The Mouse’s House

I’m hot. I’m cold. I’m thirsty. Goofy! I’m hungry. I want. No, I want. But, I want. Well I don’t want. Mom, I picked the wrong one. Yes, I already opened it and dropped it in the fountain. Oh look, Ariel! But I wanted the other one. Can we take it back? Can we? Buzz! Can we, mom? Now?

Last week we went to Disneyland on vacation.

Lots of things happened.

But today, while it’s fresh in my mind, I want to tell you how we beat The Mouse.

We used a little-talked about and absolutely necessary piece of the Disney Experience, whether it be Land, World or Cruise: The Recalibration.

Disney is designed to twist kids up and out of their minds and the corporation is not winning until a certain percentage of parents have been driven by their over-stimulated, sugar-crashing, nap-skipping, parade-missing mini-menaces into the nearest gift shop where only $150 of sour balls and princess dresses will stop the screaming.

The Mouse relies on your compliant herd behavior as a parent. To take their gently proffered toddler tantrum solutions in the form of a stuffie or an ice cream. To use one of their strategically placed and impeccably clean bench nooks to have that discussion with your nine year old about his frowny face.

But this was not our first Toy Story Rodeo.

And sometimes, it needs to rain at The Happiest Place on Earth.

For us, that moment came four hours into the first day, when I realized I was walking with little tyrants only loosely resembling my children.

The urge to whine at them was strong. Come on, you guys. Be nice. We came all this way to have fun.

But I know that showing weakness is how you lose to The Mouse.

And so I found myself holding up ALL THE PEOPLE on their way from Soarin’ to the Little Mermaid while I reminded my chickens loudly at the end of my finger just who is the Queen of this little kingdom.

There are rules for a Disney Recalibration.

Please make it as public as possible, like a PSA for all the other kids walking by.

People will queue up to go around you, because if there’s anything we learn at Disney, it’s how to move through a line in orderly fashion. They don’t judge either, since everyone is a dropped churro away from having the same moment.

Except for the mom who leans into your line of vision, pats you on the back and tells you “Get ‘em, girl!” She has probably already completed a successful Recalibration of her own. High five her without breaking eye contact with your children, because that bad-a**ery will imprint itself on your preteen’s soul. If you will bring the thunder at The Happiest Place on Earth, no telling where you’ll stop. You want him to remember that.

Do not skimp on the Recalibration. Not unless you want to do it again. And again. And again.

Instead, make it count. Build a wall of consequences around your children that is iron clad.

Then test it. March your three year old to see Elsa. Tell her it’s a 90 minute line. If she offers to wait patiently, you are in business.

But if she shrugs it off completely and asks for the Tower of Terror instead, that’s when you’ll know for sure.

Mama: 1. Mouse: 0

Kate Disney
This was Kate on Day 2. Recalibration pay-off: happy children who pose flawlessly 50 feet off the ground.

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