What I Learned in Springfield USA


When we were in Orlando, Luisa and I took turns hanging out with Zeca and wandering through Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure because she doesn't enjoy rides. On the first day, Luisa took Miguel to ride some of the roller coasters while Zeca and I walked through Springfield USA, the part of Universal Studios dedicated to The Simpsons. We looked through every gift shop we passed and she scoped out the ice cream places and then we came to an area where there were carnival games. You could throw whiffle balls in a bucket or throw darts at balloons. There was Whack-A-Mole and the game where you use a water gun to make a small metal horse race from right to left. She stopped and looked at every one without saying a word and affter we'd looked at all of them, she went back to the game with the darts and balloons and asked to play. I explained that most of the games were set up in ways that make it impossible to win. "I know," she said, "But I still want to try." I explained that we were pressed for time because we were supposed to meet Luisa and Miguel and she pleaded and then I said, "We'll come back with Miguel and have him win us something."

She turned and walked away. A few minutes later, she stopped and I asked what was wrong and she said, "It hurt my feelings when you said we should get Miguel to win me something..." and my mind began to race, putting together words to explain and then she finished, "... because it means that you don't think I could win something for myself."

And my mind went blank. We stood on the bridge leading out of Springfield with people pushing past us on all sides and the roar of the rides and the sounds of voices and laughter and I was stunned into absolute silence. She was staring up at me, squinting into the sun and I looked at her and said quietly, "I didn't mean it that way..."

But I knew she was right. She hadn't twisted my words. She had repeated them exactly as I had said them and there was only one way to interpret them.

"I'm sorry and I won't do it again."

And then she delivered the knock out punch, "This isn't the first time. You do it more than you realize."

It is no exaggeration to say that I wanted to sit right down on that bridge and cry under the watchful eye of Krusty the Clown and she must have sensed it too because she said, "It's okay, mama. I just wanted you to know."

I thanked her for telling me, for giving me the chance to do better and she said, "And now we are moving on..."

After meeting up with Luisa and Miguel, we went back to Springfield and switched it up--I went to do a couple of rides with Miguel while Luisa explored with Zeca.

Miguel and I were spinning around in the Twirl-N-Hurl when I noticed Luisa and Zeca standing below us. Luisa was leaning on the railing and Zeca was holding a Krusty the Clown in her hands. Each time we spun around, she held it up to show me, jumping up and down a little to make sure that I saw.

When we exited the ride, we met up and Zeca held Krusty out to me and said, "I won this..." I looked at Luisa who knew nothing about what I'd said to Zeca earlier and she smiled and nodded proudly, "She needed to break two balloons to win and she did!" I looked back at Zeca and she said, "I won this myself," and then turned and ran to catch up with her brother.

If I could, I would take those words back and all the others I've apparently said that have made her feel that she is somehow less than her brother. I want to make sure that she understands that it has nothing to do with her being a girl and simply a function of her age but ultimately, that doesn't matter. I told my daughter her older brother was more capable than she was and that's what sticks.

I love that she proved me wrong. I just hope that in the future she doesn't feel she has to.