March 17, 2017
By Ekta R. Garg
Enjoy these special vacation Spurts, readers! We returned on Monday from a wonderful week in Orlando and, more specifically, at Disney. Following are just a sampling of some of the fun moments we shared with the girls.
As we walked around Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney,) Ten and Eight spotted an open-air booth tucked in a corner between stores where children could get their face painted. A few children sat under the shelter and waited semi-patiently as the people painting their faces finished. Just outside the booth stood a sandwich board that showed the various options of designs.
“Can we go look?” Ten asked.
I hesitated, but then my husband and I exchanged a nonverbal conversation and then I shrugged and nodded. Both girls scampered to the sandwich board. After a few moments, I followed them and began looking at the designs and (more importantly) the prices.
“I wish we could get our faces painted,” Ten said in that fake wistful voice kids sometime use. I have to say, she truly loves performing. I’m surprised she didn’t cue her own “sad child” music.
“Yeah, well, I’m not paying fifteen dollars for you to get something that washes off at the end of the day,” I said as we walked away.
“Then why do you buy makeup?” she asked.
I would try to share what I said in return, but I don’t think I can accurately type the weird sounds coming out of my mouth that were supposed to sound like an intelligent response. Not one of my finest comeback moments, I have to say. With my older child, I’m finding, those comebacks are getting harder and harder.
On that same day to Disney Springs, we had lunch at the Rainforest Café. Toward the end of lunch, Eight said she had to go to the bathroom. She and I made our way to the back of the restaurant, and we struck up a conversation about Disney princesses.
“You know, there aren’t any Indian princesses,” she said. “Well, actually,” she corrected herself, “there’s Jasmine.”
“Jasmine isn’t Indian,” I said. “She’s Arabian.”
“No, she’s Indian,” Eight insisted.
“Nope,” I said. “Arabian.”
“But she lives in the Taj Mahal,” Eight said. “And wasn’t the Taj Mahal built by some Indian king for his wife?”
I saw the confusion. By then we’d gotten into the bathroom, so I told her to go finish up and then I’d explain. I have no proof of this, of course, but I’m sure that the entire time she was in the stall, the entire conundrum was spinning in her brain.
“Okay,” she said, as she came out and washed her hands, “explain it to me.”
I did, telling her that Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal, came from the Mughal empire and that the Mughals had a distinctive form of architecture. That architecture included the use of many onion domes, which are still favored by people who live in the Middle East. Also, the opening song in Aladdin is called Arabian Nights.
“So,” I finished, “Jasmine wasn’t Indian.”
Eight seemed satisfied with the answer, but it left me wishing, for probably the millionth time in my life, that Disney would make a bona fide Indian Disney princess. After all, India is home to Bollywood, the industry that reaps millions of dollars from “fairy tales.” Why not one with a stamp of approval from the Mouse?
One of the nicest things about going away on vacation is that we actually get to enjoy breakfast together as a family. During the normal drill of the week, everyone is up at different hours and eating (or not) at different times. But on vacation we all get to sit at the same table and chat and eat. It’s nice.
Because the hotel we were staying at in Orlando also offered breakfast in the morning, it was especially easy to get ready for the day and then just trot down to the dining area off the lobby. One morning as my husband picked up the latest copy of The Wall Street Journal, the WSJ’s magazine slipped out of the paper. I claimed it and began browsing, and as the girls finished their food they came to stand next to my chair and look over my shoulder at the oversize pages.
I love magazines, especially those where I can see a lot of time and care has been taken to present the material. The WSJ magazine, in particular, had some lovely double-page spreads of ads, and I couldn’t help pointing them out to the kids. I recognized several of the names of the advertisers, but the girls didn’t so we had a short conversation about high-end brands.
“You know,” Ten said, “most of those expensive brands end in vowels.”
I looked back at the magazine and started leafing through it again. Sure enough, she was right. Many of them do end in vowels. That led to another conversation, then, about how many of these brands actually come from other countries. I didn’t know how to navigate the idea of just what convinced people to plunk down thousands of dollars for a watch or an outfit, but fortunately the conversation didn’t go there (at least, not yet.)
Honestly, I have no idea how this child’s brain works, but now when I see or think about brand names I can’t help but wonder what else will come out of that head of hers.
On our last day in Orlando (and also our last day visiting the parks,) I made the mistake of bringing up our next trip to Disney World.
The girls were already moping, even at 10 a.m., that it was our last day. I thought talking about another trip would make them feel better. After all, what nicer way to end a vacation to a beloved location than to talk about coming back?
“So, here’s an idea,” I said. “In four years Disney World will celebrate their fiftieth anniversary. What if we come back then? I bet they’ll have some amazing stuff lined up.”
“Four years?!” Eight exclaimed.
Clearly, I had not thought the presentation of this idea all the way through. Instead of excitement and appreciation for what a golden anniversary could bring to the parks, the girls got even mopier. For the rest of the day, as we made our way through Epcot, they would smile and scream in delight and laugh during a ride or show then come out of it with mini glares in my direction that they wouldn’t be able to enjoy these things again for another four years.
“I’ll be twelve going on thirteen then,” Eight said toward the end of the day.
“I’ll be fourteen going on fifteen,” Ten said. “I haven’t even thought that far ahead!”
Have they ever stopped to consider that their father and I have thought that far ahead and the thought of both of them as teens scares us enough that maybe we’re trying to plan vacations as distraction tactics? For ourselves?