We can both sit here and pretend that your children are going to be absolutely perfect during your entire trip to Disney and that the likelihood of a misbehavior “incident” is small, but Rad Dad doesn’t deal in the currency of fantasy — only truth. And he also apparently refers to himself in third person…
It’s bound to happen. Your carefully planned trip is going well: the trip down was enjoyable and without incident, the weather is not too terribly hot, and the reservations are just as they should be. But as I mentioned last week, the most carefully laid plans can be quickly derailed by unforeseen circumstances, and sometimes those “unforeseen circumstances” are little more than your child (or children) completely melting down like Te Ka in search of the heart of Te Fiti. So what do you do? Well, as you might expect, I have a few suggestions.
Toss Them from an Overpass
I’m only kidding. We don’t condone tossing your progeny off transportation structures unless they really deserve it or resemble tiny, four-foot-tall Gary Buseys. If that’s the case, “this…is…SPARTA!”
Assess the Situation
Where are you at the moment? Are you about to commit yourself to a ride, show, or line? If not, you’re in luck: Nicole has you covered. If exhaustion is creeping in, consider taking a break. If he or she is getting squirmy in a not endearing way, considering taking a play break. If hunger is the culprit, burn a snack credit or two and find some shade. (This is why I personally always recommend the dining plan to anyone who has children under the age of six.) The context of the prospective meltdown matters, and it’s a lot easier to head it off at the pass before you’re committed to a ride or show. Of course, if you’re actually in a line or a show, consider making a quick escape. Clearly, you don’t want to be that person, and you should know your child well enough to know whether or not this little emotional infraction will be over quickly or last for some time. Other guests don’t want their experiences ruined, so bid the attraction adieu and make like a tree and get out of there. (Biff Tannen? Anyone?) You’ll be improving your park experience as well because changing the environment does wonders to smooth out rough seas, and you might be able to distract your turbulent roller coaster of feelings with one of the aforementioned alternatives and find yourselves back in line a short time later.
Give Them Money
I know what you’re thinking,
“Wait, hold on, I thought he said that he and Rad Mom were teachers! Teachers can’t afford to just hand out money to their children. They shouldn’t even be able to afford Disney! They can barely afford basic necessities. They’re lucky they have a roof over –”
Ok, we get it. Are you done?
What I mean is that children are often blown away by the sheer scope of Disney memorabilia offered in the parks and at the resorts — and so are their parents. This can lead to many parents tossing money around as if they’re a Leonardo diCaprio meme and thus raising the expectation levels of their children to unrealistic heights. When the parents try to put the brakes on, their children — probably buried under mounds of Disney swag in strollers that are riding on their axles — naturally don’t understand why the money train dried up like Wesley Snipes’s career. (Am I the only one laughing at these references? Please tell me you got that.) On our first two trips to Disney, I didn’t know that it would become such a fixture in our lives, so I bought anything and everything for the cute little Rad girls thinking that it could be years before we’d ever be back. Now, since we make our way down there about once a year, it’s important to keep spending under control. I typically get the Rad girls a Disney gift card before we go and tell them that it’s their spending money — none will be added. (They’ve been known to collect a bit extra from relatives as well, especially for their birthdays.) Now they have a set amount to spend, and if Rad Mom and I want to look like the best parents ever, we’ll add a little treat here or there out of our own pockets. Rest assured that the sum total is far less than what I was spending when I was doing my best The Wolf of Wall Street impression.
What’s that? Young children don’t understand the concept of money? Oh, I disagree.
Because young children absolutely understand things, and saying that he or she can afford this thing but not that thing if he or she buys the two other things gets the bartering wheels turning and pretty soon concepts start forming. It’s a great way to help children understand limits while still leaving yourself some wiggle room to look like the hero for grabbing that plush Mickey on the way out of Magic Kingdom and surprising him or her on the last night. Way to go, fellow Rad Fams!
Keep Your Reactions in Check
If you’re a decent human being then your child’s meltdown will embarrass you. This is fine. Tantrums are embarrassing, and no one likes to be a part of them. However, escalating the situation won’t help, and it’s better to steal away to somewhere quiet and off the beaten path to let him or her calm down than decide that you’re absolutely not going to budge on this very important topic in the middle of the Hall of Presidents standing in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln. No one begrudges a fellow parent a little discretion when it comes to an unruly toddler or child who is clearly at the end of his or her rope, but most people don’t want to see an episode of The Tiny Kardashians play out right before their eyes while they’re reading about the Great Emancipator. They will think less of you if you make the situation worse. I’ll be honest: I’ve been guilty of this, more with Rad Ella than Rad Hallie. She was just more susceptible to ups and downs, and you can’t help but feel that you’re wasting time and money. The more you exacerbate the situation then the more time and money you are sure to waste, so react as calmly as possible and don’t give in to the temptation to remind your young DNA vessel that you have spent a lot of money on this vacation so he or she had better have a good time. While a young child might be able to comprehend the basic transactions of simple bartering, he or she likely does not understand money (or credit — sweet, sweet credit) that was used to the tune of several thousand dollars. You’re only making yourself more upset in that case.
At the end of the day, all kids will inevitably have their moments. It’s up to you to remember that you’re the adult, Disney is the location, and there is still plenty of fun to be had. You literally have a magical world at your fingertips helping to keep you calm, cool, and collected. It could be worse: you could be at home where all you have to keep yourself calm is half a bottle of Jim Beam, you’re not cool because the AC is out again, and the only collecting going on is the guy with the flatbed who’s taking your Suburban because you spent all of your money taking your bratty kids to Disney.
Rad Dad, out.
Thanks to @dizdad and @magicalshannonmarie for the photo assist!