My dad likes to recount the time we took a family vacation to Disneyland when my brother was 13, and I was 8.
After shelling out a small fortune for unlimited passes (not to mention roundtrip airline tickets to California), my parents dropped us off at the park and returned to our hotel to enjoy a day of not having to go to the park.
Hot and tired after merely an hour, my brother and I agreed that our time would be better spent swimming in the hotel pool, so we caught a shuttle bus back to the Travelodge.
Upon our unexpected return, we were greeted by a dark room and two hostile parents who blamed their disheveled appearance on being interrupted during what they claimed was a “mid-morning nap.”
After the whole Bored-at-Disney thing, my dad swore he’d never take us anywhere again outside of the Sunset Inn, a motor lodge with an indoor swimming pool, located 10 miles from our house.
I give him credit for making good on his promise.
From Hawaii to Italy, my parents went on to travel the world.
Not that I blame them.
I have since traveled to Disney with my kids.
More than once.
It’s like doing time in the clink, except not as fun and no one gets parole.
The first time we visited our daughters were 7 and 5.
Aside from my having the flu, a total family meltdown over what brand of orange juice the hotel restaurant served, and record-breaking attendance during a record-breaking heat wave, it was a good time.
I can still recall being in a fever dream with 37,000 other sweaty people, Kleenex stuffed up each nostril, praying for Tinkerbell to cue the fireworks so I could take the shuttle full of BO and crying children back to the hotel and die in peace.
Or, at the very least, in an air-conditioned room.
Blessed with daughters terrified by automatic flushing toilets, I also recall crouching on the floor of every bathroom stall in Disneyworld, covering the sensor with my hand, because if it unexpectedly flushed while either one of them was using it, the result was mass hysteria.
In the aftermath there was almost always a crying fit and pleas to go home, to which my husband would respond by saying that we’d paid for the week and I would just have to stick it out.
I read somewhere that women are biologically programmed to forget the suffering and trauma associated with childbirth, so they’ll be willing to reproduce more than once.
Under the same principle, I signed up for another Disney trip the following year.
With the orange juice crisis resolved (but not toilet flushing), things were nominally better, apart from another health issue.
We were hemorrhaging money.
A princess breakfast cost more than the mortgage on our house, requiring emergency first aid from Visa so I could watch my daughters hug Snow White and my husband pretend that he wasn’t watching Jasmine sashay around in a harem costume.
And with glittery gift shops located at the end of each attraction, exiting Space Mountain without buying a snow globe was like negotiating a hostage release with miniature terrorists strung out on adrenaline and Mickey Mouse ice cream bars.
Then there were the spray fans.
Considering that Disney is hotter than camping on the sun, the portable water misters for sale on every corner were nothing short of salvation.
But at $35 a pop, it came down to a choice between temporary relief from the heat or food for the rest of the trip.
We bought the spray bottle.
This immediately prompted a hockey brawl between our kids, barely capable of sharing the same oxygen, let alone a misting fan.
With the Great Spray Bottle Feud underway and no Xanax vending machine nearby, I purchased a second one, which ultimately proved to be the spray-bottle-that-broke-the-husband’s-back.
Soon he and I were also engaged in a full-blown domestic dispute, complete with finger pointing on whose fault it was for having raised children who couldn’t appreciate the extreme sacrifices their parents made just to provide them with the opportunity to throw up on the Dumbo ride.
Fortunately, we managed to patch things up before the Main Street Electrical Parade and shortly after we returned home, we planned our next vacation.
It was to the motor lodge, located 10 miles from our house.