When COVID quarantine first started, Nora was only 18 months old, and, given concerns about preexisting conditions in our family, we stayed extremely isolated for the next 1.5 years. So basically, Nora saw no one. Ever.
I for one reveled in couch life, fully embracing hibernation like the marmot I’m certain god intended me to be, but I worried about Nora’s lack of socialization and zero exposure to different types of people. Or, you know, ANY people. She started talking to our living room electrical outlet because I guess it sort of has a face.
I became concerned.
It was very important to me that Nora have SOME type of exposure to people who were not in our family (and who were not a wall socket), as well as an understanding that people come in all types of shapes, sizes, colors, ages, abilities, etc– and that we should respect and celebrate those differences. Her babysitter at the time, Sesame Street, was doing an ok job teaching these concepts, but I yearned for her to have some off-screen experiences that would build her social intelligence.
Cue my brilliant idea to order her a slew of multicultural dolls. Nora was in a major dramatic play phase, so I thought it would be great to get her dolls of mixed races, ethnicities, ages, genders, and abilities, thereby normalizing cultural variation for her sheltered, isolated, impressionable soul.
It warmed my heart when her very favorite toy became this basketball-playing young man using a wheelchair.
We had many discussions about disabilities, and I felt proud that she had an understanding of why people might need accommodations or certain tools to help them live their lives comfortably and to the fullest. I felt relieved that once quarantine life was over and we DID go out into the world where Nora would encounter all different types of people, she wouldn’t be confused (or, worse– RUDE) about it. She wouldn’t stare, or point, or doing anything else to make someone feel uncomfortable or marginalized. She would understand and appreciate that we are all unique, and that that is a beautiful thing.
Honestly, I awarded myself alllllll the mom points.
Fast forward a year, when I took Nora into a store for the first time in essentially forever. She was about 3 years old. As we were waiting on a long line at the Walgreen’s pharmacy to pick up my prescription, a kind-looking woman came up behind us. She was in a wheelchair. She smiled at Nora.
Woman: “Hello, little girl, aren’t you cute!”
Nora (screaming, inexplicably, at a rave-level decibel):
“YOU’RE IN A WHEELCHAIR!!”
The entire population of the store– staff, customers, emotional support animals– turned to look at us.
Nora took that as her cue to continue.
“MOM DO YOU SEE THIS LADY IS IN A REAL-LIFE WHEELCHAIR???!!!!”
Me (to the woman, mortified and bead-sweating): “I’m so sorry– it’s just, her favorite doll uses a wheelchair, and I guess she’s really excited to see one in person. We don’t get out much…”
“It’s ok,” the woman replied, while somehow, bless her heart, still smiling at Nora.
I thanked her for her understanding.
“YOU LOVE TO PLAY BASKETBALL BECAUSE YOU’RE IN A WHEELCHAIR!!”
She stopped smiling.
So if anyone is looking for some mom points, I forfeited mine and left them over there at the Westport Walgreens. Said points are waiting to be claimed by a mother whose child would have done literally anything other than what my child did that day. So if that’s you, congrats, go ahead and collect.
Oh and please pick up my prescription from 2021. I ran away and can never return.
Me (inspecting the artwork in Nora’s backpack): “Hey! You crossed out my name on this drawing and wrote Dad’s name instead?! You like him better than me?!”
Nora: “Mommy, no! That would be mean!”
Me: “I know I know I was just teasing.”
Nora: “It’s just that I thought I was gonna make just a messy scribble scrabble picture so I made it for you but then I started working hard and the picture turned out really beautiful so I made it for Dad instead.”
K well that’s actually way more fucked up than the thing I said.
So, I have to say– I never in a million years thought I would be that mom who goes to Disney World and experiences that cliched sense of magic upon entering the park with her kids, but we took Nora and Sophie a couple months ago and as it turns out, guys, I was absofuckinglutely right.
From a young age (because I was crotchety wise beyond my years), I swore up and down that once I became a mom, there would be ONE AND ONLY ONE trip to Disney World with my kids, and it would happen when all my children (back then I thought I’d have 4 or 5, because I was very stupid) reached an age where they would actually remember and appreciate the trip.
This would serve two purposes: 1) not blowing a crapload of money on something that wouldn’t even be long-term remembered, and 2) me not having to do that shit twice.
I know I sound like a complete grouch and definitely in the running for non-mom of the year, but guys I’m an introvert and it’s fucking DISNEY WORLD. It’s chaos and noise and the kind of go-go-go energy that makes me want to find the nearest bunker and bury myself beneath a mountain of ammo and canned goods.
