Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Your chance to do some good.

Cinderella tore her dress on the way to the breakfast where my little bitty Cinderella-want-to-be was eager to meet her on the triplets' fourth birthday at Walt Disney World.  We were told to return to the castle that afternoon for a chance to meet the princess and have the very important photo op! I don't know what I expected to happen upon our return...but I had absolutely no way of anticipating what took place.

We walked in to the castle -- our little Cinderella with her two brothers, one using his little walker, one using his power sticks -- and in to a line that snaked back and forth in the queue. Claire was bouncing up and down with her excitement to see her hero for the first time and pure joy was radiating. We were all smiling in anticipation and I, of course, was busy ensuring my camera had plenty of film (yes, film.)

I looked up in time to see several families motioning for us to go in front of them. We thanked them but assured them we were fine waiting like everyone else. I need you to read that again for emphasis -- we were doing our best to be fine, we were doing our best to be "like everyone else." Because four years into our parenting journey, being normal seemed to be the goal.

But the Fairy Godmother had spotted us, and she had no intention of letting us be like everyone else. She motioned with her wand for us to come forward. That line parted like the Red Sea. I am choked up just typing about it. We walked through that beautiful crowd of families and tried to take in the lesson that sometimes on our journey, my boys will bring out the very best in people. And this was definitely one of those times.

Claire and Cinderella, Benjamin and Mason with the Fairy Godmother -- 2001!

Three years later, we learned the opposite could also be true.

Claire joined the local swim team while we lived in Dallas. She was seven years old and spending four nights a week in the pool training, practicing, perfecting. We were so excited to be at her first meet of the season. The aquatic center had accessible seating in the stands, but the area had been commandeered for the judges' table. We were fine with that though, Benjamin's power wheelchair was still pretty small back then. The security staff told us to just let him sit wherever we wanted.

And so we found the section with other fans from our team, and sat on the front row of those stands so Benjamin could park right beside us. We pulled him back as close to the bleacher as his chair would allow, in order to give people room to walk by.

Unfortunately, that also gave people room to stand in front of him.

And one couple did just that. 

They literally stood directly between Benjamin and the rail -- even though most of the aquatic center was empty. They stood right in front of my seven-year-old in a wheelchair even though they could have sat in any number of seats, even though they could have stood literally ANYWHERE else because they were the only ones standing at the rail.

I gave them time to notice what they were doing and move. They didn't.

I leaned forward and in my sweetest voice (think honey-dripping) told them Benjamin could not see around them. They ignored me. I got up and stood beside them and explained that he wanted to watch his sister swim. They looked at me and told me they weren't moving.

I was shaking in anger. I had never encountered such blatant lack of caring for anyone else. Wade went to talk to them. He was calm but definitely didn't have honey dripping from his voice. They told him they did not care.

A woman -- a stranger -- behind us, asked what was happening. I explained. She had been watching but wanted confirmation. She got up and went to this couple. She told them she was a judge in the district and wanted to highly encourage them to move. They told her to make them.

She went and got security. Security escorted them out. When they turned to leave, I realized they both were sporting t-shirts from my favorite Christian musician.

Years have gone by and yet I remember both of these instances like they occurred yesterday. I am bringing them up today because they seem relevant in this season where wearing a mask has become such an issue.

The crowd at Cinderella's Castle forced themselves and their children to wait longer, to stand longer, to prolong their time away from rides, food, fun longer because they saw my boys and felt compelled to be kind. Are you listening? They inconvenienced themselves because they didn't want my boys to stand longer than necessary. They put Benjamin, Mason, and Claire before their own wants, needs, convenience.

Christian-concert-tee-wearing couple did the opposite. They weren't willing to literally just move a foot over so that a young boy who could not stand to see over them, could also see the swim meet. They chose to put their own wants, desires, comfort ahead of anyone else. They looked at a little boy in a wheelchair and shrugged their indifference to his needs.

Dear ones, choosing to wear a mask right now is so equivalent to SEEING my boys. You may be strong, healthy, and not at all at risk from the effects of COVID, but my boys are. I know that masks are hot, eye-glass-fogging, nuisances but truly, if they prevent one vulnerable person from being exposed to something that could cost them their life, isn't it worth it to be inconvenienced a bit?

The couple at the swim meet didn't think so. They sported their faith on their chest -- literally -- and yet, couldn't move a step over for someone else. I doubt they are wearing masks today.

I have no idea of the religious beliefs of the crowd in the lobby of Cinderella's castle that April day in 2001, but I can tell you without a doubt that they collectively spoke love loudly to us. And the memory of that love has been a balm that served us all these years on hard days, in hard seasons. I feel sure they are wearing masks to keep others safe.

Which will you choose? Will you humble yourself for someone else? Or will you dig your heels in and refuse to move so that the young boy in a wheelchair can do something far more important than just watch his sister swim, will you do it so that he can live?

Mask-wearing to give socially-distant love to the
CP Center families at Nemours A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children!

Carol - The Blessings Counter