Are you the parent of a tween? Then you know what I'm going through. Eye rolls, sighs, "Mom, you're embarrassing me!," non-stop texting with friends and plenty of not-talking to Mom and Dad.
Up until these tween years, my daughter Jenna and I were inseparable. Storytime at the library, shopping, fingerpainting, and with my job as a Disney travel agent- trips to Walt Disney World every year. We did it all- Cinderella's Royal Table, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, My Perfectly Princess Tea Party. Pluto, or "Plut" as she would call him was her favorite character. As a struggling small business owner in a terrible economy, I could not afford to bring her to WDW when she was 10 or 11.
Last October, I decided on a "Girls Trip"- just me and my 12-year-old. This was bound to be interesting. I was a little nervous about if she was going to be "too old" for Disney World. My fears proved true. While she still loved the rides, our first day at Animal Kingdom tugged at my heartstrings. When we walked in who did I spot but "Plut" with no line at all. "Look there's Pluto, get up there!" I said. She slowly walked up, fixing her hair along the way for a photo-op. She put her hand on his arm- no hug and a fake smile. "Give him a hug, he's your favorite!" I yelled. "MOOOOMMMM, you're embarrassing me!" was her anguished reply.
Oh. My. God. My baby was not a baby anymore. Not even a little girl. She was "too cool" for Disney and it was absolutely horrifying.
There were other moments of this too cool attitude that made me cringe. At the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor Comedy Club for example, when the monsters say "Hello Humans!," all of us humans are supposed to respond with a scream while waving our hands over our heads. I (being the big kid that I am), would never dream of not responding to those monsters. I would look over at my daughter out of the corner of my eye to see if she was doing anything. Nope, just sitting there like a lump.
As I wrote about in a previous blog, I was invited to the annual Disney Earmarked Conference this March and was able to bring Jenna with me. Three nights at Coronado Springs Resort and then three nights aboard the new Disney Fantasy. This was her first Disney Cruise and I was curious to see how this experience would be for us. One of our first stops was back to the Laugh Floor Comedy Club. To my delight, when I looked out of the corner of my eye this time she was raising her hands (only up to her shoulders but it was something!) I was a happy mama.
On the Disney Cruise, she was smiling when we met Captain Mickey and even gave him a hug! On our first night we went to see the show "Wishes". It was about teenagers that were graduating high school and one of them thought going to Disney with her other Disney-loving friends was too kiddish. Of course by the end of the show, the "magic of Disney" prevailed. Jenna was clapping along with the rest of us and genuinely enthralled by the performance. I, of course, was in tears. We ended the evening by going in the hot tub overlooking the ocean. Her words to me in that hot tub "Mama, I love it here" made my heart swell. I took her on a little tour of the Kids Clubs, the Oceaneer's Club and Lab for younger children. I saw her looking through the window at the rooms- Toy Story and Pixie Hollow to name a few- with all the little children running around and having a blast. I said "Do you wish we took a Disney Cruise when you were younger?" and she nodded yes. Sniff!
On our trip to Castaway Cay, Disney's private island, it was like it was just the two of us in that beautiful turquoise water. I rented floats and we were floating and talking just like best friends. Our cruise was much too short, only 3 nights, and I was sad to see it come to an end. Did I mention that neither of us could use any cell phones or laptops while at sea? It was great to "disconnect" with the outside world and "reconnect" with my daughter. Since we returned it has been just like old times. I don't know how long it will last but for now I will take it.
My message to you all is one of Disney's slogans that you see on the commercials. "The Time Is Now". Don't wait until your kids are "too old". If you think they already are, try bringing them and maybe "the magic of Disney" will prevail for you as well. I know it did for us and for that I am forever grateful.
Bonnie Clark is the owner of , a travel agency specializing in Disney Destinations and Authorized Disney Vacation Planner located at the Quiambaug Cove Professional Center in Stonington. Office hours are by appointment. Web, email and phone support are available 24/7 You can also find Get Your Ears On! on Facebook at www.facebook.com/getyourearson.mystic