Sunday, February 17, 2008


Unfortunately, Bobby had to work today, so Emma and I had a girls day. I'd been thinking about Disneyland lately - we haven't been in awhile and I was missing it - and I knew Emma is always down.

She has a solid cough right now though (listening to her I can tell it's in her lungs, not her throat), so this morning I said that if the sun came out and it warmed up a bit that we should go to Disneyland, but if it stayed gloomy and cool we should stay in. We cleaned up in the event the sun would come out, and we were not disappointed.

As soon as we got there, Emma was drawn to a cart selling Disney themed pins. This has become standard with her - "Can we get something?" or "I want to get something for my sister/grandma...." If we tell her to stop asking for things, she uses a more passive agressive method: "I wish I had one of these." My favorite is when she says she's "always wanted" something she's just seen for the first time. She's becoming quite the consumer, and Bobby and I have discussed at length how we might go about teaching her how to recognize and resist all the marketing.

So today I gave it a shot: "Emma, I'll make you a deal - at the end of our trip, I'll give you $10. You can buy whatever you want with that $10, but I don't want you to make a purchase until right before we leave, so we can look whenever you want, but I want to make sure that is what you want to spend your $10 on."
"What if there is leftover?"
"You can keep the change."
"Can I buy two things?"
"If you can buy two things with $10, then yes, it is your money, but that is all you get."

Her face lit up with excitement - she clearly didn't recognize how little $10 is in a place like Disneyland. But she didn't ask to buy a single thing the rest of the day.

I hadn't realized it was a holiday weekend, so we were a little surprised to see some pretty long lines for Big Thunder Mountain and Pirates of the Carribean. Being D-land regulars we skipped the lines and checked out Tom Sawyer's Island, which it appears has been renamed "Pirates Lair." Tom Sawyer's Island was never one of my favorites growing up, but even though I am a fan of the Pirates ride and movies, I was a little saddened to see that the commercialization of Pirates has consumed this old park standard. They had added a few more "pirate" stuff, but other than that the island seemed the same.

The lines remained long, so we wandered over to Star Tours. When I was Emma's age, this was my favorite ride. In fact, I think it was my first favorite ride. As I sat there today I was thinking about how my perception is altered by the fact that Disneyland is so close and accessable to me. I know the sequence of events by heart - when to brace for which turns and accelerations - everything. It's a good ride, but how is that perception different from someone that doesn't live so close to the entertainment mecca that is Southern California? Was it a great ride when I was young because I was young, or because it was new? How has the repetition of Disneyland lessened it's impactfulness on me? Halfway through the ride I tried to look at it as if it were my first time, instead of my 100th, and it was even more fun.

When we checked back at Big Thunder Mountain (Emma's favorite ride), it had been temporarily closed down, so we wandered over to the Golden Horseshoe to see the Billy Hill & the Hillbillies Show. This is one of my favorite shows at the park, and each time I see it it's a little different. You can see some of their antics here; this time they also did hillbilly versions of some Beatles songs, and finished with an enactment of Charlies Daniels Band's Devil went down to Georgia.

After a trip on the Mark Twain, and learning that the Jungle Cruise is closed until spring, it was looking like time to get going. We still hadn't eaten, and I didn't really want to pay for overpriced mediocre food inside the park, so I asked Emma if she knew what she wanted to buy with her $10. She wanted to go back to that first cart.

When we got there she started looking at the price tags. She could have purchased any of the pins, but she was hoping to buy two, or something larger for herself. She agonized over what to buy for about 30 minutes - anything within her price range wasn't good enough. After a bit, I mentioned that she didn't have to buy anything - she could save it and save up more money to buy something better the next time we came. She kept looking for another 10 minutes or so, but finally decided to save her money.

On the way out of the park she asked, "Do you think I made the right decision?"
I explained that I thought she had, because it is better to save up for the thing you really want (or even need), rather than spend money on something you don't want as much just for the sake of buying something. I also told her that I wanted this exercise to be a lesson of sorts - about the value of money, and how that relates to what you choose to spend it on. When someone else is buying everything for you, you don't think about it as much. That I want her to be smart with her money when she grows up, so that she can afford the things she really wants.

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