My birthday was October 15, just a week ago. I had a great time, I was with my family at Disney World. The happiest place on earth! It's been years since I've visited, and boy have things changed. It is much more family friendly than I remember. Being able to charge food and gift shop purchases to my hotel room no matter which of the four parks I'm visiting??? Brilliant! That's less money for me to keep track of! The sales clerk at the gift shop offering to send my purchase to my hotel room for me??? Amazing! Now I don't have to carry bags around for the rest of the day! Childcare was provided for us at our hotel, so my husband and I got to have a romantic dinner together and stay out late! How about that? But the coolest part, and maybe most subtle change from what I observed, was how many gay couples I saw holding hands around the park. Maybe this was always acceptable at Disney, but I wouldn't know, because I never really cared as an eight year old who just wanted to see Mickey Mouse. What I DO know, is that the two men dressed up in costumes giggling like eight year olds, holding hands next to my children, did absolutely nothing to break up my family's union. In fact, my kids got a kick out of a female dancer in the halloween parade blowing kisses to them and shouting "Hey handsome!" Other than that, my girls could have cared less. My husband and I could look fondly at the romantic couple and be reminded of a time in our lives before we had kids, when we didn't have to worry about homework and soccer schedules and potty training. I feel it was a much more positive viewpoint then watching them with disdain and hate.
We never went to Disney as adults, just the two of us. We waited until we had kids, when we knew we were going to have to go at some point. And as adults, it is just as much fun as when we were kids. Seeing Disney through the girls' eyes was magical, and knowing the amount of work and attention to detail that goes into running these parks is overwhelming and makes my head spin. Throughout the entire trip, I practiced what it was like to be a kid again. I watched the two men next to me with delight, because they "got it." Where else can you stuff yourself with caramel apples from an old fashioned confectionary that entices you in by wafting the smell of cotton candy all the way down main street? Or dress up head to toe in costume and squeal in delight/horror as the headless horseman comes barreling down the street on a huge black stallion? Better yet, all of the above at the same time?
Then I get back to Memphis. Don't get me wrong. I adore my city. But we have some very adult issues. The entire country has a very adult duty in which to partake with the upcoming elections and voting already underway. I was reminded about this as I drove by Planned Parenthood today and saw the people picketing outside the front steps. "End Abortion Now" it said on one sign. I admire what these guys are doing. They are so passionate that they picket rain or shine. But I would love to address the issues surrounding why women have abortions in the first place. Why not carry signs outside Planned Parenthood that say "End Rape Now" or "End Incest Now" or "End (fill in health issue) Now" or begin a "Communicate with your Kids" or "Raise Confident Kids" campaign outside of Planned Parenthood? In doing research for another project, I found where children's museums had quit posting "Don't Run" signs because they don't work, and instead posted "Please Walk" signs instead. Whenever I talk to my kids and catch myself saying "don't..." it takes me about two seconds to realize they aren't listening. So I change it around to something positive. And bingo! Success! Now that doesn't mean we don't run into issues, we do pretty regularly, but it's amazing how much easier life is when you can change perspectives. The situation itself may not change, but there is not a single negative thought in my mind. Even if opinions don't change, changing the wording of thoughts to try to see it through someone else's eyes is a powerful exercise.
One that I wish more people and more politicians would do. And instead of the attack ads, maybe something more positive? I love I have a right to vote, but have come to dread election season. Maybe I'll just go back to the candy coated fluffy streets where there are parades and fireworks every night. Where everyone loves one another and walks hand-in-hand without judgement. Where families are forced to interact with eachother and share experiences away from bustling every day life. I have come to understand why Disney might actually be the happiest place on earth. Even if the buildings aren't real and the guy in the Goofy costume is a drama school drop-out, I may just be okay with that for now.