Hey, Remember That Time We…

So then…we wake the kids by bellowing, “Dizzz-neee-laaaaaaand!”

8:00 am

Remember 180 8 am

They pop right out of bed, super excited to return to their favorite place. Chloe, age 5, and Tucker, age 8, get dressed and hustle downstairs for breakfast.

We live in LA, so it’s only 1.5 hours to drive to Anaheim to Disneyland. We pack up the minivan, ensuring our backpack contains all 832 essentials for surviving a long day at the park – and off we go!

9:00 am

Remember 900 new black new 180 180

We’re zipping along the 101 Freeway.

Zip! Zip! Zip!
Zap! Zaaaap. Zaaaaaap.
Zerp.
STOP.

What the hell?

We were careening down this freeway, and now we’ve STOPPED DEAD, smack dab in the middle of a 6-lane gridlock, with cars stretching as far as the eye can see.

How did this happen so fast? It’s like someone sent a mass group text to every driver in California with an urgent message: “Hop in car! Rush to 101 Freeway! Surround the Perdu Family Vehicle. Ensure no escape!”

And BAM!
EVERYBODY WHO HAS EVER LIVED IN CALIFORNIA IS NOW ON THE FREEWAY WITH US!

David and I slowly turn our heads to look at each other.

His eyes say: “Let’s cut our losses, go home, and watch football.”

My eyes say, “Yes! Abort! Abort the mission! Turn around and go home!”

Then we turn to look at Tucker and Chloe in the back seat happily chatting about which Disneyland rides they’re most excited about riding.

We slowly turn back to look at each other.

Now my eyes say beseechingly, “We must go! Look how excited they are!”

His eyes say, “Football.”

“No, David, we have to keep going,” I say out loud. “It’s just a little traffic! It’ll be fine.”

9:30 am

Remember 180 930 am

He agrees – but it’s quickly evident that the 1.5 hour trip’s going to be a 3 hour trip.

Unspoken tensions are running high – but with each mile, it seems crazy to turn back – so we push valiantly onward.

We hit the parking lot, which is bulging with cars. Honestly, did EVERYONE decide to go to Disneyland today?

12:30 pm

Remember 180 1230 blue clock

After an excruciating hunt for a parking spot, we finally disembark the car to find the shuttle to take us to the park.

We wait an hour for the shuttle.

Let’s say that again just so we fully appreciate the agony of standing there after a long car ride:

We wait an hour for the shuttle.

Finally! We hop aboard and head to the entrance.

I’m overly cheerful to compensate for the flagging spirits of my crew. Grinning broadly, I say, “Won’t this be fun!? We had a little bit of a late start, but now we’re here and we’re gonna have a blast!”

1:30 pm

Remember 180 130 pm

The shuttle drops us off at the entrance, which is obscured by engorged lines of people snaking out in all directions.
Just as we approach, the intercom announces, “I’m sorry, folks, Disneyland is full. No more entries today.”

Full?

FULL?

What do you mean Disneyland is FULL?

We just spent 4 hours to get here! And what about all the people who FLEW to get here? And all the people who saved for months for this trip to pay for your stupid crappy $6 hot dogs and $16 Mickey hats! How dare you shutter your doors!? What about the children? What…about…sob…the childrennnnnn?

(I’m in full meltdown mode — but my kids are actually taking the disappointment pretty well. David is another matter altogether. I can actually see him squeezing his eyes shut and concentrating fiercely — trying desperately to time travel back to that point on the freeway when we could’ve abandoned the mission and returned home.)

“I’m hungry,” says Chloe.

“Me too,” says Tucker.

I’m starving.

David and I look to the left. Literally thousands of dejected people are leaving the park entrance to line up for the shuttles.

We look to the right. Thousands more are walking to the souvenir shops and restaurants just outside Disneyland.

We look at the backpack. Its snacks were depleted long ago on our long-ass car ride.

We look at the children. They appear edible.

That will solve everything. I will eat my children.

They will satisfy my hunger and I won’t have to deal with their disappointment about missing Disneyland.

I’m just about to explain my plan to David when he points toward the shops and restaurants.

“It’ll take us hours to get back to our car and find someplace to eat, so we might as well line up over here,” he says.

We reluctantly join the huddled masses, yearning to be fed – shuffling from restaurant to restaurant looking for a line that looks to be less than a 2-hour wait.

3:30 pm

Remember 330 brown

Out of desperation, we finally settle on a pizza place which is so packed we have to eat our cold cheese slices standing up between hordes of other families standing up, eating their cold cheese slices.

All the adults look a bit dazed. Like, “How did this happen?” We all expected a spectacular day at the Magic Kingdom — and now we’re standing in line for almost 2 hours just to get a slice of crappy pizza.

Then we trudge back to the shuttle line, wait an hour and a half, walk a million miles to our car, then drive with 4 billion people on the freeway through rush hour traffic, and finally reach home where we collapse – as exhausted as though we’d just climbed the Himalayas.

9:00 pm

Remenber 180 900 green new

Our roundtrip is 12 agonizing hours.

We promise the kids we’ll return to Disneyland soon – and we do – and it’s wonderful and glorious and all the things it’s supposed to be.

