Friday, September 08, 2006

Stalking Cinderella

Having toddlers around means sometimes doing things you would never otherwise do. I occasionally swing on swings, read board books and I’ve been known to attend imaginary tea parties. I know the names of all the Thomas trains and can sing at least a dozen Laurie Berkner songs by heart. Having young children not only gives you the opportunity to do these things, it actually gives you license to relive a bit of your childhood. To that end, my husband and I recently found ourselves on the RER line headed towards Euro Disney. It wasn’t that we had always dreamed of going, nor that our children had been begging for it. It more seemed like one of those experiences that would bring out the child in each of us.

Arriving at the gates was fully reminiscent of the gates at Disney parks in the U.S. The magic of Disney seemed to emanate from each and every corner and I found myself becoming almost giddy as we made our way inside. We did all the toddler-friendly activities we could find— ate lunch at Buzz Lightyear’s Pizza Planet, toured “It’s a Small World,” met Tigger and Baloo and tried removing the sword from Excalibur’s stone. The thing that was really going to leave an impression on me, however, was meeting Cinderella— or, more to the point— almost not meeting Cinderella.

When we arrived in France, my 2-year-old daughter, Kate, had no interest in anything feminine. It remained that way until the day she happened to see the movie Cinderella— the music, the animals, the dresses, she was fascinated with it all. I went from having the perfect little tomboy to a pretty, pretty princess practically overnight— all due to the power of Cinderella.

The line to meet Cinderella was an hour long, which is a lifetime in toddler speak. I sat there weighing the drawback of spending an entire hour trying to keep Kate in line against the joy of making her dream come true. I didn’t want to be one of those moms who torture her children for a “fun experience” but I convinced myself this was different. I decided to go for it.

About half way through our wait, I noticed some activity up ahead and realized the princesses were trading out. Suddenly an hour waiting to meet Cinderella became an hour to meet Jasmine. In no time at all my Mickey Mouse ears came off and I became a calculating opportunist focused exclusively on making sure my daughter (who certainly won’t remember this watershed event) met Cinderella. I was one of those moms, after all. In fact, I probably bore a strong resemblance to some of the cheerleader moms that appear on the evening news, but I digress. With Kate under my arm and my camera in hand, I ran for it.

Thankfully there was a crowd gathering around Cinderella, so she wasn’t moving too quickly. I knew that getting in the midst of the crowd would get me nowhere fast, so I ran around the crowd and put myself directly in her path. She noticed us (how could she not?) and gave us a half smile while explaining that she could not stop. I snapped a couple pictures as we walked, but more importantly, Kate got to meet her.

In the end, Kate was thrilled to meet her, though it probably wasn’t worth the guerilla tactics used to get us there. As for me, well my Mickey Mouse ears are now firmly back in place and I can cross meeting Cinderella off my “to do” list. Perhaps I should just replace it with stalking her, though. At least that would be accurate.