So guess who couldn’t fucking WAIT to go?
At some point when I was not around, which is truly when he does his best work, Eric promised Nora that we could do a “quick, easy trip” (no such thing) to Disney World during our 2-week winter vacation in Florida (my parents have a house in Palm Beach. Because we’re basic). I came home one night to Nora spastic-leaping into my arms, psyched as fuck, yelling, “DADDY SAID WE CAN GO TO DISNEY WORLD!!!!!”
I pulled Eric aside for the “I really wish you had consulted with me first” whisper-lecture, the venom in my words masked by a wide, fake smile and sugar-sweet tone, so as not to tip Nora off to the fact that I was going to indeed murder her father in his sleep that night.
But the damage was done. Disney was promised, Nora was beside herself with glee, and I was surely not going to be the grinch who stole Magic Kingdom. I put Eric in charge of all the logistics and planning, and basically took myself out of the entire equation other than promising I would show up (my basic approach to motherhood in general), and I would do it with a smile on my face, no matter how many extra anti-depressants I had to stash in my Minnie Mouse fanny pack.
I bitched about the trip for the entire 2-3 months leading up to it, to anyone who would listen, but it was always met with the same pat response from my friends: “I know, it’s SO expensive and it’s a LOT, but I’m telling you, when you see the look on Nora’s face, it will all be worth it.”
Actual footage of the look on Nora’s face:
And I know what you’re thinking…ok, that’s one photo, you caught her in a bad moment, it’s a long day at the park, etc etc etc let’s defend that innocent little lavender-bespectacled cutie.
No guys. She was cranky as fuck almost the entire time we were there. Here is more actual footage of her “enjoying” the huge parade that, thanks to our “amazing timing, Nora!” started as soon as we entered the park. Literally all her favorite characters up close and in one place.
And that, my friends, is the look of someone who has never been more giddily excited to see anything EVER. But next to Eric is a freaked-out, totally overwhelmed little girl who doesn’t understand what the hell is happening, and wants to cry tears of confusion and overstimulation (which, don’t worry, she promptly did! I harnessed my own tears into a silent, internal soul-weeping, though, because maturity.)
No amount of parental hyping could sway her mood. We tried ice cream (worked for the entire 2 minutes she spent eating it, then immediately backfired in both her mood and pants), we tried stickers (mayhem when they lost their stick– thanks for nothing, Science), we tried reminding her how fortunate she was to live this life she gets to live (weird she wasn’t capable of that perspective, which I gained at approximately age 32).
Nothing worked. This kid was NOT having it.
At some point we came up with the brilliant idea of having her put on her Elsa costume, certain that a little princess flair would cause the tides of rage to turn.
No. But at least we now know what Elsa would look like in a mug shot, still tightly clutching her murder weapon.
I want to say things perked up in time for a festive dinner in the park, but here we are at 4:45pm “happy hour…”
The good news is that when we got to our hotel room, and encountered the awesome bunk beds that Nora specifically INSISTED we pay extra for, she was too scared to sleep in them and instead shared the king bed with Eric, while Sophie and I slept on the couch.
Anyway listen, guys, this post isn’t meant to be an “I told you so” to Eric (I already did that to his face. Repeatedly). I don’t actually relish being right in this situation. I am in fact very fortunate to be married to a man who is generally optimistic, is a total doer, and is ordered to happy to put in the planning and logistical work to make awesome experiences for our kids. If not for him, we’d end up doing way too much of my preferred activities (sitting; laying).
And at the end of the day, I can only look back and smile. I’m not sure we made the happiest memories, but Disney World turned out to be the location of Nora and Sophie’s first-ever communal nap, which is arguably its own kind of magic.
Me: “No no. Just Sophie. I couldn’t get on board with the name Sophia. To me, Sophie is a name for a sweet, happy little baby, while Sophia reminds me of the Golden Girl’s character, who was a total grouch and always had this judgy, fuck-off look on her face like–”
I know I made it seem in my last post like Sophie is getting the classic second-born shaft, but I am here to reassure you that we have made every effort to treat her and Nora equally. Eric and I are both second-borns, so we understand the importance of making the second child feel just as important as the first.
For example, when we did a newborn photo shoot for Nora, people commented that we wouldn’t do the same for the next kid, but JOKE’S ON YOU GUYS.