I see you, you dapper folks with your yellow cups and your red lipstick unbesmirched by sticky hands.

Before you smirk as you step over my five-six, buck-ten 11-year-old who has magnetized his bottom to the ground in the FastPass entrance to Tower of Terror because I’m trying to drag him on the best ride ever, let me explain: I’m not the Momster you think I am. Here are 5 myths about Disneyland parents—maybe not dispelled, but definitely justified:

Myth 1: I’m here for the kids.
True, I may never have returned to Disneyland as an adult if I hadn’t had kids. I had a good run growing up in Southern California (not anywhere cool, in the bowels of the Inland Empire) and I thought grown up Disney fans were kind of weird. Oh, don’t act offended—we are kind of weird.

But once our family started that Disneyland snowball rolling, you may as well have tried to stop the machine that is Frozen. Now, we go to Disneyland because Mommy wants to ride Big Thunder.

I’m not even sure my kids like Disneyland anymore. They barely batted an eye when I announced our Thanksgiving Disneyland trip. Thanksgiving. at Disneyland. Season of the Force? You get to hug Chewbacca. To be fair, they were watching the new Battlefront download progress at the time.

So when my kids are melting down in the Happiest Place on Earth, it’s because I’m the Selfishest Mom on Earth and I want to close the Park. Just once, I want to close the Park.

Myth 2: I’m a mean mom because I’m dragging my screaming kid onto Tower of Terror/California Screamin’/Dumbo. I kid you not, Dumbo.

I may be a mean mom, but that would be for other reasons. I’m a great mom for making my kids ride rides at Disneyland even if it annoys kidless folks for a few seconds. Let’s call it square because I had to shush my kids giggling about your man bun/boy beard/monocle/bustle until you boarded and then I had to keep them from trying to touch it the entire ride (except the bustle, because you were sitting on it).

Why am I not a meanie for forcing my kids onto rides they clearly scream they do NOT want to ride? Because I know my kids. And every single ride I’ve forced or bribed them to ride has become their new favorite. Except Dumbo. That one didn’t fly after age six.

Myth 3: I let my kid photobomb you.

Technically I didn’t let him—I kind of egged him on. I can’t help it; when I see you’ve got the castle perfectly lined up and you’re puckering up for a selfie, I just want to push you into the castle moat. Because the last time I had enough time to make myself look good enough to take a selfie was a time before cell phones. Not smartphones, cell phones.

Myth 4: I’m not really here.

Disneyland is a place where you can be alone, together. I’ve spent entire days at Disneyland without speaking to anyone besides my own family and Cast Members. I think that’s a shame.

I’m here. You’re here. Let’s act like humans instead of mouse-eared lumps hanging off illicit selfie sticks and smile at one another and hold the Pirates gate for one another and offer to take pictures of one another so we can stop this selfie nonsense.

Myth 5: I will mow you down with my stroller.

Even though my son lazed in a Disneyland stroller for the better part of our Disneyland days until he was eight (hey, if someone were willing to push, wouldn’t you?), and even though I sometimes maneuvered two strollers at once by myself (never a double stroller because those are just rude), and even though I did tip a stroller off a curb (more than once, but it contained only four drinks, crumpled maps, refused sweatshirts, clean diapers, discarded costumes, and enough snacks to feed a small village for a week—no kid), I am proud to say I never once hit another human with a stroller.

I have a two-inch scar on my calf because one day a parent decided I wasn’t run-walking fast enough to Toy Story Mania and ran his jogging stroller wheel up the back of my bare leg. I therefore totally understand from whence this myth comes. Unfortunately, as happy as being inside Disneyland makes most people, Disney magic can’t touch you if you’re a jerk. Jerk outside Disney, jerk inside Disney. Some jerks push strollers.

I love Disneyland—just like you do!—and some day when you take your kids to Disneyland and feel shamefully delighted when a Cast Member calls you Princess instead of Ma’am, you’ll truly get that. In the meantime, I’ll probably be here the next time you are. If I’m not busy trying to talk my kids into riding Tower of Terrific, I’ll smile at you and hold the Pirates gate for you and offer to take a picture of you with all your dapper friends.

Carissa Houston is the author of Disneyland on a Budget and the mom of two Disney darlings.
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