I mentioned earlier that we went to Disney World in December. It was an interesting trip, for a variety of reasons, but there was one experience that stood out for me in the way it captured our family dynamics. The It’s a Small World ride. I know, I know. Some of you are rolling your eyes, grumbling about the song getting stuck in your head, and thinking of all of the other rides you’d rather ride. But I love It’s a Small World. I like the song, I think the dolls are adorable, and I love the simplicity of it all. There’s a magic in how low-tech the ride is (rather like the appeal of the original Star Wars movies over the newer, glitzier titles) and, if you’re paying attention, there are fun surprises around each turn. It’s just a side bonus that it’s a lovely place to relax and cool off if you’re in the park on a hot and crowded day.
Big Guy doesn’t like It’s a Small World so I offered to take the kids while he ran over to Space Mountain. We waited in line and I wondered how they would receive this older, but much-loved Disney attraction. Bug was excited for the boat, while LadyBug didn’t quite know what to expect. When we finally got to the front of the line, we boarded the boat with LadyBug first, me in the middle, and Bug on my other side.
Bug loved the ride. It’s not surprising. There was absolutely nothing scary or loud or threatening in any way. And there are just so many details to take in. He and I pointed out our favorite dolls and scenery and sang along with the music. He spent the whole time saying, “Mama, look at that goat! Look… it’s a kangaroo!” It’s exactly who he is on a daily basis. I sometimes joke that he narrates our lives and he doesn’t miss a single detail.
LadyBug spent most of the ride with her head resting on her arms on the side of the boat, staring dreamily at the sights. She didn’t point out any of the scenery, or acknowledge me when I tried to show her things I thought she’d like. She was happily in her own zone, just taking it all in. It was at this moment that I realized that my little girl DOES have something in common with me. She’s an introspective person and likes to spend time in her own head.
The kids loved the ride so much that they really wanted to share it with their dad. They told him all about it and asked several times if we could go back. So we did. Now, did I mention that Big Guy doesn’t really like the ride? Well, he was a trooper about it since the kids were so excited to share it with him. We waited in line and hopped on the boat with me next to LadyBug and Big Guy next to Bug. Through the whole ride, I could hear Bug chattering to Big Guy. It freed me up to sit in silence with LadyBug and just enjoy the the attraction.
And then we got to the end. The dolls were still singing and dancing when the lights came on and an announcement told us that the ride had temporarily stopped. Big Guy shifted in his seat. We waited. He shifted some more. The lights went out, but we were caught in a huge traffic jam in the last room of the ride. Big Guy didn’t say anything, but I could tell he was getting really restless. And that’s my husband. Not a big fan of seeing the sights, but willing to try to keep the rest of us happy.
And that is me. Trying to balance all of our different personalities and find activities that we can all enjoy. Maybe just a little bit too sensitive to how everyone else is feeling. While we’re at it, I’m the one who needs to check out and be in my own head sometimes, too.
Our Disney World vacation was so much fun, but it also magnified each of our personalities. Those two rides on It’s a Small World will probably stick with me forever. I hope so, because it reminds me that we are each (especially the kids!) our own people with our own needs. What works for one of us isn’t right for another. And yet, somehow, we make it all work.