palm and fruit trees in my yard.  I don’t own a winter coat that would actually keep me warm in real cold.  I wear flip flops on Christmas.  And though I rarely take advantage, I could hit the beach close to 365 days a year.

Clearly there’s a reason why Southern California is consistently voted the most desirable place to live in the United States, but having been born and bred in the North East, living on the left coast definitely requires some sacrifice.  We’ve missed many a birthday, barbeque and blizzard, but that’s not all.  This summer taught me that we’ve blown one of parenting’s greatest rites of passage.

(hint, hint)
Unlike many who use Facebook only to put their best foot forward for others, I use it to take a step back.  I actually read your posts and look at your photos (assuming they are not of abused animals).  I enjoy seeing where people’s lives have taken them partly because I truly care, and partly because of the perspective it gives me on my own life.

So to all of you that hopped planes to Orlando this summer to spend tons of hard earned money on airfare, hotel rooms with fold out cots, pricey character breakfasts and day after day of long lines at Disneyworld, I envy you.

My mother treated my girls to their first trip to California's Disneyland to jointly celebrate their 2nd and 4th birthdays.  We slept at home the night before and the night after.  We drove less than 90 minutes, round trip.  We didn’t have to deal with time zone changes, monorail stops, or forgotten toiletries.  And we visited the park on a holiday, so the lines were minimal.  It was simple… and perfect.

Now for those of you mumbling “screw you” under your breath, I say “right back at you”.

My friend Kim Trespicio O’Brien, Bolton, Massachusetts mother of Mason (7) and Kenzie (5), says she asked her husband Joe how long they’d have to wait to bring her firstborn to Disney just moments after she brought him into the world.  And while they did end up waiting until both kids were out of diapers and over naps, they’ve taken the trip more than once since.  I will say that the kids enjoyed it more than us” she says, “but I wouldn't bet everything on that.  I'm appreciating it through new eyes as an adult and a parent.”

Well I saw the photos Kim posted on her Facebook page, and my money is on her.

My mother often jokes about the time we drove from Connecticut to Orlando.  I was three years old when we took off from our home in the middle of the night to pick up friends that were traveling with us.  As we pulled into their driveway, less than 30 minutes from ours, I awoke and asked “are we there yet?”

When I think about the sacrifice my parents made for that trip, just like Kim and Joe made for theirs, my perspective on so many things change.  Parenting isn’t just about the times you say “no”.  It is about the times you say “yes”, and the joy you feel as a result.

My girls don’t yet know that Disneyland is just a speck compared to Disneyworld.  They have no idea what that big golf ball is, or what the tasty lollypops are that everyone would bring back to their classroom from “overseas”.

Still, one thing is quite clear.  Someday, they will start asking for things bigger and better than what I can offer them…  a new car, help with college tuition, or the wedding of their dreams.  And while there is definitely value taught in having to say “no”, I look forward to the few times I can say “yes”... including, of course, the day I can say "Yes, we're going to Disneyworld".