I have had a number of people bring up the idea that they don’t want to take their children to Disney World until they are old enough to remember everything because otherwise it would be a ‘wasted memory’ and a waste of money. These same people don’t have a problem taking their child to see Santa Claus within their first year or give them a birthday present on their First Birthday – or any other number of special things early in their lives. However, big trips like Disney World are pushed to the back until the child is old enough to remember everything about the trip. This ‘age of remembering’ is generally around six years old. Anything before that apparently does not get remembered or slides off a child like water off a duck’s back (I have been waiting literally for YEARS to be able to use that analogy!).
I understand the hesitation to take young children on big trips or to Disney World too young – but I’m one of those people who doesn’t believe in ‘wasted memories’. You see – we took our grandchildren to Disney World for the first time at the ripe young ages of 2 and 4 years old. We have gone a couple of times since then – and we will probably go a few more times in the future. When my other grandchildren arrive – I will try to take them when they are very young also.
Why would I ‘waste those memories’ as well as my money on children who can’t remember anything about that momentous first trip? Lizzie and Liam can’t tell me anything specific about their first trip to Disney World. They do have lots of pictures and they look through the picture books all of the time – especially right before we go back – but actual memories of their own? Not sure those are very clear. Then why would I bother?
Lizzie may not remember the first time she saw the castle as we came around the corner in Magic Kingdom – but I do. I remember her little face lighting up with excitement and her eyes sparkling with tears of joy. I remember her screaming with delight and placing her little hands over her mouth to make sure all of the happiness didn’t escape from her little body. I remember the first time Liam rode on ‘It’s a Small World’ and screamed “Again! Again!” when we got off the boat. I remember them dancing with joy during the parades and the wonder in their eyes when they saw Mickey and Donald. I remember Liam blushing when he met Ariel for the first time and him posing proudly like a prince with Belle. I remember Lizzie telling me it was the best day ever when Cinderella stopped and asked her a question and told her she was so happy to meet her. I remember all of those things – so the memories aren’t wasted – instead they are my own special memories.
This has been true with EVERY first experience with my children and grandchildren. They don’t remember their first visit to Santa Claus – but I do. They don’t remember their first visit to Duluth, Minnesota – playing in Lake Superior and Gooseberry Falls – but I do. They don’t remember their first visit from the Easter Bunny and hunting for eggs – but I do. They don’t remember their very first snowfall – but I do.
No memory is every wasted. Even if a child doesn’t remember the specifics of that first experience, they remember the love, the happiness and the wonder. They look forward to seeing it again to experience those feelings again. They feel that something extraordinary took place.
It is never too early to take a child to see Santa Claus, Duluth, Lake Superior or even Disney World. Lizzie and Liam may not remember the details, but they love these places because their souls and hearts remember something I was lucky enough to witness the first time they saw these wonderful things – I remember seeing them touched by MAGIC and that is never a wasted memory.