“Yes, salagadoola means
But the thing -a- mabob that does the job
Is bibbidi-bobbidi-boo” – Lyrics to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo
Little known fact: I played Cinderella in my sixth grade elementary school play. (The fact that sixth grade was still considered elementary school gives you a clue as to my age.) I lit up that cafeteria dancing an amazingly stiff waltz with a boy who was only marginally more uncomfortable than me, and I sang an animated ballad with classmates wearing fuzzy mouse ears. But, my favorite part of the show was when the fairy godmother appeared on stage to sing her song. I was whisked off, part way through her solo, for a hurried wardrobe change in the pink tiled 1980’s public school bathroom. Leaving behind the rags of a servant, I magically emerged on stage, at the end of her song, transformed into a gown-clad, banana-clip sporting princess! Bibbidi bobbidi boo! It was Oscar worthy.
Childhood nostalgia is definitely part of reason I love the story of Cinderella, but the older I get, the more I love the tale because it reminds me of Jesus: THE Prince who isn’t recognized for His true worth. These are the gripping biographies of persons who lived lives of servanthood. Mistreated and misunderstood. Not loved and valued for the jewels they are inside. Bearing names that speak to both their pasts and their futures (Cinder [Ashes] – Ella [Beauty]; Jesus the Son of God [Savior – King]). Not recognized as royalty, although that is their truest essence. Until, that is, the end: when there’s a wedding feast and the King’s true love is revealed and transforms everything.
My daughter’s battle with epilepsy is like that story too. She was trapped into a life of servitude to a condition that shows no mercy. Seizures mistreat her and rob her of what normal kids take for granted, of what once was hers. A compassionate, faith-filled jewel of a girl inside, what many people see when they get time with her are the cruel task-masters of seizures and medicinal side effects: anxiety, fear, shortness, anger, confusion, sadness. Her rags. And like Cinderella, some nights, when the losses are too great and the cruelty too harsh, she cries in her “courtyard” wondering why, with not enough faith left to believe in miracles. But, her father and I choose to believe that her future heritage lives within her name too. Mercy: a cry for help; a pardon from pain, a compassionate benevolence.
But, I’ll be honest, none of these thoughts were on my mind as we rushed back to the van in the Epcot parking lot (read about our first morning at Epcot here), ate the cold gluten-free pizza we’d packed from the amazing Village (read about our first night at GKTW Village here and here), and executed a hurried wardrobe change from shorts and a tee into Mercy’s Tinkerbell dress for her boutique makeover. All I could concentrate on was: The. Next. Thing. (I know you hear me fellow mothers!) I was frantically trying to get my phone’s park app GPS to kick in, as Dan drove us toward Disney Springs. Long story short: GPS can not always be relied upon. We ended up parking in what turned out to be the the furthest parking garage from the BBB Boutique. Then, our tired, sick child who’s seizures were compounded by exhaustion, hiked with us – for what felt like miles – through the entire length of Disney Springs – in the rain – to the boutique. We were all sweaty, wet and whipped when we opened the door to this spa and saw the foyer packed with little girls and their parents.
There was no place to sit. There was barely any place to stand. On the way, Dan had noticed a closer parking garage. Concerned for Mercy’s health, after dropping us off, he immediately headed back, rolling a lethargic PJ in his stroller, to our van parked far away. He was going to move it to the closer garage so Mercy wouldn’t have to walk as far when her spa makeover ended. Mercy and I waited in line, and I tried to point out the pretty chandeliers and mosaics of castles as we waited. The wait was long. No one offered a seat. Probably only the staff realized she was a Wish Child.
When Mercy was finally called back for her appointment, I was relieved. There were plush velvety couch seats available! In no time, Mercy was called into a special room where she met with one of the fairy-godmothers-in-training and something truly magical happened, which I’m sworn to secrecy about. So sorry, there’ll be no dishing on that. I will tell you that Mercy was VERY enchanted and excited.
Though sworn to secrecy about that aspect of the visit, I will, however, embarrass myself and tell you about my emotional breakdown. Listen readers, I have been through a lot in life in general. I have no idea why this particular moment was the proverbial straw that broke…But. It. Was. After her magical encounter in the special room, Mercy and I went back to the velvety couches to await her call back to the makeover area. At that time, a clerk at a back window called my name. When I approached, she whispered that my child’s makeover had not been paid for yet, and how would I like to proceed?
