I should have known that Disney characters would one day take over my home.
When my husband Yoshi and I married eight years ago, one of our wedding presents was a framed, stained-glass picture of Donald and Daisy Duck, our names and date of marriage etched below. Did somebody think we were going to hang that on our wall? Luckily, it was from Yoshi’s faraway cousins who never visit. I stashed it in the back of a closet.
I had ideas about what I wanted our home to look like: eclectic but adult, tasteful and elegant. I had ideas about what I wanted on our walls. I much preferred the painting we’d bought on a trip to Singapore (a giant pink lotus painted on silk) to Disney ducks. I liked the honey-wooded floors of our house, the buttery, soft leather sofa, the wedding ring quilt on our bed, the heirloom tablecloth from my grandmother.
And then we had kids.
I had already picked out bedding for our newborn twins in a subdued pastel print that went well with the brand new mint green carpet we’d installed. I was just about to fill in the order form when my mother-in-law showed up with a Mickey Mouse comforter set. She told me that merchandise emblazoned with cartoon characters was the most expensive. I learned that Disney is to children as Louis Vuitton is to adults.
One of the first things my husband brought home for the babies was a pair of Disney chairs — Mickey on a blue background for our son, Minnie in red for our daughter.
Next came the gaudiest crib mobile I’ve ever seen in my life. Baby Mickey dangles at the center of hanging pink plastic blossoms. We’ve also got a Mickey and Minnie push toy, Mickey Mouse bath towels and a music box that plays the theme to — you guessed it — “The Mickey Mouse Club.” What did they get for Christmas? Giant plush Mickey and Minnie dolls twice their own sizes, too big to play with.
I hate to sound ungrateful, but I’d imagined simple, old-fashioned toys: teddy bears, sock monkey, colored wooden blocks. But you can’t really control what comes into your house once you have kids. Before we know it, they’ll be buying this stuff on their own with their allowances.
And it’ll get worse. What if, in a few short years, my son decides to slather pinup posters on his bedroom wall? And my daughter . . . What if she is still surrounding herself with cartoon characters at 16, 21, 30?
Right now, I’m trying to maintain perspective. When my son toddles toward me in his Donald Duck shoes and Mickey Mouse shorts set, and my daughter is playing with her crawling baby Minnie doll, and the Disney clock starts playing “It’s a Small World,” Minnie swinging to the beat on the pendulum, I just sing along.