As usual, there is much to be learned at the Texas Bandmasters' Association Convention. The first of many lessons this weekend is that not all hotel wireless is created equal! But hopefully last night was a hiccup of sorts, and today will be much better. So far so good!
Our TBA trip has turned into our annual summer trip to Morgan's Wonderland. It's only open in the summer and it's a little more than three hours away from us, so we go when we can.
The sculpture is the first thing visible when you enter, and every time it sends tears to my eyes and chill bumps to my arms.
Why? Because we struggle. It doesn't look like we do, but we do. Different hard. Out of routine is hard. And until you live in a life that is desperate for routine, it's not something you can understand.
We want to do things as a family. We wanted to be the family that always comes to convention together, shops together, plays together, and of course, hits the amusement parks together. But when you don't wait well, are a big risk for bolting and wandering, and have to have every route mapped by avoiding elevators, it's hard to figure out a fun outing that will truly be just that... fun.
Along came a pamphlet from our friend M, about a year ago, after the music educators' convention. It spoke of a place where we could ride, play, swing, and even drive without funny looks. Ryan can stim to his heart's content. If he bolts, it's still stressful, but that funny little bracelet is park-assigned, and it allows us to see where any of the kids are at any point.
We can ride the carousel and the train over and over, as long as there's not a line. And the operators are trained to understand that Ryan may have to take a while picking out his horse. They ask when we're ready, then start going 'round.
And it's not just for Ryan. Richie and Maelynn get to play, too. They get the same treatment as Ryan. After an entire year of giving up nap time and play time to take Ryan to therapy about fifty minutes away, and for all the hours they've logged sitting in the hall in front of the BARC, as much as they try to help their brother without knowing how amazing they are, it's a treat for them too.
It's someplace they can play and explore together, under the bright and beautiful Texas sun. It's a place where they always feel welcome and where they always belong. No one will look at their brother and glare, or make sidelong comments about behavior and discipline.
They all get to play.
They get to play alongside reminders, like the big swings made to hold entire wheelchairs, that no matter the difference, everyone needs a diversion. Everyone needs fun. All need a chance to recreate, to refresh, to giggle, to run free of the eye of the social cues and unspoken standards.
A place where they can stroll, hand in hand, with not much to worry about other than where to go next.
We love Morgan's Wonderland for so many reasons. But I think the number one reason is that it feels like someone gets it. Someone gets what it's like to be different, and to desire so deeply to do something fun and out of the ordinary, but to be held into place by limitations. Whether your limitations are physical, emotional, mental, neurological, or otherwise, this is a place to belong. To let down the hair you otherwise keep tied tight, to let go and let them run a little.
If you have a child with special needs or know someone who does and haven't visited, and are anywhere close to the San Antonio area, you've got to go. It's a couple hours of wonderful that you won't regret.
Thanks be to God for the opportunity to do cool stuff like this!