Friday, January 18, 2013

Our Disney World

I've thought a lot about what I will say when asked "Did Calder like Disney World"? The short answer is yes. But I have another answer...." Disney is the happiest, scariest place on earth".

"Where dreams come true". I've struggled with that one. Trying to find what that means to me, like a complicated bible passage, taking many years of study to glean out the true and simple meaning. Another one, "Let The Memories Begin" designed in the well manicured greenery as you walk into Magic Kingdom almost mocks me. What memory will we make today, oh boy. How about the 'foaming at the mouth' memory? But I'm getting ahead of myself. Yes, he got to meet his favorite characters, Woody and Buzz. He voluntarily waited in lines each day we were there to meet those guys. I believe this may have been his favorite thing. If it is true that kids with autism can not filter out all the background noise and stimulus, then what Calder accomplished at Disney is nothing short of amazing. Besides the loud bumping ramble of the crowds, the piped in music, the enormity of the place, the logistics, the sudden and loud parades and street parties, AND Mom and Dad asking 'what do you want to do?' And , and, and.....

I'm extremely proud of my guy. And a little bit sad. For him the fun comes at a cost . He takes it all in and when he can't take another minute, another decibel he retreats. He will shut down and he can no longer hear what you are saying. If it were up to him, just the unknowing would keep him from exploring and following his curiosity. The hour long line was so much of a hurdle, it didn't matter to him that something amazing awaited. Favorite characters aside, the unknowing was too strong. He kept saying he wanted to go back to the hotel. I would ask him why and he said "because they have elevators". Try explaining that to someone: he loves elevators more than rides. But I knew, if he could just get through the waiting and the unpredictability, that he would actually love it. And he did. But if we left it up to him, he just as well stay in the hotel. There is a fine line between taking things at his pace, and deciding what he can handle. I promised myself that I would not force him to do things. I thought that decision was going to be easy.

There were many happy moments for him. First, he had the constant attention of all four of his wonderful grandparents! Another thing is for sure, they never say no to kids at Disney. Reliably refreshing. He got to eat marshmallows for dinner one night. Magic. But the next morning after he ate his breakfast at the buffet he asked to eat marshmallows again. Some kind server went digging in the kitchen to unearth marshmallows for my kid. Double magic.

$10 balloons: two kids =$20. Little did we know we were also getting an insurance policy, and a disgruntled waiver. After one night Calder's $10 balloon went flat. It was replaced the next day gratis. When Calder then changed his mind about which balloon he wanted, the nice balloon man let him trade it out for another. These little moments were absolutely magic unfolding. It had nothing to do with rides...