I was confused. This appointment had been made through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and like every other aspect of her vacation, I’d been assured it was financially covered. After explaining this to the clerk a couple of times, she inevitably called a manager to help us work through the confusion. The manager repeated the clerk’s assertion that it wasn’t a pre-paid service, and I’d need to pay now. (In well-rested hind sight, this should have been absolutely no big deal. MAW sent us with a stipend of money to cover food and incidentals, and they’d intended we use that stipend for this visit as well. It just hadn’t been spelled out that way, so this expense was a surprise to me.) As I handed over my credit card for an unknown-to-me bill total, I couldn’t keep the tears at bay. This resulted in the manager becoming extremely apologetic over the confusion, and me trying to allay her concerns by explaining my tears weren’t really about this bill so much as they were about the missing limo, sleep deprivation, my feverish son, my seizing, exhausted daughter hiking through the rain to this appointment, extra security checks, malfunctioning photo cards, children with cancer, and my husband missing this special moment altogether while in search of a van. Normally an introvert, I rarely share frustrations and heartaches with total strangers, but that’s what came out. It was not my finest moment, but thankfully one I executed in a whisper, with my back to my daughter.
I am not sorry it happened. Because, as is often the case in our lives, that moment of sorrow and vulnerability with the compassionate manager of the BBB Boutique was the catalyst that changed our up-until-then stressful Disney experience into a magical one. As I pulled myself together and apologized for the umpteenth time for downloading that on her, the manager whispered, “I am going to do something special for your daughter, sweetheart. You go sit with her. I’ll tell you later what I’m going to do.” I was grateful for her kindness, but now I felt more guilty. I REALLY didn’t want to imply ANYTHING more needed to be done for my child! I was just trying to explain where my tears were coming from…the pent up experiences of our past 24 hours. I urged her that anything extra was really, truly unnecessary, but she shushed me and shooed me toward the couch.
Mercy had no idea anything had happened. She was dreaming about fairy godmothers, princess hairdos, magic wands and sparkles. In no time at all, the manager returned and introduced us to her “best fairy-godmother-in-training”. This sweet young lady was a breath of fresh air into my tired heart. She took Mercy by the hand and began a non-stop monologue about her experiences with the princesses, as she led Mercy back to a spa room full of other little girls and their fairy godmother makeover artists.
I don’t think Mercy stopped smiling for one second while she was in that room, in that beautician’s chair. Mercy’s fairy godmother quizzed her on princess facts, as she slicked her hair back into a bun with “jellyfish gel” gifted to her by Ariel, and decorated it with “fairy dust” sparkles gifted by Tinkerbell. Meanwhile, a Disney photographer took great photos of the entire process and uplinked them to our now-working photo account. After Mercy’s nails were polished, and her tiara was in place, she was gifted a BBB backpack filled with beauty treasures, as the manager walked in and presented her with an authentic Disney Parks doll of her favorite princess: Rapunzel. Then, the manager led the way as Mercy’s fairy godmother in training explained that she had a very special surprise for Mercy: a photo shoot, by herself, with a carriage, similar to Cinderella’s, which had been transformed from a pumpkin. Mercy was entranced and shocked, as she walked into the small, dimly lit room and saw the set-up just for her. I was in tears. (This was quickly becoming a theme for the week, and I was starting to embrace it.) After her magical photo shoot, Mercy was escorted out to a waiting wheelchair, where another fairy godmother in training drove her down to a separate photo area: but not before I’d hugged that manager goodbye and prayed God would bless her for her kindness.
As I texted Dan, and tried to give him land-mark directions of what stores and attractions we were passing to get to the photo studio, our gorgeously transformed princess-Mercy sat, beaming and relaxed, resting in her wheelchair. My heart was full. Pulling into the photo studio, the photographer greeted Mercy as “Princess”and bowed. Dan and PJ arrived, even more tired and sweaty. But, that didn’t stop us from getting family photos with our sweet made-over princess. At the end of the photo shoot, the photographer took me to a counter to choose my two favorite photos of Mercy. They printed them immediately, put them into a decorative frame, along with a photo of Cinderella’s castle, then encased those in an envelope with four of my other favorite photos: a package I’m sure I would have had to pay sweetly for, had this not been a gift from the manager. A doll, a backpack, professional photos, a made-over princess, a much-needed wheelchair, two tear-filled parents, and a nap-deprived toddler were sent smilingly on our way.
What a long way we’d come in just a day: From a morning on the floor of our condo in the Village battling terror-filled cluster seizures to an afternoon with a transformed Princess sparkling in delight, no-less dramatically changed parental hearts singing at her side. PJ’s fever had broken and the rain showers had passed, letting warm sun rays shine down on our renewed day. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo, indeed.
I’ll never be Mercy’s fairy godmother, though I may often wish for a magic wand to whisk away her tears. I’ll never transform the ashes of her life with epilepsy into the beauty of life with royalty. But, I know the future King who will. Until that day, I will teach her to “Have Courage and Be Kind”, because KINDNESS is magical.