******************WARNING! Rant ahead!*******************
Skip to the bottom if you wish to avoid the following negative vibes.
I am sick and tired of people using my daughter as an excuse to do whatever they please. Her father's family had (probably still does, but she hasn't seen much of them thanks to the divorce) a nasty habit of asking my daughter if she wanted to do something, then completely ignoring her requests. Also, they have a tendency to "do things" for my daughter that she neither asked for nor wanted, such as shopping "for her" only to get something for her that is either inappropriate for her age or that doesn't fit her properly or that isn't her style. When they take her to places that are supposed to be fun, like a theme park, she spends almost the entire time being dragged around to whatever they want to do or what they "think" she might want to do, without actually consulting her. She is also forced to eat on THEIR meal schedule, instead of when she actually gets hungry. The same goes for bathroom breaks and rests. If they're not tired, then she must not be.
I'm trying to teach my daughter how to find the positives in even the bleakest of situations. However, she's a very intelligent child, always has been, and she can tell when she's being used. No one deserves to be ignored or forced to do what others want. I understand that it is not easy to find balance among people, especially when the number of different personalities and interests increases with the size of the group. However, completely ignoring any one person almost all the time, or completely giving in to any ONE person almost all the time, does not build relationships. Each person deserves at least close to a fair share of time and attention when in a group. The modified exception might be if you are celebrating one person, such as on their birthday. Even then, to completely ignore everyone, treating them as accessories or slaves, defeats the purpose of inviting them to share in your celebration. It's even worse when the person who is supposed to be celebrated is the one who is ignored.
Enter my real rant for the day [I promise, I WILL get to the optimism later in the post!].
My daughter is new to her school. It's a pre-K through 8th grade Catholic school. I knew it would take a while for her to make friends for a variety of reasons--she's living in an apartment with just her currently unemployed single mom and our turtle while almost all of the other kids come from well-to-do families of multiple siblings and professional working parents; she's advanced in all of her classes except English because of a speech issue; we're relatively new to the area so we had to establish ourselves in everything; my daughter is a "warrior princess" type of geek (loves typical girly things like Disney Princesses and MLP: FIM as well as typical boy stuff like comics and video games); we don't have cable so she doesn't keep up with the latest trendy shows and she's not on Facebook (thank God!) or Vine [she does have a Google account and Twitter, but doesn't check them often]; she's also highly emotionally intelligent, so she doesn't suffer fools very well, but she's sensitive and has a strong moral compass, so she ends up fuming inside and getting hurt because she's not the type of person to bully back.
After all of this, she was thrilled to have made two friends towards the beginning of the school year who seemed to actually care about her. My daughter poured out some of her burdens to them, letting them know about the divorce and how our budget was stretched so tight it would snap at any moment. The friends seemed to be genuinely caring when they suggested that they plan a special day for her. See, many people who have been to a Disney theme park in either California or Florida have seen the tiny little tots flouncing around in their store-bought frilly princess dresses and glittered hair and make-up. What I didn't know was that there is an age cap for the service at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, where all the little princesses are transformed. They supposedly don't take any girls (or boys, if you want the "prince" hair package) after age 12, or so it is if you follow the rules. So, my daughter's new "friends" heard the she had never done BBB (her dad always dismissed the idea as too expensive and I never had the money myself), so they convinced her that they wanted her to get to feel special, too, as they had been to the Boutique a number of times before and it was supposed to be a lot of fun. One of her friends even gave my daughter the money to pay for most of the hair package. We would have to buy a dress because Disney princess dresses only go up to size 12, which is nowhere near my daughter's size. My daughter has much eastern European stock in her genetics. She couldn't fit anything in the children's section of any clothing store after age 8 due to her height and bone structure (okay, also excess girth and early onset of puberty).
So, we made what would be the first and last reservation for my daughter at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and bought an "Elsa" dress online (horrible dress that did not fit well though it was the largest size available, was intentionally split up the middle in the front past the panty line instead of along the side so I had to make an underskirt for it, had all its gems fall off). My daughter was already self-conscious because she'd never gotten her hair done and never wears make-up except when performing in a dance recital. Plus, she is well aware that she is not "princess" sized. Saturday, we got up early so we could grab breakfast and park at the Magic Kingdom, then we took transportation to BBB at Downtown Disney. Her friends were barely waking up by the time we parked. She was feeling a little special because she would be able to share this magical moment with her friends.
I was perturbed with the girls from the start, though. Her friends showed up late, despite the fact that they made their appointments for a few minutes earlier than my daughter's, telling me that they made their reservations before she got to make hers. It also turns out that this once-in-a-lifetime moment for my daughter was mere routine for these girls. The part that peeved me very much, besides their general bearing and attitude (want to see a diva princess? I got to spend the day with one of them!), was the fact that they not only lied to Disney, but also to my daughter. They made a big deal to my daughter about this not only being her first and last chance to do it, but also their last chance, implying that they were twelve. Both girls were well past their 13th birthday when we went. One had even turned 13 before making the reservation back in November. These girls are blessed with perfectly waif-like frames and they did look pretty in their get-ups. They took almost no time to get their hair, nails, and make-up done because they have the standard shorter shoulder-blade length hair cuts and they requested the standard princess buns. They were also seated 30 minutes before my daughter even got started. Oh, and my daughter took a bit longer because she has a full thick head of waist-length hair. The BBB staff were fantastic. My daughter really did feel special, and she was a great princess to work on, as she didn't complain or demand or fuss. Unfortunately, her friends (let's call them EJ for the one who opted to wear the belly dancer Jasmine outfit and SS for the Snow White) were done so much earlier than her that they wandered around the shop together and started giving her antsy looks (the ones that say "Come on! We're ready, so you should be too!) towards the end. To their credit, they didn't voice their impatience, they simply completely ignored my daughter while she was experiencing this special time for her. I wanted to make it special, too, so I opted to pay for the photo package so all three girls could have pictures of their time together. Not surprisingly, none of the other parents even thought to offer this. I paid for the whole thing together, as I didn't want to complicate things for the cashier with my daughter paying in cash and me paying for the photo package with my card. I told my daughter to use the cash to pay for lunch for the girls, since this is something I was going to offer them.
Okay, my rant is getting too long. I feel I've set up the situation enough. Let me summarize the next 8 hours we spent at the Magic Kingdom after the photo shoot. It became the EJ show from the moment we got there. If EJ didn't know what she was doing, then we stood around for too long waiting for her to make a decision. See, EJ thinks she's a Disney expert. She tells my daughter that her parents frequently drop her off at the Magic Kingdom (I don't know if she's been to the other parks) all by herself and she roams around chatting up the characters on Main Street. By the way, this is expressly forbidden by Disney policy, which requires all minors under 17 be accompanied by a ticket-bearing adult. EJ likes to brag about everyone knowing her at the parks and about getting to see this or do that all the time. She likes to believe that she knows all there is to know about Disney. She's also the impatient type. I had a feeling there would be trouble when we finally got to our first ride, after wandering around Main Street because EJ wanted to meet with the citizens of Main Street and she wanted to get SS to play her Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game so EJ could play hers. The wait time for our first ride said 40 minutes. She immediately wanted to walk to the other side of the land to get FastPassses. Keep in mind that we would have had to coordinate THREE different accounts--EJ's, SS and her mom, my daughter and I--to get the passes for everyone. We convinced her that any wait time under an hour was pretty good. By the way, we were on the ride in less than 15 minutes.
Throughout the day, EJ led the way. She used SS as an excuse to play the Sorcerer's of the Magic Kingdom game, which is enjoyable, but it does require you to run around the land in which you're playing that particular event, going from portal to portal many times. EJ and SS ended up playing three of these events before my daughter pointed out that they had agreed to ride something else earlier. My daughter got hungry an hour before EJ decided that she was hungry. Thankfully, I had peanuts and water in my backpack so my daughter wouldn't collapse or lose her cool until we could finally stop for lunch, which was at the restaurant where EJ loved to eat, surprise, surprise. Oh, yeah, the girls wouldn't allow my daughter to buy them lunch. SS's mom paid for them instead (EJ's parents left after paying for her BBB session, but they left her with their credit card). That was when SS demanded that my daughter return the money she gave her (in friendship, I thought) because she didn't use it at BBB. I understand her point, but she also wouldn't listen to ours. It hurt my daughter a lot when SS made that demand.
Because the two girls moved a lot faster than the rest of us, my daughter had to run to keep up with them. I gave up and continued to hobble along at the best pace I could keep without having an asthma attack (I have exercise-induced asthma, which kicks in if I go faster than my lungs can handle, or climb stairs). After 3 attractions picked by either EJ or SS's mom following lunch, I finally picked one for my daughter and I, and afterwards we said our good-byes. I had had enough of selfishness and the rain that dumped on us all day (which led the girls to hide their princess outfits and hair/makeup under ponchos all day) didn't help.
The final straw, which prompted our leaving early, was when EJ took the phone of SS's mom and linked their 3 tickets together, getting them a FastPass for later that evening without either asking or consulting my daughter or I. That's downright rude. The whole day was the EJ show, though it was supposed to be a day for all the girls, but especially my daughter, to feel special. They merely used her as an excuse to dupe Disney into another session at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. They merely used her as an excuse to get their parents to buy them annual passes and spend the day at Magic Kingdom all dolled-up. They used her as an excuse to feel like they were having pity on a poor plus-sized girl, only to ditch and ignore her most of the day. It hurts, it stings, and it smacks too much of the treatment my daughter gets from a majority of people who ever met her, with the exception of a few handful of people (my family, her best friend she's known since infancy, maybe one or two others she's met along the way, people from church). I'm sick and tired of people using my daughter as an excuse to do something for themselves!
*****************End Rant, Begin Positivity**********************
Here's the lemonade to our lemons. Whenever I see that my daughter is getting used like this by others, two things happen. 1) My momma bear mode kicks in and I finally stand up for something--my daughter--that I should have been pushy about the entire time. 2) I feel, not really the need, but more like a compulsion to make up for it through my own actions so that my daughter can see that not everyone on this earth is going to treat her so badly. Every time since the divorce that my daughter has spent with her father and his chosen family, I spend the following trip to one of the Disney parks doing what she wants to do and listening to her thoughts/feelings about the visit or anything else she wants to get off her chest.
In essence, my daughter and I are growing a stronger bond ever time someone abuses her like this. The truth is, I would bond with her even if everyone else treated her as the special human being that we all deserved to be treated as, but it seems even more potent when our time together follows these negative experiences. I'm hoping that my daughter will also see that yes, there are many selfish people in the world who only care about themselves, but there are also good people who treat everyone with the respect that we all deserve. I'm hoping that the negative experiences are not dwelt upon, but that they highlight the positive experiences more. I want my daughter to learn from the bad times, but remember the good times.