As for today? Well, today is the day we refer to as:

“Hey, remember that time we drove 12 hours for pizza? Ah. Good times. Good times.”

— Darcy Perdu

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(Do you have an example of a “Hey, remember that time we…” experience? Something fun that ended up NOT so fun?  Ever show up someplace that was “full” or “closed?”)

Ah, good times (NOT!) - hilarious true tale of a trip gone awry #funny #Disney

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Damn You, Disney!

Funny - Chloe in Panic
So then…my daughter Chloe clutches her tummy, writhes about in bed, and complains about a stomach ache AGAIN.

1st Diagnosis:
This is probably her wily way of prolonging snuggle time. She’s 7 and loves to chatter and giggle as we lay in her bed before bedtime, so a tummy ache makes me stay longer with her.

It’s not so much a PAINFUL ache – it’s more of an ANNOYING ache – and I’m usually able to distract her or get her to sleep when they occur.

But this has been going on for a long time, so I take her to the pediatrician just to check it out.

Lots of questions, poking, prodding — which leads to:

2nd Diagnosis:
Perhaps she’s not moving her bowels frequently enough?
Hello, Metamucil and fiber-rich food.
But the intermittent stomach aches continue, so then the doctor suggests:

3rd Diagnosis:
Perhaps she’s lactose-intolerant?
Goodbye milk, cheese, and ice cream.
Hello tears. (From her AND me, because dammit, it’s hard to scarf down a Baskin-Robbins sundae when your lactose-intolerant kid is jabbing you in the ankles with a spoon.)
So we ALL forgo dairy.
And while there seems to be a reduction in frequency, the stomach aches continue.

So now friends suggest a therapist.
“For ME?” I ask hopefully.
“No, for HER, you knucklehead!” they respond. “Maybe she’s stressed out, so her tummy hurts.”
“What does a 7-year-old have to be stressed about?” I wonder.
But I gently and casually talk to Chloe about school, friends, family, activities, etc to see if there’s any anxiety in a particular area. Nope, all’s clear. Very happy, cheerful little girl.

But she still complains about occasional stomach aches, so I take her to a Gastroenterologist.
Oh yes I do.
Let’s get a specialist up in here!
My poor baby’s suffering. Let’s fix this now!
Which leads to:

4th Diagnosis:
Perhaps she has reflux
or ulcers
or diverticulitis
or ulcerative colitis
or celiac disease.

“Perhaps she should stop eating gluten,” the Gastroenterologist says.
“What has gluten in it?” I ask.

Turns out: Everything.

EVERYTHING has gluten in it!
Wait, purists, let me rephrase that.
EVERYTHING WORTH EATING has gluten in it!

So now we begin the painstaking process of figuring out what this poor kid can eat.

And still the frikkity-frik stomach aches pop up every few days.

I admit defeat.

I am baffled.
Befuddled.
Bewildered.

But she’s a trooper, this Chloe. We try to avoid lactose and gluten, but they creep back in. We try to keep stress to a minimum. The aches begin to dissipate.

Then, other things take center stage – other things claim our focus as life goes on.

Finally one night, I’m lying on Chloe’s bed while she’s getting ready in the adjoining bathroom and I realize:

“Omigosh! Do you realize it has been MONTHS since you’ve had a stomach ache? Like, literally MONTHS and MONTHS!”

“Yeah,” she says nonchalantly. “They stopped a long time ago. I figured out what it was.”

She says this dismissively like it’s no big deal.

I sit up abruptly. “WHAT!? You know WHY you had all those stomach aches? WHAT WAS IT?

She pokes her head out of the bathroom. “I was allergic to something in my Disney Princess toothpaste. So if I swallowed some, it made my tummy hurt. As soon as I switched to Crest, the stomach aches stopped.”

OH.MY.GOD.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Pediatricians, Metamucil, lactose, gluten, stress, gastroenterologist, and celiac disease?

And the WHOLE TIME it was the FRIKKITY-FRIK DISNEY PRINCESS TOOTHPASTE?

AND she didn’t even tell me when she found out!  She didn’t put me out of my medical-mystery misery!

It’s almost enough to make me write a strongly-worded letter to the Disney company and include my receipts for all the doctor visits, soy milk, and chalk-tasting gluten-free cookies we suffered through.

But oh, Bella, Ariel, and Cinderella, I can’t hold it against you.

You probably don’t know your toothpaste contains Sodium Fluoride, Sorbitol, Hydrated Silica, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Trisodium Phosphate, Cellulose Gum, Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Saccharin, Carbomer, Red 28.

And you probably don’t know the Directions on the product that you use in YOUR MOUTH say: “Do not swallow.” And if too much is swallowed, “get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.” 

Really, call the Poison Control Center? On a toothpaste for KIDS?

Oh, Disney.

— Darcy Perdu

Original Illustration for So Then Stories by Shelly Draven

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(Of course we laugh about this now — can you relate?  Have any of YOUR mysteries been solved by something equally ridiculous? Any “Damn you, Disney” moments to share? Let me know in the Comments Section!)
Funny - Damn You, Disney