Derrick was invited to spend last Friday night at "Dreamnight at the Zoo." When I read his invitation I was a little taken aback when I saw "Dreamnight at the Zoo...for chronically ill and disabled children and their families." Wow. I have a chronically ill/disabled child?
From the time we found out about D's special heart, we vowed we would give him a life that was as normal as possible. For us, that meant not dwelling on his "disabilities" and instead giving him the same experiences we would if he were a whole hearted little guy (as long as they're safe for him of course). Don't get me wrong, I've said many silent prayers as people cough nearby and gotten very upset when people bring their children (or themselves) around D knowing they are or possibly may be sick. But for the most part, we're pretty level-headed (at least I think so!). I say all of this to say, reading the Dreamnight invitation was a little knock back into reality for me....but I was super excited to check it out!
Can't you see how excited Derrick was?
Ok...quick bad parenting story...
When we arrived at the zoo, we realized that Derrick had no shoes. Until recently this wasn't a problem (which is why we forgot of course), but being the new walker he is, we knew he wouldn't ride around in the stroller all night. He was going to have to have shoes. So Derrick and Justin went inside and I high-tailed it to Baby Depot to find D some shoes. You can see in this picture that waiting for his slack mama was less than thrilling! Ha!
We ran into one of D's heart girls, Evie, and her adorable family,
watched some singing,
and had our picture taken.
We visited the brand new kangaroo exhibit that you can walk through,
(look closely to see the baby roo)
(look closely to see the baby roo)
watched the gorillas play with their food,
and were entertained by the elephants as they worked together to break sticks.
D had his first ICEE,
flirted with people as we waited in line,
and enjoyed a yummy fudge popsicle.
While we were eating it started pouring down rain so D had a chance to try out his new shoes on the dance floor. (I was looking for quick and cheap...not cute.)
He had a good time grooving to the music!
After waiting out the worst of the storm, we decided to make a run for it.
Once we'd made it back to the entrance, we decided to let D have a little more fun.
Walking in the rain is a lost art...
One that our man sure appreciates!
The rain can put an end to outings pretty quickly sometimes, but for this guy, it made it even better!
We said a soggy good-bye to the Chick-fil-a cow
and an awesome night at the zoo!
It really was an amazing evening. Riverbanks Zoo, Palmetto Richland Children's Hospital, and lots of businesses truly made that a dream night for us and I'm sure for many families. Everything...the tickets, food, ICEEs, ice cream, entertainment, hula lessons, face painting, make-up parties with princesses...everything was free. For many families who have a chronically ill or disabled child, a trip to the zoo, something we do often and take for granted, would be impossible without a night like this.
It was very humbling to look around at all of the families; thinking about how much they probably went through to give their child this special night, much less what they face on a day-to-day basis. It really made me appreciate our life even more. Even if it means our perfect child can also be called chronically ill or disabled.
To end D's Dreamnight, Justin insisted we find him his dream best friend...