Jessie, my 8-year-old daughter, and I are standing in line outside Peter Pan’s Flight, a popular ride at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Luckily, we are in the FastPass line, which allows us to get into the shade and take flight much quicker than the visitors in the Stand-By line. As I ponder the joys of the FastPass, I wonder, wouldn’t it be great if parents could reach into their wallets and pull out a pass to make every situation in life easier?
I could have used a FastPass numerous times since Jessie’s birth. I would have used one to speed up the process when my wife, Mattie, and I were potty-training her. When Jessie whined and refused to bite anything for days because she wanted to keep her front baby tooth forever, a FastPass would have enabled us to skip the crying and give it one quick yank. The FastPass would be ideal to get Jessie to bed quickly, although she’d always choose the slower Stand-By line.
I can also think of other useful kinds of passes. I’d love to have a RedoPass for all the times I do stupid things. Some are minor do-overs, like the time I stuck my finger into Jessie’s diaper to determine if she had done a “number 2.” I’d have needed another pass when I was a few seconds late on getting a clean diaper onto Jessie. More importantly, I’d like to have a RedoPass for the times I lose patience and could better handle the responsibilities of parenthood.
Then there’s the Take-A-Pass, which I’m confident I’d abuse. I’d use this pass to skip out on making supper when I’m tired. The Take-A-Pass could also be used when my creative daughter wants me to play games in which she invents the rules on the fly. In addition, I can only dress Barbie, brush her hair, and add accessories for so long before I’m ready to Take-A-Pass.
I guess I could pull out a SleepPass instead. On second thought, I better save those for times of great exhaustion, when I lose focus and do things like eat Jessie’s Flintstones vitamin (pretty tasty) instead of mine, mix Jessie’s oatmeal but forget to microwave it before serving, or make a pot of tea without tea bags.
If I could choose only one kind of pass, though, it would be the SlowPass, because Jessie is growing up so quickly. As we stood in one of the lines at Disney, I noticed the top of her head already reaches Mattie’s nose. I don’t know how Jessie could be a third-grader when (it seems like) I just took her to pre-K last week.
I’d also use a SlowPass when Jessie and I share desserts; I’d like to eat some of those toppings, too. I’d definitely hand her a SlowPass before getting on the Teacups ride, as excessive spinning turns me white. (If I ever throw up on the Teacups, I’ll need a Manly-ManPass to regain my pride, but that’s a different column.)
Most importantly, I’d use many SlowPasses for Jessie to take her time when it comes to important future decisions like selecting friends, choosing a college and career, and moving away. I’ll need a FastPass for exceeding the speed limit while going to visit her if she moves very far.
Parents face both joyous and frustrating times in rearing their children. Like lines at Disney, some move quickly, others not fast enough. Unfortunately, we can’t whip out a SlowPass to make happy times last longer or a FastPass to speed us through challenging situations. Instead, we do our best to read the signs and try to choose the right places to stand for the time and circumstances.
On our trip, Jessie proudly earned her Mickey Mouse Official Speedway License as she drove a race car around the track with Mattie as her passenger. Although Mattie reported that “her driving was terrible. She veered all over the place.” In another eight years or so, when Jessie wants to get her real driver’s license, the Take-A-Pass will seem like a good option. However, I’ll likely choose the SlowPass as I sit beside my teenage daughter, encouraging her to drive a few miles slower than the speed limit.
In the meantime, I’m placing a large order for SleepPasses. I have a feeling I’m going to need a big supply.
Until next month, remember to cherish the moments.
Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year-long career in banking, accounting, and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad, and writer. Follow him at www.faceb