Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Your Boy/Girl Twins Have Just Turned Five. What Are You Gonna Do Now?

If you've made it through five years of late-blooming motherhood with twins, here's what you're going to do:

You're going to Disneyland.

Accuse me of being unoriginal. Unimaginative. An American parenting cliche. A victim of societal pressure. A rube taken in by the massive Disney marketing machine. A mom in for a long, long day that will no doubt include some whining, a tantrum or two, and overpriced snacks.

You're right.

I'm going anyway. Full disclosure: I'm not going today, on their actual birthday, because a number of factors (including dad's work schedule) mean Saturday is the big day, with more crowds; it can't be helped. But nevertheless, I'm going, with dad along to kid wrangle. I'm going because I went to Disneyland with my parents as a kid, and I loved it.
 I'm sure there was whining, I'm sure there were tantrums. But I don't remember any of that. I remember IT'S A SMALL WORLD, I remember the castle (though I'm always confused -- is it Sleeping Beauty's or Cinderella's? One's here in California, the other in Florida). I remember the Jungle Cruise. I remember the Enchanted Tiki Room. I remember the train ride. And I remember just walking down Main Street. It's the most contrived, artificial, fake street in the U.S. But I loved it.

So I guess we're going to make my kids some mouse memories.

But we're also going to mark a milestone that this day represents. Late Blooming Dad and I have survived five years of parenting twins, and we have -- another cliche, I know, but it's true -- the gray hair to show for it. We began this enterprise at a later age than most parents -- me, 41 at the time they made their debut, dad a pup of 39. We had less energy and more frequent need of recharging our batteries than our younger parenting peers. We had, perhaps, more life wisdom, but not necessarily the kind of experience that makes one an experienced parent. And we may even have had less patience than when we were younger. Yet here we are, with two very happy, reasonably well-adjusted-when-not-being-impossible preschoolers who'll be heading off to kindergarten in the fall.

Sometimes I think about a chance encounter with an older couple -- late fifties, early sixties? -- we met on our honeymoon. We were sitting on a lovely terrace on the grounds of a beautiful hotel overlooking Positano, on Italy's Amalfi coast, having a late-afternoon drink. The couple told us they'd been here once before, on their honeymoon. Now, all their kids had graduated high school and the last one would be off to college in the fall. So they were back, for the first time since then. "Enjoy it now," they told us. "You may not be back till your kids have graduated."

This memory makes me want to do a couple of things. One, drop everything and get on a plane for Italy, because we deserve it after getting through five years with twins. Two, make damn sure we do get back there when our kids graduate, because that couple was probably right: odds are, with all of life's obligations and constraints on money and vacation time, we probably won't get back there until the kids graduate. Positano is, perhaps, our Magic Kingdom ... sparkling off in the distance, but with luck, health, and love, we'll get there again some day.

So for now, Disneyland with the Adorables will have to suffice, to mark not just their big milestone, but ours. It may not be getting them through college yet, but it feels like a big deal to two weary but grateful late-blooming parents.


Unknown said...

We did the same thing last month and here's what you need to know about Disneyland...those people sure know how to entertain kids. We all had a blast. We also slept over one night at the Disney Grand and it made the trip that much more special. Enjoy!

Jennifer said...

Have fun!
I'm hoping for the new Harry Potter theme park for Julia's next...

Unknown said...

I love Disneyland! I may even be taking a trip there this spring...without my twins! Have fun.

Alex said...

It seems impossible that the kids are already five! Congratulations to all of you... and have a great time at Disneyland.

Karen said...

Here's to you and Mike...may you enjoy your day at Disneyland with your beautiful children. May you remember to breathe slowly and deeply through the anticipated trials of a day at Disneyland. May you take lots of photos so that those of us with older children can live vicariously through the 5 year old phase again. And finally, a happy birthday to those beautiful beings.

Love you!


William V. Madison said...

Don't apologize for Disneyland! For one thing, entire generations of hardworking, thoughtful, exploited men and women have struggled to ensure that the park is an entertaining experience to everybody. To resist is to insult them.

Moreover, your kids are nuts about Disney movies. This is acceptable.

Moreover, you live so close to the park that not to go there would mean exposing your children to taunting and humiliation on the playground.

You did the right thing. Positano can wait.