Mickey Mouse, Trains, and My Mini Me

I didn’t tell my 4-year-old much about what we were doing on Wednesday, just that it was special and he didn’t have to go to preschool.

He told his brother several times about how he was going on an adventure with Mommy while my oldest was going to kindergarten. Not one to be one-upped, the 5-year-old replied, “Yeah, well I get to learn more.”

On our long drive (because I went the wrong way on one of the three freeways) to Travel Town I talked to my son about how we were invited to hang out with Mickey Mouse and see his new show about trains. We’ll even get to ride on a train, I said. He looked animated and excited.

That was until we got there and we actually saw Mickey Mouse, a gaggle of PR people, video cameras, and a bunch of preschoolers and their moms. He grabbed onto my pant leg and wouldn’t let go.

One of the PR people asked the kids if they wanted to run to Mickey, who had just stepped off of an antique train. My son looked at me like I’d just asked him to eat a vegetable and shook his head, “Noooo,” he said.

Mickey led us to an area with a small stage lined with toys that they were giving to Toys for Tots. The music started and Mickey beckoned us to dance – mom’s and kids.

You’ve got to be kidding me? I thought. I looked down at my son and thought I should at least try to get him to participate. I asked him if he would dance with me and he buried his head in my leg. We sat down outside of the group.

I’m not a stage mom, but I secretly hoped he’d be caught on film, spotted by an agent and asked to appear in one movie that would pay for college or at least his last year of preschool.

But he’s just like me. He has my hair, my asthma, and my reticence. Why would I expect him to get up and dance in front of a group of people he didn’t know (with cameras rolling) when there’s no way in hell I would do that myself. I’m a sit-in-the-back-of-the-class, don’t-talk-unless-I’m-called-upon kind of person and I think my little guy is the same way.

I’ve struggled between being myself and being the kind of parent I feel I should be. The kind who volunteers for everything and chats up other moms when really all I want to do is put on my headphones and listen to NPR podcasts.

I don’t want to push him into being someone he’s not, but I do want him to try new things.

After dancing, storytime, and playing with toy trains the kids went to watch Mickey Mouse Club House Choo Choo Express. My son loved it. After I coerced him into having his picture taken with Mickey (and me) it was time to go.

Just when I was starting to feel really bad about taking him out of preschool to hang on to my leg and watch T.V., he said, “That was so much fun!!!”

Yes, he’s definitely my son. You may not have known it by looking at him, but he had just as good of a time as the kids dancing in the front row. He just had it from 10 feet away.