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:

the big reveal

I then switched her into her Minnie dress from home, and her transformation was complete:

annie's transformation
So. Much. Glitter.

And of course, James matched (I never got a good photo at the park, but luckily I took one at home)

Jamesie Mouse

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:

trick or treating at Disneyland's Halloween Time

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.

dancing with the Monsters U Fear Leaders

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.”

scare off

She even received a certificate that confirmed her scariness:

scare champion!
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.

dancing with the Monsters U Fear Leaders

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.

Sigh. Parenting.

Annie lasted much longer at Disneyland than we expected, likely fueled by adrenaline and candy. When she crashed, though, she crashed hard.

Mickey and Minnie are tired

She slept until 10am the next day (YAY) and when she woke up she said, “That was the best night of my whole life.”