The first time I went to Disneyland in Hong Kong was 3 years ago when my son turned four. Throughout his infant years, I have been struggling to hold onto my own energy. I have always been in a chronic state of fatigue. Every time I wished to play with him, I also go into fear of being very tired. The first time we went, I had been tired even before we got on the first ride.
Last week I promised him another visit to Disneyland. It was a gift to him for summer and my dear friend Vivian who works in Disneyland gave us a free entry pass. I went without much expectation, but clearly Neem connected to the spirit of Disney the moment we got on the Disney train in Sunny Bay. He lounged lovingly on the velvet seats and exclaimed he has never been on anything more comfortable.
Once we got onto the Disney grounds his ecstasy was beyond control. He felt into everything, and was very impressed by all the welcoming signs and gestures throughout the park. Seeing his excitement, I opened up to the wonder of a child’s heart and we enthusiastically lined up for our first ride–Buzz Lightyear. It was a long queue before we met with the Toy Story characters. When we finally did, Neem was already high on a mission–he was a young space ranger ready to defeat Zurg. Those in line with us can’t disguise their smiles, seeing a child so fully immersed in saving the world.
Oh how he loved the Buzz Lightyear ride, every time he aimed and successfully shot at the Z’s, his feelings are genuine in believing he is one step closer to rescuing humanity.
Truly content with his accomplishment, he led me to line up for the second ride. We both didn’t know what ride it was, but was happy to go on another exciting experience. While we were lining up, suddenly I remembered my first roller coaster experience on Space Mountain in the LA Disneyland when I was 13. I articulated as visually as possible my teenage experience. Neem said it sounded scary.
By the time we were at the gate to the ride, we found out we were actually lining up for Space Mountain! I asked Neem again whether he wants to go on it. He paused for one moment and said “Yes! For the experience!” I could not hide my smile…this child has spoken my heart. He is my child.
I hadn’t envision my excitement. I was so excited to re-experience my first roller coaster ride. I loved roller coasters. When I was 13 to 14, I have been on so many of them in different parts of the United States, and every time it was better than the last. It was the whole package–the freedom of youth, the unlimitedness of the soul, the desire for expansion, the invincibility of no fear.
Yet Neem was still 7, so I had to reinforce him that we are entering Space for an adventure, just mom and son. The darkness in Space Mountain was very comforting for me, while it was too dark for Neem. I so enjoyed screaming my heart out, not out of fear but purely for expression, Neem didn’t share my sentiment, and was quiet and laid on my lap while the space vehicle maneuvered its sharp turns.
When we finished our mission in Space, according to young space ranger Neem, Space Mountain was the worst ride ever, and he is never going to go on it again. When we knew we were going into a “real” rollercoaster, I had a moment of doubt as of whether Neem would go back to Buzz or Winnie the Pooh rides after being initiated into Space Mountain, clearly my doubts were superfluous, he is still a child at heart. And I love him so much for it.
We went on a few more rides, had blue cotton candy and bought souvenirs, immersing deep in the Disney reality. And then we were both very hungry. I wanted to leave Disney to go for a good meal, but was already too ravenous and weak to move. Without much planning, we stepped into a Disney restaurant on the way out and had one of the best meals within the entire context. We loved it and ate in such divine satisfaction.
As our hunger has been satiated and we strolled leisurely on the Disney main road to head out of the theme park, Neem wanting to visit more souvenir shops for toys, and seeing a shop with a painted sign “Jewelry” in sight, asked : “Mommy do you want to look at some jewelry?” Can I not love this child?
He was similarly impressed with all the signs that bid him farewell with reassuring requests of having him come back soon, as we walked towards the train. We were both physically exhausted but our hearts were so full. Whatever reality we are in, I treasure every opportunity to know my child more. I am so immensely honored.