I stood in the sticky night air with my head held back, watching fireworks explode and spiral down through the turrets of Cinderella’s castle. Vaught’s chubby legs dangled down from his father’s shoulders as our niece sang along with the soundtrack. I watched the reflection of the lights in Vaught’s eyes.
He waved a glow stick in his hand and then, out of his mouth, came the notes that Ariel sings as Ursula is taking her voice. He started softly – ah ah ah – and then got louder – Ah Ah Ah – and kept going higher and louder – AH AH AH. He waved his glow stick over Neil’s head and said, “I’m spelling it! I’m spelling it Mommy! I am spelling the fireworks!” Because, in that moment, that dollar store glow stick was not a glow stick, but a magic wand. And my three-year-old wasn’t a three-year-old, but a magician who could enchant thousands of people crowded onto Main Street with bursting lights and music with the wave of his hand.
That night was almost two years ago and now, we’re getting ready for our return. After several months of secret phone calls, emails, staying up late into the night to book restaurant reservations and fast passes (Okay, 11. Eleven is late. Yes, it is.), sneaky online shopping for Disney shirts and covert trips to the mailbox to retrieve said sneakily ordered items, we have finally, finally arrived at the day that we to get to rock our five-year-old’s socks off by telling him we are going to Disney World.
He was three during his first trip and has mentioned Disney World or Disney in some way every day of his life since. He has worn his ears to bed and throws his hands up when we drive down hills while he giggles and screams, “We are going down Splash Mountain!”
I know there are tedious parts of a Disney World vacation – the heat, the lines, sweaty people on park buses. But instead of seeing all of those things, I am going to refocus the lens I am looking through. I am going to invest in cool towels and spray fans, get fast passes and instead of watching our fellow weary adults on the buses, watch the sweet, sleepy faces of the kids who met Mickey Mouse for the first time.
For us, Disney isn’t crowds and heat and lines. It isn’t even Mickey or Minnie or a ride. It is my son dancing with Jesse at a parade. It is the thrill of plummeting down Splash Mountain to his cries of, again, again, again! It is flying through the night sky from London to Neverland. It is the cast members who clap and join in when he dances. It is him, mouse ears on, believing, believing, that he is creating the magic that has thousands looking at the night sky waiting for his next spell to be cast.
And if the sweaty people on buses or the heat or the crowds start to seem a little less than magical that’s okay because I am traveling with my own personal magician and his best trick allows me to see the world through his eyes. Any time I feel a little too much adult coming on, he is there with a smile that crinkles his eyes and shows the baby fat under his chin, with a laugh that is pure, breathless joy, a heart that is wild and open and a mind that believes. He is magic and there, in Disney World, so am I and so we all are together. And there’s nothing better. I am off to put on my ears; it’s time for cheers!