Would you kiss Mickey Mouse with that mouth?

Jean & Iona - Disneyland Paris
| 3 Minute Read |

I have a long and complicated relationship with Disney.  I’m sure we’ll explore that in more detail in the future, but for now, I want to focus on a particular visit to Disneyland Paris with my daughter back in December 2018. 

I pick this trip because it was a defining moment in our mother and daughter relationship.  The trip was to give my daughter a break from what had been a pretty hellish time for her.  We went looking for a bit of magic, I didn’t expect the turning point to be what we now fondly call the “f*ck off afternoon”.

Let’s go back a little in time before we jump in.  In my review of the Brené Brown book ‘The Gift of Imperfection’, I highlighted that I’d discovered my tendency to numb what’s really going on, to avoid my most difficult emotions.  In the lead-up to the trip, there had been a whole range of things for me to avoid, our lives had been turned inside out.  As well as avoiding my own emotions, I had also been trying to shield my daughter, as much as possible, from everything that was going on.  It’s tough to hide anything from an intelligent fifteen-year-old with the wisdom of Yoda, discovered I.

Instead of just shielding her at home, I thought an escape to “the happiest place on earth” to get a dose of Christmas magic seemed like a good idea.  It had been a hellish few months with a sudden divorce and house move, plus several loved ones battling serious health issues – which in turn triggered some serious health issues of our own.  We were both holding a lot.

I’d been pushing plenty of difficult emotions down, no question, trying to “stay strong” for others.  I remember reading a quote from Martha Beck:

“Anger is the immune system for the soul”

I had a massive amount of unexpressed anger at circumstances not only not of my creation, but also very much out of my control.

But Disney isn’t a place of suffering, surely?   Well, I’ve seen both sides of that coin, and we found ourselves – after a relatively calm morning – in an edgy discussion which got dark very quickly!  What started out as teasing suddenly had my anger blast out in our hotel room with full-force and me telling my beautiful girl to “f*ck off”.  I don’t know which of us was more shocked! After apologising, I dashed off to brush my teeth – subconsciously washing my mouth out too perhaps…

This incident could have derailed our whole trip, so  I’ll be forever grateful for the wisdom and understanding of my daughter, who saw it for what it clearly was – a build-up of months and months of unexpressed emotions.  We cried, we laughed, we cried a little more.  Then this wondrous calm came over us, and next thing you know we’re watching the gorgeous Disney parade as though nothing had happened!

Thank goodness for a strong enough relationship to withstand such an outburst.  It’s now the habit in our home to be honest and open about emotions – my daughter actively encourages it to ensure we don’t have another “f*ck off afternoon” as it’s now known.

No matter how far you push down emotions, they will find their way out.

Eventually, everyting you are pushing down will rise to the surfaceEither by making you ill or suddenly and dramatically being expressed and hurting those around us – I’m just fortunate that I have an amazing daughter who was ready to work through this with me.

I’m sure Mickey Mouse would have been as horrified as we were – but also proud of how we turned it around!   

12 replies
  1. Charmaine says:

    Jean – I can so relate to that! We love our children unconditionally & they are the most precious gift we can receive. We sometime have to shout, scream & say things that have been building inside and it’s a scream you never forget! But you always forgive.
    Love you both xx

  2. El says:

    Love this Jean. Knowing your amazing relationship with your brilliant daughter and your more turbulent one with Disney…I am not surprised how this turned out and love the learnings here ❤

    • Jean MacAskill says:

      Thanks El, the truth is the best learnings come out of the most difficult times … a truth that annoys the life out of me sometimes but it shows itself time and time again!

  3. Fiona says:

    Don’t think there can be one parent in this world (yours truly included) who hasn’t had a build up of “not so nice emotions” given very difficult situations, trying to shield a child from it all…only to hit an emotional wall and things bursting forth!…you are so right, Jean (as always – and what an awful time it was for you and Iona)…being honest emotionally is so much healthier for all!!! 😀 <3

    • Jean MacAskill says:

      The interesting thing for me Fiona was when an amazing coach I was working with (this really has been a journey that’s taken a village) highlighted that we can’t teach our children how to deal with emotions if they don’t see us doing it! So obvious but not so easy. xx

  4. Jo says:

    Jean this is so so true – in our so strong desire to protect our children we forget that sharing the messiness of emotions and getting comfortable with that is also an important lesson. Sounds like it deepened what was clearly a really strong relationship – sending much love your way for all your braveness X

    • Jean MacAskill says:

      I know Jo – glad you’re feeling and seeing that too, it’s been a gamechanger for sure since I got more open and honest! Which isn’t always easy.

  5. Sheila Champion-Smeeth says:

    Thank you so much for another inspiring story Jean. Brought tears to my eyes knowing what you lovely ladies were going through and the love and strength you have for each other ❤️

  6. Alison Beck says:

    I am a great believer in not pushing down emotions. In my coaching work I often see (and help people deal with) the effects of them ‘leaking out’. There is something quite liberating and cleansing in letting them free. Thank you for your openness Jean. It is easier to be imperfectly human when someone you respect so much is being human too.


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