If there is ever a place to feel special (when you are a 'special' kid), it is at Disneyland. We started surprising the kids with a day at California Adventure with our good friend, Matt Williams, who we hadn't seen in 10 years.
Matt was a missionary while Dave and I were newly married in Delaware. We fed the missionaries a lot back then and offered rides whenever possible. The missionaries also lived just two blocks from our home, so we also offered milkshakes at 9:00 pm for desserts! Matt was one of our favorite missionaries and we grew close. While in college, Matt came to visit a few times and it was our pleasure to play host.
It was so exciting to not only be going to California Adventure with our kids, but also to be meeting up with Matt for the day to hang out and catch up.
When we got into California Adventure I explained Blake's needs (although not necessarily visible at this time). I also explained his endurance issues which lead to behavioral issues and then inevitably a break down that screams "I JUST WANT TO GO HOME." The sweet lady behind the counter, without any judgement, handed us an "VIP" stroller pass that allowed us to take the stroller up to the ride and not wait in long lines. Blake felt like a ROCKSTAR. He felt special for being special. It was a wonderful reward for his great attitude he has had over the last few years dealing with not so great special need issues. As the sweet lady behind the counter handed me our VIP pass, she whispered in my ear, "If you happen to finish this park early, come back and see me and I will walk you in to Disneyland"! Oh I was so excited, but didn't want to say anything to the kids until I knew if Blake was going to be up to it.
By 1:30 pm we had rode every ride in the California Adventure park...a few times. We were finished and Blake was game for Disneyland. The sweet lady smiled as we approached the desk and said, "are ready for more magic?" Blake's eyes lite up and mine got wet all of a sudden. It was a special day for our family. We felt blessed. We felt like it was special to be special. It made the last 7 years of trials completely worth it on that day. To feel like ROCKSTARS. To be treated VIP. It was truly an experience we will never forget.
To make it even more special, Matt had decided to treat our family to California Adventure and was not taking "NO" for an answer. He said it was his turn to repay us and he was sure we had done many a good things for others, besides himself, in our lifetime so far. My eyes wet again and my family was truly touched when I shared with them Matt's treat at the end of our long day. It was a great way to end a wonderful vacation. One we won't soon forget.
Thank you Disneyland. Thank you sweet lady behind the counter. Thank you Matt!