Sad at the "Happiest place on Earth"

Originally Appeared in : 9912-6/6/19

The “Happiest Place on Earth” would be the last place you’d expect to find someone with a sad, disappointed look on their face (unless you’ve listened to Jim Gaffigan’s hilarious take on Disney World), but there Jesse was, shoulders sagging and usually perky cheeks drooping as we strolled through New Fantasyland.


What made it even more perplexing was the fact that Jesse had just gotten off one of his favorite rides, Dumbo. I had to get to the bottom of Jesse’s sadness, especially considering I didn’t pay a bunch of money to Mickey Mouse for anyone to have a bad time; we could have plenty of those on the cheap.


“Jesse, why are you upset?” I asked.


“Nothing,” he said.


“Now Jesse, I’m not going to go through this again. Tell me what’s bothering you,” I said sternly.


“It’s just that I’m going to have to go to Confession,” he said, nearly tearing up.


“Jesse, what did you do to have to go to Reconciliation?” I said.


“I think I know why he’s mad,” Magan said from behind. “He thinks that I made him lie to ride Dumbo by himself.”


“What?” I said, even more perplexed.


“It’s just that I’m not eight, and you have to be eight to ride alone. And I rode alone, so I have to go to Confession now,” he said, getting more upset.


“What I tried to tell him is that if they asked him if he was over seven he could say ‘Yes’ because he’s seven and a half. He wasn’t lying, but he didn’t understand. Even when the lady asked, ‘Are you over seven,’ he said, ‘Yes,’ but acted weird the rest of the time.”


“I’m just going to have to go to Confession,” Jesse said.


“Look now,” I replied, starting to get upset that our best family vacation in some time was heading downhill fast, “they weren’t asking if you were eight, they were asking if you were older than seven and you are older than seven. You are seven and a half, which means you didn’t lie.”


The whole situation could have been avoided altogether if one person had thought to book the front-of-the-line Fast Passes with Jesse’s age in mind: Me. I had booked only the people I thought wanted to ride, and hadn’t taken into consideration seating arrangements.


I felt bad that I’d put Jesse and his mom into a situation that could have impacted their everlasting souls, especially over a flying elephant. So when we were blessed with some unexpected additional Fast Passes, I made sure to book Magan and our little ones another flight on Dumbo but this time with Noah lined up to be Jesse’s riding buddy.


“That’ll fix it,” I said to myself as I hit “confirm” on my phone.


Proud of my accomplishments, but even prouder of my son’s wanting to do the right thing, I shared our plans with the group ready for one of those moments you see in the Disney commercials.


I got that response, mostly, save for the very person I was expecting to smile the biggest over a more saintly circular ride on Dumbo.


“Jesse, why aren’t you excited to ride with Noah?” I asked.


“I wanted to ride by myself,” he said.


“But you were upset and thought you had sinned?” I said, confused.


“Yeah, but I’m over seven,” he said. “Remember?”


“Well, you’re riding with Noah,” I replied, matter-of-factly.


Up until the moment he discovered he hadn’t run afoul of God, Jesse was actually serving as a good example to his brothers, sisters, and even his parents, of how we should all look at sin. He was upset and disappointed, and not just because he was going to have to visit the Kissimmee Confessional before we headed home, but because he thought he’d lied and lying is wrong.


Jesse was living out 1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”


Magan and I are very proud of Jesse for his example, and hope his siblings will follow suit, but next time I’m letting Magan book the Fast Passes and seating arrangements, and only after we’re certain of any age restrictions.


Jason Halcombe has five sons and two daughters. He and his wife, Magan, are members of Immaculate Conception Church, Dublin.

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