I laughed out loud to read my friend Whitney’s caption under a delightful movie of her child sledding in snow. “This video is misleading,” she wrote, “Today has not been all fun and games.” While she’s always enjoyable to read (and her blog 510 Families is an East Bay must for parents), my delight was also because I’d been mulling over the grueling labor that makes a fun trip to Disneyland possible.

Don’t get me wrong: I love Disneyland, and we had fun. Lots of fun. Oodles. It’s the happiest place on earth. There was just quite a bit of sibling rivalry. Strangers were jostled in line squabbles between the kids. There was pouting, whining, crying, and screaming, mostly in full view of at least 200 people. Also, quite a lot of deception. Late one evening when Jaden was exhausted and couldn’t go on, I  fibbed that we would “save” our passes to the hot ticket ride for another time. Then pressured his sister into agreeing to the lie. I do intend to take him back there and fulfill the promise in a general way, but in the moment it was 100% manipulation.

There’s the “Facebook effect” of how we present only our happy selves to the world, how these lovely camera-ready moments make it look like everyone else is having more fun than we are. But for me at least it goes deeper than that: I really do forget about the yucky bits: the sweaty wishing I was there already on the hike, the times I’m paying for a babysitter but wishing I was already home.

I have to be physically back at Disneyland to remember the full intensity of the experience: we need a bathroom right now, I’m going to scream if I don’t get a nacho, why are we always behind such annoying people. “Oh yeah, there’s this too” I realize, reluctantly.

It’s not unlike Christmas. Today I took down the tree. Undoing the decorations and dragging the poor thing to the street always feels a bit wrong and sad. This year Berkeley asked us to chop up our trees and put them in the compost if possible. (Maybe they always ask this and it’s the first time I noticed). I try to be a good citizen, so took my jumbo clippers to the poor tree. “Good God, who do you think you are, a lesbian?” asked a friend who learned of my plans. But I did it:


Violent as it was to eviscerate our lovely tree, there was something cathartic about it too. Yes, there’s a lot of sweat and tears that go into our celebrations and holidays and getaways. It’s hard work, making it all happen, and cleaning it up afterward. But it’s good work. Fun might not be all we’re having, but we are having fun.

This morning, early before the first day back at school, Jaden looked at me with a sweet gleam in his eye. “We still have those tickets,” he whispered. And I agreed. We still have those tickets, and we will use them.

Happy New year everybody.