Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Ride

A few days ago we went to Busch Gardens with our friends, the Rs.  Jason wasn't able to go on a weekday; we were lucky that Annette could come with us.  It was our last big "hurrah" before the start of school.

I expected a hot day, and since the park is expansive, I brought our double jogger stroller.  I figured both Elena and Vivian would be get tired.  I had decided beforehand that Elena wasn't going to wear a handicap bracelet (which would let her skip to the front of the line).  We found out the hard way (last year) that the h-cap status trumps the height requirement, so she would not be allowed on certain rides, even if she was tall enough.  If I had any reservations regarding Elena's safety on a ride, of course I wouldn't let her on it--but that's just not the case.  I figured the most important thing I could do was to have Elena conserve her energy by offering her a ride for most of the day.

I was in for a pretty big surprise.

For starters, once we arrived at the park and set up the stroller, I asked if the girls wanted a ride.  Viv hopped in.  Elena didn't.

"I'll walk."

So she did.  She walked the length of over a football field, in a crowd, up long and steep hills, until she wanted a short break.  Fierce.  Then she got out again, and walked some more!  When it came to the rides, Elena is tall enough to ride the next "tier" of attractions--which, I have to admit, is pretty cool.  And E is super adventurous, too.

E's choice:  Front row seat

Vivian loved riding with the big kids!

Riding the Balloons

The Rs know there way around the park extremely well, and knew how to time things *just right* so we would have short lines and entertainment during mealtimes.  The kids LOVED the shows!

Viv (4th from left) is spellbound

Elena rode as many "grown-up rides" as she could, with me or Annette by her side.  We waited in line together, she walked through the lines herself.  We went up and down steps and ramps to wait our turn.  We went through turnstyles (that was a challenge) and found our seats.  Elena tried to stop without using people as "handles", trying to not lean on them for support (and did a fantastic job).  Elena rode kiddie rides with Vivian, and Viv waited for Elena to catch up to her on playgrounds.  Annette and I tried to keep the kids cool and hydrated--and we even got to ride a few rides, too!!  (But I don't have pictures of them!)
Spray Ground.  I didn't want to get wet, but Viv and E wanted to there you go.

E loved this (she's right of me in the pic) (Thanks Annette for getting this picture!)

Carousel Kids

Viv loves Elmo!
Big Bird

And you know what else?  Elena never lost her form.  She never crumpled in a heap on a chair, or fell over in a large seat that was made for bigger people.  She always sat up, no matter the time of day.  She was alert and focused.

Elena used her crutches to get to different rides within a reasonable radius--and other times, she just walked there without them.  There was a kiddie roller coaster in Sesame Place that Viv could ride with me  She was SO EXCITED!!

Viv's First Roller Coaster!

Elena waited in line with her friend A.  And for the first time EVER, she rode a big kid ride with a friend--NOT a grown-up.  They waited in line together--E even got in the car by herself.  

This is a big deal

I saw the roller coaster take off--and both of them looking at each other...just two friends, on an adventure.  The most ordinary thing in the world, right?  Not for us--it was extraordinary.  And that wasn't the only ride, either, that they rode together.  I almost cried.  

What a farewell to summer vacation.  To the R family, and Annette, thank you so so very much for making this day possible for our family!


Anonymous said...

Wow, this is fabulous! So excited for Elena and her developing independence.


Mo said...

Elena rocks. Period.

Big brother, Little sister. said...

Lovely to find your blog x amazing moment indeed doing something so many take for granted x your girls are both beautiful x

Cerebral Palsy Family Network said...

What a fun day! It sounds like a success in every way. Your pictures are precious - what a cute couple of girls. If you're interested in getting involved with a community of families affected with CP or sharing your story with them, check out Cerebral Palsy Family Network. It's a great organization that shares CP stories from all walks of life!