Monday, May 20, 2013

On waiting in line...

There should be all manner of disclaimers on this blog post. I should start by saying my amazing Benjamin is having major surgery this week and my emotions are all over the map. You should know that.

I should also say that the timing of the article causing me to post what will undoubtedly be a rant came just as we returned from a wonderful (wonderful, amazing, precious) trip to Disneyland where we did what our family HAS to do and so I am tender about this particular topic.

And then I should warn you once more. But really, I hope you'll take the time to read what I have to say. Because the bottom line should be that we ALL care about this. Really. (Besides, I am including some really cute pictures and you don't want to miss those!)

So, have you seen this article? Please click now. Take a moment. Read it. Soak in what is happening here. And then forgive me for asking you to read it. Because if you are like me, your blood pressure has escalated to a very unhappy number right now. I am seriously so angry. So mad. So...oh so sad that anyone would even think to do this that my heart physically hurts.

Really? "Hiring" disabled people to help you bypass lines at Disney World? That is an all new level of decadence for this country. An all new level of exploitation. An all new level of "what in the world made you think to do that??"

We frequent both Disney parks -- Disneyland (in our backyard so to speak) and Walt Disney World -- for many reasons but the main one IS in fact because of our two amazing boys who have Cerebral Palsy. 

We go because at Disney our entire family can enjoy the attractions TOGETHER. No one has to sit and watch. That is a big deal. A huge deal, my friends. Because so often in life, the world is completely UN-accessible for Benjamin and even for Mason. We realized early in their lives that Disney works for accessibility and we embraced a place where our family can have intense quality time to laugh, make memories and have a blast!

But let me tell you that it is not easy. Not at all.

So what does a day at the park look like for a REAL family with disabilities? Can I share?

We get up early. Very early. Not because we are chomping at the bit to get to the park (Ok, Benjamin IS chomping....) but because if we DON'T, we will not be able to navigate the crowds with two wheelchairs. It just becomes too much. We start early and when the crowds peak after lunch, we head to our hotel for a rest break.

So we are waiting in line to get in when the gates open. Always. And guess what, two wheelchairs does not bypass that line. Not at all.

And when the gates do open, there is a mad crush of people. A mad rush of those people trying to get to their favorite rides. Benjamin is careful not to run anyone over. He works to keep up with his Dad pushing Mason in his manual chair while working (and yes I mean WORKing) to avoid hitting the people who jump in front of him in their rush. I follow him, anxious to make sure no one is lost in the crowd and trying to keep my husband in my line of sight. All the while, urging my dear Benjamin to keep driving, reminding him that he has as much right to move in the crowd as those walking because his impulse is to stop when people jump over him. All the while, working for a break in the crowd to find a ramp to access the sidewalk. All the while, trying to keep my "happy", my "joy", my sense of fun.

Let me assure you that I have never, not even once, thought "Boy, am I glad we get to fight this crowd with TWO wheelchairs so that we can bypass the lines. WooHoo." (Did I warn you there might be sarcasm?)

Love the newer rides that have vehicles where Benjamin can load IN HIS CHAIR! But guess what, we waited in line for this just like everyone else. Even longer because we had to wait for the ONE special vehicle to get loaded on the track!

And while we do miss some lines -- we MISS some lines. Meaning, my Benjamin enjoys the thrill, but what he really loves is the story. He misses a ton of story in the line for the Indiana Jones ride because it is simply not accessible. He misses the story in the Star Tours line because of the same reason. We have actually asked to walk through those lines as far as we can before stairs hinder us, just so he can experience them.

Because this was HIS trip, Benjamin picked Oswald shirts for us to wear -- Walt's first character. The rights for Oswald were stolen from Walt and only recently did Disney re-acquire the rights to Oswald! My boy LOVES the history!

And not to throw a big old pity party, but honestly, even though Disney does a beautiful job with accessibility, some rides are still just so hard for Benjamin. Dumbo is one. The load is a challenge, his knees can get stuck going in. He opted to ride it this trip because it is Mom's favorite and he wanted to do that for me, but he often opts to watch. Such is his nature. My amazing amazing Benjamin.

So maybe, what I am most angry about, is that my boys would opt to stand in line after line after line, if it was possible for them. But they can not.

But somebody -- obviously more than one somebody if it warranted an article and investigation -- thinks that having able-bodied children and having the means to travel at will are not enough blessings. They must also manufacture a way to bypass any attempt to delay their pleasure-seeking. Oh the lessons they are teaching their children. I am disgusted. I am appalled. I am so sad.

Dad was trying to get Benjamin to smile and completely cracked Merida up...

My only hope is that their behavior might mean someone with a disability was able to enjoy Disney when perhaps they otherwise would not have had the chance. That is my hope.

Please do not misunderstand, I LOVE our trips to Disney. But I assure you that my love for these trips is not because occasionally we miss a few lines. No. Not at all. My love of Disney is that IN SPITE of all the work these trips require, we laugh a lot. We work together as a family. We make memories together as a family. 

And guess what? A lot of those memories are made waiting in lines! Shame on these families...they are missing out. They are bypassing memory-making moments with their families and emphasizing all the wrong things. All the wrong things.

So thankful for my family. So blessed to be the Mom to Benjamin, Mason, Claire and Cate. So blessed to have children who know waiting for our reward is often half the fun!


elissa said...

Unfathomable, right?

I can only pray that what was done with impure motives softens a rocky place in the hearts of the "cheaters". Perhaps their experiences with their "special" companions is enough for some to impress compassion on those of us who experience "special" on a regular basis.

Messy Mom said...

I know Disney is very special for your family. That is unfathomable that anyone would do this, and the sad part is that it ruins it for everybody so the family who DOES show up to Disney with their special needs child would potentially have to be interrogated and have even more hoops to jump through if this becomes an issue and that is very sad. Your pictures are SO great. I especially love Dumbo.

andre pizon said...

I follow your blog as my wife. Certainly it is a food for us who live the same situation with our son. I agree with everything you said, especially about accessibility. God bless you and your family. keep writing love you in Jesus