A very nice perk of freelancing for a Disney-owned property (Babble.com, in my case) is getting invited to Disneyland for special events. Our proximity to so many amazing things is why I will never take Southern California for granted. Disneyland kicked off their annual Halloween Party this past weekend, and we surprised Annabel (and James, but he was ambivalent) and took her.
Upon arriving at the happiest place on earth, she found out that not only was the park celebrating Halloween, but we’d also arranged for her to have a “makeover” – think hair salon for little kids, complete with every tiny thing you could ever possibly buy to transform your kid into a rock star, covered in a thick layer of glitter. We opted for the Halloween-themed makeover. The stylists were so friendly and they didn’t let Annie look in the mirror until it was all done, and her reaction was great:
I then switched her into her Minnie dress from home, and her transformation was complete:
And of course, James matched (I never got a good photo at the park, but luckily I took one at home)
When you enter the park you’re given a trick-or-treat bag, and there are trick-or-treating stations set up everywhere. There’s just tons and tons of candy, as if Disneyland wasn’t already awesome enough. I thought Annie would be all over that, and she definitely was:
Surprisingly, there was something Annie loved even more than getting candy, and that was dancing. There was a Monsters University dance party that we stumbled across, and Annie honestly could have spent the entire evening there.
She loved dancing with the cheerleaders (excuse me, fearleaders) so much that she was invited to go on stage and participate in their “scare off.”
She even received a certificate that confirmed her scariness:
If you really want to see scary, come by my house at bedtime.
After the scare competition was over, I mistakenly thought Annie would be ready to go get candy or enjoy a ride, but nope. She wanted to dance her face off.
She worked her way around the dance floor, making a beeline for every single girl between the ages of five and seven. I could see her talking to each girl (“My name is Annabel, do you want to be friends?”), and I’d hold my breath as I waited for them to respond. Most of them honestly couldn’t hear her over the loud music, so Annie would just grab their hands or hug them in an attempt to get them to play with her. The majority of the girls reacted exactly the way you’d expect six-year-olds to react to a random three-year-old grabbing at them.
I kept trying to get Annie to come dance with me, but she was not having it. She wanted to hang out with the big girls (my friends, Mama!), and wanted as little to do with her parents as the big girls wanted to do with her. Who could blame them? She’s a three-year-old stranger at Disneyland. But it was so hard to watch her get rejected repeatedly. It was impossible to not think about Madeline, who would be almost six. Annie is so drawn to girls that age. It hurts.
Annabel didn’t seem phased by any of it, but I am terrified of the day she is. Normally I’m a firm believer in kids needing to experience the good AND bad aspects in life, but so far that’s really only needed to apply to knee scrapes and time-outs. This was the first time I really wanted to scoop her up and prevent her feelings from being hurt. She just wants friends, and someday someone will not want her friendship and it’s going to be a punch in the gut. I don’t want her to feel that, even though I know she has to.
Conversely, she will likely reject someone else’s friendship, so I need to make sure she is always kind and thoughtful.
Annie lasted much longer at Disneyland than we expected, likely fueled by adrenaline and candy. When she crashed, though, she crashed hard.
She slept until 10am the next day (YAY) and when she woke up she said, “That was the best night of my whole life.”
…and stickers at gymnastics. I’m still not over that.
Glad to see that Annie had such a brilliant night. Her expression at seeing her hair made me cry, and the smile in her eyes (HUGE) in the first photo on the dance floor was a really touching way to start my day. Love her.
And I miss Maddie too.
Such great pictures that really did echo Annie’s words “That was the best night of my whole life.” I wish, more than anything, that her beautiful, big sister, Maddie was here to be her best friend forever,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Such cute pics! I don’t think I’ve ever been as happy in my life as Annie was when she got her certificate. So cute!
I wish maddie was here for her too
Random question- but were the adults in costume too? We are going to this in DisneyWorld in 3 weeks, and while the kids all have their costumes ready to go, we adults aren’t ready!
YES! The adults’ costumes were amazing – better than the kids!
FWIW – I don’t think you can wear Disney-themed costumes that are sooooo good that you look like a Disney employee. I remember reading about an adult who dressed like a Princess getting told to leave the park because they don’t want to have the risk of children going up to some random stranger dressed as a princess.
Annie and James looked amazing!! That feeling of your child’s first heartbreak…well, any and all heartbreaks…they really do suck, no sugarcoating it. As you so wisely are able to foresee, Annie will do her share of breaking hearts, as well. I’m sure you and Mike will do your usual awesome job of parenting and explaining to your kids about feelings…compassion and empathy are tough ones. Annie and James have wonderful examples though…keep doing what you’re doing.
You are such an amazing mom. It is hard sometimes. When I overheard a boy at school whisper loudly to another boy, “Let’s not play with him!” (About my son, who desperately wanted to play with them), before running off and leaving my kiddo with big tears streaming down his face, my heart shattered. It is tough. My only advice is that we love them so much that they can take it and so they can shake it off, which they do. Kids are much more resilient than we give them credit for.
Aw! That looked awesome!! Don’t worry too much til you get there. Enjoy the ride….you both are doing a fantabulous job!
I love how big Annie’s smile is in most of these pictures! What great memories you guys are making for her.
i can’t get over Jamesie in the mickey costume…OMG!!
Parenthood is so hard, especially when our kids feeling are hurt…but it makes them stronger. And they learn to be nice to other people too.
James and Annie’s costumes… OMG!!! LOVE, LOVE Annie’s hair!!! Great pictures!!!
What adorable pictures!!!
Jay - Dude of the House says:
We were there, too. Couldn’t believe both of our boys stayed up until 11pm — a new record. Thankfully they were both asleep before we got on the freeway to come home.
Now I need to go find those trick or treat bags and have a mini Twix for breakfast…
I may have dug into Annie’s candy stash more than once since Friday!
Was just thinking, that even though you see and anticipate heartbreak when Annie is rejected by friends in the future, there’s something also to celebrate in how she is right now–blissfully unselfaware, open, giving, expecting the best in everyone. As you feel the anxiety for her, also feel that really beautiful strength she’s showing. And then you can remind her of it, that she’ll always have that self-confidence and trust in others inside of her, when she gets older and the world outside teaches her to question it.
Her face when she first saw her make over? I teared up and just felt her joy through that picture. It’s so stunning. She is such a social butterfly and while you’re afraid she will get her feelings hurt I see Annie with lots and lots of friends. She’s fun, she loves to dress up and use her imagination, and she’s a sweetheart. Sure, those older than her won’t want her for a friend until high school or college, but I’m positive she will have plenty of friends her own age.
James made an adorable mini – Mickey.
“That was the best night of my whole life.”
I think that sums it up completely!!
I am so impressed that Annie will go up to older girls and introduce herself and ask them to play. My two would just never (too shy), although my older one would play with anybody who asked. What spunk Annie has! I can only think that will serve her well in life.
The kids look so adorable. Annie’s personality is the best. I had to comment because my 3-year-old daughter did the exact same thing at a Disney World dance party a few weeks ago – there was a group of older girls dressed as My Little Ponies and she REALLY wanted to be friends with them. She didn’t really care, either, just dance with them as they ignored her. Age 3 is kind of the best. I’m glad Annie had a great time, anyway!
jill (mrschaos) says:
Good heavens, that’s adorable. Even the heartbreaking parts. She doesn’t know to be sad by it, though. Not yet. It’s just so hard for the mamas.