“Life Lessons…one Disney Movie Line at a time.”
Many of you have probably heard about my son, Reagan. But I have another son, Jake, who is equally as special as Reagan but in his own way. In fact, Jake wanted to make his own grand entrance into the world which he did on Christmas Eve, a little earlier than expected.
Someone once described Jake as the type of kid you fall in love with immediately, and you want him to love you right back. I know I’m biased but I couldn’t agree more. He is a six year-old, All-American boy – good looking, smart, funny, well mannered (most of the time), and he’s sensitive to the needs of those around him.
Jake makes me laugh – a lot – even when I shouldn’t. One Christmas, we were grocery shopping and I was explaining to Jake what it means for fruits to be “in season” – or the reason why we can’t always get great blueberries. Having a ginormous sweet tooth, he picked up a big bag of candy canes that he wanted. I told him I wasn’t buying the candy canes. Without missing a beat, he said “But they’re in season.” Yep – I bought the candy canes.
Reagan is almost three years older than Jake, but Jake has had to grow up a little faster than most kids his age. I think this is true for kids who have an older special needs sibling. He helps me take care of Reagan’s needs, and he watches over his big brother. But the best thing Jake does is to treat Reagan as normal as possible. They’re laughing one minute and fighting the next. They wrestle on the floor and chase each other around.
Now that Jake is older, his friends are beginning to pay attention to the fact that he has a brother that is different. Jake is asked questions like, “He doesn’t walk very good, does he?” echoing what Thumper said to Bambi’s mother. He looks at his friends and says as a matter of fact, “He has Cerebral Palsy.” Most six year olds have no idea what that is and go on about their playing, but I know that as Jake continues to get older, he’s going to get more questions. It’s human nature to sometimes stop, stare, and ask questions that come out sounding the wrong way. But my heart swells with pride watching Jake handle things so maturely for a child his age.
There are times when I have to take care of Reagan’s needs first, but I do make sure to spend one-on-one time with Jake. We have our own dates, and make time to talk and do things that Reagan isn’t able to do yet. One of the things we both love to talk about is Disney. Jake is following in his Mom’s footsteps with his love of Disney (insert me squealing with joy here). He loves to look at Disney books, maps, and videos, and he helps me plan trips to Disney World. In addition to being a garbage man (because he really wants to ride on the back of the truck), Jake wants to work at Disney as a Monorail Pilot and as a grave digger in Mickey’s Boo-To-You Halloween Parade (he loves that they make sparks with their shovels).
Disney World is a great place to visit for children with special needs, but the Cast Members also make sure they pay special attention to siblings like Jake. I think they understand that brothers and sisters of special needs children sometimes feel left out. They are amazing to Jake, too, and never look over at Reagan and say, “He doesn’t walk very good, does he?” It truly is a magical place where we can leave our day-to-day lives behind and just enjoy life as a family.
Written by fellow Disney Mom & dear friend: Allison V. Allison is a proud member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel. She is not a Disney employee. The postings on this site are her own and do not necessarily represent Disney’s positions or opinions.