Maybe 3 was too young. Maybe it wasn't smart to go on Presidents' Day Weekend -- and during "Jamzilla," the closure of our main Los Angeles freeway. Maybe I should have brought a towel.
There was peer pressure, though.
For most people, going to Disney is a monumental vacation -- a week-long extravaganza with hotels, rental cars and other signs of advanced planning. But in Southern California, Disney is a place to kill a few hours. You just go, and you go often. (College fund, schmollege fund.) Everyone we know had been there already with their preschoolers. I didn't want Viv to be the last kid on her block to be traumatized by a giant mute mouse.
We started our day all smiles, dressed in Disney princess finery.
Then we got detoured off the freeway and spun in circles for a while until I heard the telltale retching from the back seat.
After my poor carsick kid tossed her cookies all over her taffeta, I realized that although I'd brought a change of clothes for her, I had nothing for mopping up. I whipped off my own t-shirt (at 70 mph) and handed it to her, arriving at the Goofy garage in a sports bra.
At least there is no shortage of things to buy at Disney.
It only went sideways from there.
If you want to read about Disney magic, check out my friend Mommy Man's heartwarming post, Just a Couple of Gay Dads at Disney World.
If you want reality, here it is -- the GOOD, the BAD and the STICKY:
1. You'll spend far more time in line than on rides.
My 3-year-old can't wait two seconds for me to finish slicing her apple. How is she supposed to wait 40 minutes to meet Minnie Mouse?
I'll give Disney this: I never waited on line for the ladies' room. If your child is begging for "just one more ride," you can suggest Potty Town.
2. The longer you wait in line to take a picture, the more likely it is that you'll have no usable photos.
This really says it all:
3. Your family will be a walking stereotype.
Yanking on the ropes while waiting in line? Check. Running away from me in a crowd so often I start to reconsider kid leashes? Check. Licking a pole? Check.
My kid engaged in all the classic amusement park misbehaviors, and yours will too. Who can blame them? Would you rather be the "remain seated" picture on the left, or these party people on the right? Hey, Macarena!
4. Your kid will freak out about something you had no idea was scary.
I expected the 6-foot-tall Disney characters to be a little jarring. But when Viv grabbed my leg and shielded her eyes from this tiny animatronic gopher, I knew Space Mountain wasn't in the cards.
5. Your favorite ride will be closed for maintenance.
WTF, are you kidding me "It's A Small World"? That's the one song my kid knows. Shockingly, the Small World gift shop was still open.
6. There will be boo-boos.
The couch in Minnie's house LOOKS so soft, but it's actually rock hard ceramic or something, so maybe don't dive face first into it, sweetie pie.
7. You will be sticky.
Start by saying "yes" to every sugary nightmare you'd never agree to at home.
Then add food coloring.
And then just go ahead and wipe that on my shirt. No problem.
8. There's no accounting for taste.
My daughter's number one favorite attraction? This garbage can:
We played "Mommy do you have any more trash for me to throw out?" for longer than the entire duration of The Jungle Cruise.
9. Disney will occasionally let you down.
During lunch, I watched some poor sap wait 20 minutes to meet Pluto only for Pluto to abruptly clock out and leave him and everyone behind him hanging. "Mommy, they're booing Pluto!" is not something you hear every day.
10. But Disney will always make it up to you.
When our family just missed getting onto a train, the conductor handed Viv an "Honorary Citizen of Disneyland" button, which she didn't take off for two days.
Also, there was this:
Also on The Huffington Post: