On Sunday, we took Mazzy to visit the capital of children, the mecca of toddlerdom, the epicenter of fun for all earthlings under five. We braved the hoards of parents wielding double strollers chasing their bathing-suit-clad breathren through a muppet-themed parking lot and entered a world called— SESAME PLACE.
The day was both amazing and exhausting. Full of highs and lows that only parents, toddlers and the clinically insane could understand. Regardless, if you live in or near Pennsylvania, I recommend going highly. It was worth it the second Mazzy saw a garden of flowers shaped like Elmo ("IT'S ELMO!!!!! MOMMY, IT'S ELMO!!!! LOOOK!!!!!"), and that was before we even got out of the car.
Beyond the wonder of riding Elmo's Flying Fish and the delight of seeing Cookie Monster in the flesh, Sesame Place (and theme parks in general) are chock full of life lessons for your little ones. They might be tough lessons, but they'll have to be learned eventually and what better way to do it than alongside Abby Cadabby?
For instance, just because someone is selling a Big Bird balloon the size of a small car, doesn't mean your child gets to take it home. No matter how loudly or how many times he/she asks.
Here are 7 tough lessons toddlers will learn their first time at a theme park:
Your toddler might be tickled pink to see the roller coaster and the merry-go-round. But what she doesn't know is, before she gets to ride them, the very essence of her toddlerhood will be tested. What is the ultimate test for a two-year-old? WAITING ON A LINE.
Each time a ride stopped, Mazzy would scream, "IT'S MY TURN NOW!!!?" with only a hint of a question at the end. "Maybe!" I would respond excitedly for the tenth time, only to have the rope closed right before we got to the front. "YAY! We're NEXT! Isn't this FUN???" Mazzy would respond by trying to climb over the barricade.
Once the ride is over, you'd think your child would be all about finding the next attraction. Not exactly. How long does your kid usually stay on a swing? Around ten minutes, right? Well, rides usually last about TWO minutes. So, as soon as your kid has adjusted to the speed/height/spinning/etc. and is in FULL ENJOYMENT MODE, that ride is coming to a close. "We're stopping?" Mazzy would ask. "Yes, babe, the ride is over." "NOOOO!!! I want to ride AGAIN!" "Well, my friend, how did you feel about that LINE?"
3. COMPLEX DECISION-MAKING
Okay, you want to go on the swings again? Then we may not have time for Big Bird's Balloon Race. You want Mommy to come on the ride with you? That means Daddy has to stay back and watch the stroller. You want to go on Grover's World Twirl (aka THE TEACUPS)? That means you are on your own because that ride makes both Mommy and Daddy nauseous. You want a bowl of Puffins for lunch? That means we have to go back home.
4. DEALING WITH DISAPPOINTMENT
Otherwise known as "YOU MUST BE AT LEAST THIS TALL TO RIDE THIS RIDE" or "We are all out of rainbow sprinkles" or the worst heartbreak of them all— "I'm sorry but Cookie Monster is going on break so there will be no more pictures". He was literally escorted away by handlers while Mazzy moped quietly, "But I want to hug him…"
Did I mention the waiting? (Please keep in mind, we were there on a holiday weekend.) Waiting occurs on the ticket line before you even gain entry into the park. Then you wait for rides, food, and shows to start. Going to a theme park is really one big exercise in "gearing up to stand still". Even if the lines aren't that bad, to a toddler they will feel like an ETERNITY. But once that ride starts, it will be well worth it.
Unless you have the kid that starts crying as soon as the ride begins. If that's the case, stick to the shows. Below is Mazzy losing her mind at the "Play With Me" Show.
I call this reaction "Bieber Levels of Sesame Fandom":
6. EVERYONE LIES, INCLUDING YOUR PARENTS
Those 12" lollipops that are sitting next to the ice cream register? They are for display only. The rows upon rows of stuffed Abby Cadabbys? They are for playing in-store. The Cookie Monster that went on a coffee break? Yeah, he's not coming back— he went home. Those nauseating teacups? That ride is broken. "But I see people on there!" "Those aren't real people, KEEP MOVING!"
Mazzy waited patiently to go on Ernie's Bed Bounce. When it was finally her turn, Mazzy ran all over that thing like she owned it. Then a whistle was blown and it was time to come back. Mazzy stood still. She surveyed the situation. Then she ran to the part of the bed that was farthest away from the exit. The whistle blew again. Mazzy stood defiantly. Then the whistle-blower jumped onto the bed to retrieve her. Mazzy ran in the opposite direction. A "Fast & The Furious" worthy chase ensued. Unfortunately, Mazzy lost and was escorted back in what I call "The Toddler Hold".
Also, when we made our final decision to leave the park, we were met with a crossing of the arms and a foot stomp. "But I don't WANT to go HOME!!!!" "Mazzy, you can stomp your feet all you want but it's not going to change anything." Then, right before we hit the exit, Mazzy spied a spritzing station. I think it might have been her favorite part of the day.
So yes, Mazzy learned that all good things must come to an end but she also learned how to milk them for all they are worth.
All in all, Mazzy had an awesome time and we would definitely go again. There is a whole other half of the park (the waterpark side) that we didn't even have time to attempt.
Although, I think we'll try to go on a weekday next time.