Sunday, February 9, 2014

Lessons from the witch with the emerald-green face...

I have an extremely theatrical family -- we love to be on the stage (well Dad doesn't...), we love to be in the audience, we love to read plays, and I even have a budding director in the lot. But when we made our children's first trip to New York city in November, not one of us had ever seen the critically-acclaimed musical, Wicked.

Arriving in Times Square!

But almost everyone we know had. Seriously, our friends in theater had seen it, loved it and often played the soundtrack for us; our friends on Facebook had documented their show-goings often; and we had heard Idina Menzel sing in person. Suffice it to say we were extremely excited to see the show on Broadway. 

Me and my crew in Central Park.

And let me say right here that we loved it. The show was fabulous and we dream about getting to see it again one day.

But I do have a small question: how in the world did not one person, not one of our large number of friends that I mentioned above, ever, not even once, mention that the Elphaba's sister has special needs? That Elphaba's sister is in a wheelchair because she was born too early? That Elphaba's sister has what I am certain is Cerebral Palsy?????

Dad and our crew on Liberty Island in New York Harbor.

I don't want to spoil the show for the one or two people in America who may not have seen it yet....but I have to admit that every time I hear the soundtrack I ponder how I possibly had missed that pretty significant plot point prior to entering the theater?

But perhaps the point that is really rattling around in my head is much more serious than plot points. Perhaps the point rattling around is more about the very real issues facing siblings of special needs children; of the very real issue of over-coddling by parents of special needs children; and the very real issue of finding the right balance between meeting the needs of the child without completely over-compensating for the fact that he is in a wheelchair/is sick/needs surgery/etc.

Ready for the Show!

As a family we walk a tight-rope. We choose vacations based on accessibility. That means there are probably places that the girls might enjoy going that we will not visit because it would be too hard with the wheelchairs. 

When Benjamin had his year-o'-surgeries last year, we let him have first-pick of rides at Disneyland.

People readily remember the boys -- leaving their triplet sister sometimes feeling like "hey, I'm part of the group too." They get attention -- positive and negative -- when we enter a room. I imagine it is sometimes hard to be the triplet without a special need.

Day-to-day life requires a Team Shrader effort. Claire carries more than her share so that I can take care of her brother who requires more.

Cate was only two-years-old when she climbed out of her high chair, climbed up on the wheel of Benjamin's wheelchair and wiped the ice cream off of his chin to help. She already knew that it was important that we all work together.

A no-doubt well-meaning adult once told a young young Claire that she felt sorry for her because her Mommy was so busy with her brothers. I may have lost my cool that evening when she told me. Not with her -- but in defense of her, her brothers and our family dynamics.

Because the bottom line in non-Fairy Tale real life, is that everybody gets a choice about how we handle our personal journey.  Since they were very young I have told my boys that they get to make a choice every single morning: Will I feel sorry for myself today? or will I use today to glorify God in whatever He gives me?

The night the well-meaning adult expressed pity for Claire, I realized she also had to make a daily choice: Will I feel sorry for myself? Or will I ask God to be glorified in everything I do today?

Dear Elphaba and her sister will continue to rattle around in my head -- I mean we sing along with the soundtrack almost every morning -- but they will be a good reminder that Benjamin, Mason and Claire are not alone in having to make a daily choice. No. I also get to choose joy every single morning. I get to choose to give God the day and ask for the wisdom He promises in order to meet the physical and emotional needs of these amazing four He entrusted to me.

I get to choose to count my blessings.


charla said...

A very timely lesson for me this morning, sweet friend. Thanks for sharing your heart again. We haven't seen Wicked, either, but it is on my bucket list.

Allison said...

I love everything about Wicked. I saw it in London and had seats in the balcony, which I thought might not be the greatest, but it turned out to be a blessing because I could really see the WHOLE scenery.

Your daughter looks just like you -- so pretty! Thank you for sharing your family's journey. It always uplifts me. :)

Kathryn V said...

Hi Mrs. Shrader! I am interested in cerebral palsy and have been following your inspirational blog. I was wondering if you had heard that skier Alex Bilodeau of Canada won gold in the Olympics. He has an older brother, Frederic, who has cerebral palsy, and he credits his success to his brother. Truly inspiring! Here is a link to the video shown before his competition:

Kathryn V.