Thursday, May 28, 2009

Queen Teen Goes to Disneyland

What an enchanting adventure that was! Queen Teen's first trip to Disneyland! It turned out far better than I had imagined. I expected her to be fearful and need to take frequent breaks, but instead Queen Teen pushed herself onward, eager to stay and explore.

We had help from my dear friend Tama and her daughter, Boo-Bug. There is no way I could have managed this trip without her. She's a real Disney fan (even has an annual pass), so she knew where to go in the park and how to get the best deals. She drove us all the way to LA, arranged the lodging, got the passes to the park and to Ariel's Grotto, and held on to Queen Teen when I needed a bathroom break. Tama, you are my hero!

On the first day, Queen Teen wore her baby-blue princess dress and got her hair done up like Cinderella at the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique. We explored Fairy Tale Land and then at 11:30 went to Ariel's Grotto for lunch. I knew Queen Teen was nervous because she gripped the brakes of her wheelchair and hardly looked up from her lap. But when I asked her if she was alright she loudly said, "Yes." She was determined to be in Disneyland, so she kept her agoraphobia in check and insisted she was fine.

In Ariel's Grotto we met Ariel, Snow White, Aurora, and Belle. Then Queen Teen met her hero, Cinderella. She was so excited she couldn't stand up. I helped her up and Cinderella wrapped her arm around Queen Teen's waist to support her. Cinderella knew immediately how to interact with Queen Teen, speaking clearly and leaning in closer for Queen Teen to see her face. Queen Teen just kept grinning.

We were at Disneyland two and a half days, staying at the California Grand Hotel because it was closest to the park and easiest for Queen Teen if she needed a break. Happily, we didn't need to worry. Queen Teen took a deep breath and plunged in, excited to be there, happy to explore, and genuinely having a great time. She even went on a few rides.

I was surprised she wanted to go on a ride. I was waiting for the panic attacks, the shouts of fear as she begged to get off. But she wanted to do go on a ride at Disneyland, so she allowed the staff to help her and then sat beside me, gripping my arm like a vice. She rarely looked up at the scenery, instead staring down at her lap, concentrating on the sensation of movement and the need to keep her fear at bay. We chose mellow, relaxing rides, the ones without any drops, spins, or fast movement. First she rode It's a Small World, sitting up high in her wheelchair on the boat, looking like a homecoming queen as she stared at the animatronic puppets, unsure of what they were. She also rode through Story Book Land but wouldn't look up at the miniatures so I had to describe them as we went by. On Jungle Adventure, she laughed when the robot elephant splashed the boat and a few drops landed on her head. The Train seemed boring to her, but driving a car in Autopia was much more challenging. When she drove, she steered wildly but wouldn't look up to see where she was going. "Driving hurts my hands," she declared when it was over.

Mostly we wandered the park, stopping to examine the flowers and statues. And we met characters; now she knows who Micky Mouse and Minnie Mouse are, as well as Alladin, Chip and Dale, and Brother Bear.

I pushed her wherever she wanted to go and got tearful several times. I was so happy to be there with her, so thrilled that we were able to make another dream come true. There is nothing more wonderful in the world than my daughter smiling.

I was so impressed with the staff of the park and how well they worked with Queen Teen. They knew exactly how to help her feel comfortable, from speaking loudly to assisting her on the rides. The terrain of the park is primarily level and easy to navigate in a wheelchair, despite the crowds, and most of the rides are accessible. Disneyland is perfect for people with disabilities, more so than any other amusement park I've ever seen. For a teen-girl dressed like a princess in a wheelchair, it was heaven.

On the last morning we took one more stroll around the park before leaving. After lunch I said, "It's time to go now."

She smiled and said, "That's okay." Then she looked thoughtful. "Mom."


"Can we come back next year?"

"We'll see what we can do."

Darling girl, if there is anyway I can make it happen, I will bring you back to Disneyland next year.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Image from Coloring Page for

Tomorrow, Queen Teen and I go to Disneyland. We're meeting my dear friend Tama and her youngest daughter Boo Bug and then driving together to LA where we will explore all that is Disneyland. Cinderella is a top priority.

This is Queen Teen's first trip to the "happiest place on Earth." I haven't been since high school, and most of my memories are about making out with my then boyfriend. We're not a very Disney family. I have friends who are total Disney devotees, but I've always been a bit blase about Mickey Mouse and his friends. Disney. Whatever. I like Pixar better.

Queen Teen hasn't shown much interest either, except for Cinderella, and her aversion to amusement parks and loud crowds didn't inspire me to attempt a very expensive trip to a place she'd hate. But last summer she began asking me about Disneyland. What is it? Where is it? Do they really have Cinderella there?

My daughter loves Cinderella the way some girls her age worship Hannah Montana.

At the beginning of this year, I decided to take the plunge. I set aside some of my student loan and started making plans. When I told Queen Teen we were going she almost fell over. She laughed and clapped her hands and shouted "Disneyland!"

Happily, my friend agreed to come with me. There was no way I could take Queen Teen to Disneyland by myself and Rick REALLY didn't want to go. He would if he had to, but he didn't relish an all things Princess day at Disneyland. Somehow I can't really see him there. Instead it will be us four girls embracing our inner Princesses on a quest to meet Cinderella.

