|Jack-Jack five years ago. He would not let anyone cut his hair
so we did it while he was sleeping in sections!
While my heart hurt for this unknown couple, I also grieved for myself. My thoughts ranged from “that is going to be me in twelve years,” to “at least they saw part of a concert with their son.” I could not even imagine taking Jack-Jack to a concert, not then and not anytime in the future. He would never sit still even with M&M’s, and my days were filled with so much chaos that I couldn’t see past that moment.
My older children had opportunities and experiences that I was sure Jack-Jack would never have. One of the things I made sure to do with my older children were cultural events such as the symphony, plays and concerts. I knew that most of these types of events were out of the question with Jack-Jack.
Five years is a long time; Jack-Jack has come a long way. Most days I am hopeful that he will have a bright future. He still has difficulty sitting for any length of time, but I know that with each passing year, we have more and more “normal” experiences with him.
My husband and I try to go to our local symphony at least once a year. So as I was looking for some tickets to buy him for his birthday, I came across Disney’s Tale As Old As Time. It was being performed by The Youngstown Symphony Orchestra. Since Jack-Jack loves Disney, I figured this would be the time to take Jack-Jack and Dash. As we dressed and ate dinner, we talked about going to the symphony. We explained what it meant, and how one is expected to behave. We talked about having to sit in your seat and not talk. However, as much as we try to plan ahead of time, that doesn’t mean things will work out. Sometimes, in spite of the talks and planning, Jack-Jack has an unexpected melt down, and one of us spends time in corridors or bathrooms.
Tonight, from the moment the concert started, Jack-Jack had a smile on his face. He sat, watched and listened. There was a screen that played clips of Disney movies, and four extremely talented vocalists sang some of our favorite Disney songs. The orchestra was fantastic. I watched Jack-Jack periodically lean over to his dad and say, “This is from Bambi,” and “Now they are playing Beauty and the Beast.” As I watched, I cried. But this time, my tears were different. These were tears of joy and hope.
In these past five years, Jack-Jack has grown and matured. He still jumps around and has a hard time sitting still for very long. On Sunday mornings, it is rare to be able to sit through an entire church service. After the symphony tonight, I am contemplating asking the pastor to use Disney clips in his preaching. I am pretty sure we would be able to get Jack-Jack to listen to the sermon and have a greater understanding of what is being explained to him. You see Disney speaks to Jack-Jack’s soul in a way that I can’t even begin to explain. There are things he knows because he saw them in a Disney movie. He can find certain countries on a map because of Disney movies. He knows that the Eiffel Tower is in Paris. He knows how to spell and find letters on a keyboard. He can use Google, navigate YouTube, and use most electronics all because he wants to find out more about Disney. Jack-Jack knows about rides at Disney Parks in Tokyo, California and Paris that I have never heard of. He has learned about emotions, been given words to express himself, and lights up when he talks about Disney World, Disney movies, and Disney toys.