I read in the paper recently that Disney will now require children to be accompanied by a chaperone who is at least 14 years old (Los Angeles Time, 3/19/2013) at their Southern California Disneyland parks.
This is going to spoil some plans I had for spring break for my 12-year old daughter Meg. I was going to dump her and her gaggle of preteen friends for a day (or two. Or three) at the park at some point during their 3-week spring break. Yeah, I was counting on Minnie and Mickey being their sitters. My kids have been going to Disneyland on the Southern California passes since they were babies, and they know the place like the backs of their hands. Admission isn’t exactly cheap these days, but it’s still better than flying to Hawaii for a vacation like we did last year.
Now, what am I going to do?
Disneyland might be the happiest place on earth, but I can’t imagine my daughter being very happy having her mother hang around her and her friends all day. No matter how cool I may think I am as a mom, I am one of the dorkiest human beings alive in her adolescent mind. She certainly wouldn’t want to be seen at Disneyland with this middle-aged lady trailing her, what with my wide-rim hat protecting my skin from age spots, sun glasses attached to Croakies hanging around my neck, and a fanny pack around my waist keeping my hands free to take pictures and dispense hand sanitizers on the ready.
Call me ignorant, but I still believe that Disneyland is one of the safer places on earth. I wouldn’t send an 8-year old without a parent there nor would I allow my 12-year old to go there alone. But the place is clean, family-friendly, and there are patrons and workers just about everywhere you go. When I was her age, I often spent days during school breaks at Disneyland with my 6th- and 7th-grade friends. It was a right of passage to go there on our own for the first time without a parent. We’d giggle our way to Tom Sawyer’s island, scream our heads off on the Matterhorn, and order whatever we want to eat at the Carnation parlor. It was so freeing, but it also made us behave a little more responsibly, a little more maturely.
I’m afraid I’m going to have to send my 14-year old son Josh to chaperone his sister and all of her girlfriends. If that doesn’t give him a headache, I’m not sure what will. The only way to bribe him into this torturous assignment would be to pay for one of his friends to keep him company, which will then triple my cost of daycare during spring break. Then, of course, the boys will want to go on different rides than the girls, and the group will split into two along the gender borderline, defeating the whole purpose of sending these bodyguards with the group of girls.
I would, of course, make it a rule that everyone stays in the group and that they never go to the bathroom alone. But they’re girls, so that’s pretty much a given.
Yikes — this spring break is getting pricier by the minute. I wonder if my daughter would like to stay home with me and work on some crossword puzzles instead. Okay, maybe we’ll go shopping. In either case, my kids are growing up fast and my days of spending rich times with them are going to end sooner than I can imagine. I should enjoy the precious time I still have to spend lots of quality time with them during this break. Maybe this is what God is trying to tell me through Disney’s new age limit policy.
I just wonder if my kids have the same desire to spend quality time with me. Yeah — not so much!
What do you think about the 14-year age limit for unsupervised children attending Disneyland? Is it fair and right?