I am so excited!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Does Everyone Go to The Doctor?

Yesterday, Queen Teen and I walked with Rick to his appointment at the eye doctor, enjoying the beautiful California spring time weather. We took our time and stopped at flower gardens where we smelled roses and touched their wide, soft petals. At the doctor's, Rick went inside and Queen Teen and I walked another block to the cafe to wait for him. We got Italian Sodas and chatted about how excited she is to be going to Disneyland (she's never been).

Then she asked, "Where did Rick go?"

"He's at the eye doctor's getting his eyes checked."


"Because the doctor is making sure his eyes are healthy and if he needs new glasses."

She thought about this for a moment, then asked, "But why does the doctor have to check his eyes?"

"Everyone goes to the eye doctor for an eye checkup. It's important to keep our eyes healthy." I looked at her carefully as she stared at me. "Did you know that everyone goes to the eye doctor?"

She shook her head. "No."

"Yes. Everyone goes. Even me. And everyone goes to the dentist for a check-up and a cleaning, AND we all go to the doctor for a check-up. Everyone even gets shots sometimes. And sometimes we have to get our blood drawn for tests. You're not the only person who has to go to the doctor, sweety."

"I'm not?" She seemed surprised.

"No! Not at all. Everybody has to go to the doctor sometimes, not just you."

She grinned. "Oh." Then she drank her soda, looking very pleased with the idea that EVERYONE has to be examined by a doctor now and then.

This was another one of those moments that showed me how much of the world Queen Teen misses. She honestly believed she was the only person in the entire world who has to go to the doctor, except for the few kids she sees at clinics. The ONLY person who has ever had to have her blood drawn, or her brain and eyes and ears examined.

And why shouldn't she think that? She doesn't really know any other people with disabilities and doesn't know anyone who goes to the doctor as often as she does.

How did she miss this fact of life? How did I not show her going to the doctor is normal for everyone. It's just one of those facts we don't think about, because it just IS.

For Queen Teen, nothing is as simple as just IS.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Original Five Things I Love About Being a Mom

I found the originator of the Motherhood Meme.

Check out Her Bad Mother for the post that explains it all, as well as to read a new, funny mama blog.

This was my first meme, and I really loved the idea that all us Mama's are connected through our devotion to our children and our love of blogging.

I had a lovely Mother's Day. Slept in, got my traditional, once a year breakfast in bed, went for a long walk with my hubby, daughter and dog, then went to a play that afternoon (saw Agatha Christie's Mouse Trap at the Ukiah Player's Theatre. Great acting and the set was amazing, especially when you consider this is a small, local theatre with a microscopic budget).

I hope all you Mama's had a lovely weekend too, regardless of whether or not you live where there is an "official" Mother's Day. Every day is a day to acknowledge the work and devotion of motherhood everywhere!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Grad School and Mommy Guilt

It amazes me how much I can do. I'm a mother in graduate school who owns a small business. Those three things compete for my time and energy. Right now school has to take top billing because it's the end of the semester and I have finals and papers due. For this, I feel guilty. My daughter should be the top priority, and of course she is, but my time is spent writing research papers and studying for tests, not taking her for walks or playing games.

I hate that, and it makes me wonder if I've made the right choice going back to school.In the long run, it will be very, very good for my family. But right now, I am putting two years of my life, of her life, into classwork. I am focusing on the outcome and my future earnings potential. What about today?

It will be worse this summer when I go to summer school. I am taking two classes in a short, five week, semester, which I know is insanity, but if I have to go down to the bay area for several days, I might as well take two classes and get it over with. I'll be gone all week, only home on the weekends, and even then I'll more than likely need to lock myself in my room to read textbooks.

And now to make it more interesting, I'v lost my childcare. We had an amazing respite worker, a young woman full of energy and creativity that Queen Teen bonded with and started to call "friend." She moved, so now we're without child care and Queen Teen lost her friend. She's sad and I'm stressed. Will I find anyone before summer semester starts? And how will Rick and Queen Teen get along when I'm gone all week?

My business is the lowest priority, which is unfortunate, especially since I launched a book and now have zero time to market it. I throw receipts into a folder, respond to emails and phone calls half-heartedly, and haven't updated my inventory since January. Pretty ironic when I just wrote a book about how important it is to manage your publishing company like a business. Yeah, yeah... I'll do that later.

My own writing? Forget it. If I'm not reading a text book I'm spending time with my girl. Something had to go and it couldn't be sleep.

Queen Teen just rolls with it. On Tuesdays I put her on the bus and wave goodbye because I won't see her until the next day. At first she was sad, now she just waves back and tells me "see you tomorrow." When she gets off the bus Wednesday afternoon she smiles so big her whole body shakes. It only takes a day for me to miss her. I dread this summer.

Why do mothers beat themselves up for being away from their children?

Here I am, "wasting time" blogging. I'd better get off the net and finish my paper. Sorry I've been so out of touch, everyone. I'll read your posts asap. I really do love reading what you write.