Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Splash Mountain Double Meltdown

"How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!" -William Shakespeare

These things happen. Tantrums. Moods. Or as I'm about to describe, meltdowns. They're part of parenting. Sometimes you can anticipate them, even prepare for them like an approaching thunderstorm. Then there are times when no amount of preparation can prevent the debacle that follows.

So close. Yet so far away.
What makes this double meltdown story ironic is it took place in the so-called "happiest place on earth." That's right: Walt Disney World. More specifically, The Magic Kingdom. Splash Mountain to be exact.

It was day four of our whirlwind Disney adventure. After three days of non-stop, drag-your-child-to-every-possible-attraction family fun, I somehow woke up rejuvenated that morning. This would be our last day in the Magic Kingdom. And even though My Director is the one who planned most of the itinerary before and during the trip, I had decided to flex a little muscle. What can I say? I was feeling ambitious.

I seized the map of the park like a greedy pirate of the Caribbean and checked to see which "grown-up" rides Peanut was tall enough to go on. And there it was. My buried treasure: Splash Mountain, in all of its 40" minimum height requirement glory. Peanut just met the requirement. My mission was clear: ride this ride with Peanut at any and all costs because a) she's going to love it and b) I remember riding it with my parents and loving it.

Best to keep a grumpy Peanut in a bubble.
But a funny thing happened on the way to Frontier Land... we decided to spend the morning in Tomorrow Land because a certain large child (me) wanted to ride Space Mountain before the line got too long. And that plan backfired because when it was my time to conquer Splash Mountain with Peanut, she had already begun a downward spiral like she did every day in the early afternoon. You see, a Walt Disney World vacation is equal parts torture and amusement for a child. You keep her up until way past her bedtime and then you wake her up after she's had a lot less sleep than she's used to. You finally get her dressed and fed but she's still wearing her cranky pants while you push her in the stroller. She loves the monorail so that starts to snap her out of it. Then you get her to the park and she's as ready as she'll ever be. For the rides and the heat and the shows and the walking and the characters. Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. A picture with Chip and Dale. The Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor. (highly recommended.)

It's all my fault. I kept telling My Director that I wanted a memory with Peanut, just me and her. That's where I was treading in dangerous waters. Expectations can come back to bite you where the briar patch hurts the most. Besides, I was rolling the dice sending us to Tomorrow Land first. And they came up snake eyes.

We finally arrived at the foot of Splash Mountain.  The wait was just a half an hour. I had timed it perfectly. There would be no other time to do this given what we had planned the rest of the trip. Peanut, having come down from the euphoria of Tomorrow Land and having just met Tinker Bell, had entered moodyville. To make matters worse, My Director wasn't feeling well either. And Peanut is an "I want mommy to go on too" kind of girl. Still, I persisted. My Director insisted. Peanut resisted. Had Peanut just waited in line with me, she would have worked herself out of her mood by the time we boarded our log.

Instead, she cried because My Director couldn't go with us. Then she refused to listen when I tried to explain how much fun we'd have and how she'd love it just like she loved the Log Flume at Great Adventure last summer. Nope. All I got was a stone-cold, furrowed-browed, thumb-in-the-mouth refusal.

Since I took so many pictures of grumpy Peanut,
My Director took a picture of me every time I was grumpy.
This is me hours after "Splash Mountain," still not over it.
Disappointed, it was now time for my meltdown. And I was in rare form. This is what I was looking forward to all day. For two days in fact. And she ruined my good time, my moment, my memory. And I basically said as much loud enough for her to hear me in her stroller. When My Director tried to be the voice of reason, I shouted her down. I actually said, "No. I want her to feel guilty. I want her to know that I can't go on a ride because of her selfishness." Incidentally, I am still accepting letters of recommendation for my father of the year application, if you're so inclined.

Not my proudest moment as a parent, to say the least.

The day after we returned home, I drove Peanut to school. Her friends were so happy to see her after she had been away for five days. Some of them came rushing up to us. Knowing we were in Disney World, they immediately bombarded us with questions. The first - and last - one I fielded was from a classmate who had recently been to Disney with his family. He looked me right in the eyes with a big smile and said, "Did you go on Splash Mountain?!"

Still a little bitter from the double meltdown that occurred less than 48 hours earlier, my heart immediately sank, my smile suddenly faded, my mood totally changed, "No," I said coldly. "We didn't get to that one."

I'm over it now. Mostly. And if Peanut remembers this incident, she doesn't talk about it. She remembers the good times. That's perfect. At least we have a reason to go back.

I have more proof of Peanut only remembering the positive from our trip. You can read about it here.


  1. god. what a jerk she is. I woulda gone on it with you. ;) We adults have our own temper tantrums, and they aren't nearly as cute or easily forgiven.

    1. No. Not at all. I was a complete jerk. But on a happier note: me, you, My Director, and DH would totally have a blast in Disney.

  2. Last year, while at Disney, my wife and oldest son (7 at the time), got stuck on Splash Mountain for about 20 minutes. They were on an incline and in the sun. When the ride finally restarted and completed, my son declared that he didn't want to go on again with me. Fair enough, I thought, that was quite the ordeal.

    Yet, later on, he changed his mind and went on the ride with me. I was quite proud.

    There were other rides that he (and my then-3 year old) refused to go on with me, though. Thankfully, when we go again in a few weeks, my in-laws will be there with us. They can take the cranky kids while my wife and I ride the rides!

  3. I'll vote for you. Been there melted down like that too. Sometimes it has been hard to recognize who is the kid and who is the adult in our family. Its probably the reason we haven't been back to Disney in a while.

    1. HA! We actually are talking about when to go back. I have no idea why.

  4. We all have our moments. I have been known to have the same moments as you did and the wife calls me out during them.

  5. Although I've never been to Disney World, I've been "there" and on more than one occasion I've been known to ask no one in particular if I will ever be able to have fun again in my life. I'll still fill out that application for father-of-the-year because you're dad enough to admit you had a meltdown.

  6. Oh no! NOt a Disney! Not at Splash Mountain! My wife and kids are going to Disneyland tomorrow...I'm working, so I can't join, but i'm not TOO bummed.

  7. LOVED this part of the Retrospective! Kids are SO selfish and careless when it comes to parents' feelings! ;) Been there my friend, and probably not for the last time. Mine's 9, and I'm sure this will happen to me again, lol

    1. She should have known how much I was looking forward to that ride. Selfish little Peanut. This makes me think the teenage years are going to b quite a challenge.


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