By Phyllis J. Lubin
Who would have thought that just one week ago I was wandering around town in 70-degree weather! The sun was shining, and we were feasting on our day-old Toddy’s bagels with cream cheese in beautiful Disney World. Not only were we basking in the sunshine, but we were celebrating my eldest daughter’s birthday. Disney supplied a birthday pin for the birthday girl, and the rest of us got to wear “We are celebrating” pins as well.
I am so glad that I was able to celebrate her special day with her in such a special way. Yussie, Lea, and Rochel, along with my eldest daughter (who continues to prefer to remain “nameless” in my columns) and I had a lovely respite in Orlando during the yeshiva break. Although my birthday girl graduated from college this past May, she has joined the ranks of the working world and spends her days in a Cahal class at HAFTR, hence her vacation mirrors Rochel’s and Lea’s. Sadly, Rivka’s Stern vacation does not coincide this year, my husband is busy working hard during his busy tax season, and my eldest son and daughter-in-law are also hard at work, but my eldest daughter was able to hear their birthday wishes via cell phone. Naftali, together with the grandparents, “FaceTimed” us as we were waiting for our plane to take off.
This was a special event: Yussie and Lea’s first time traveling on an airplane. We had prepared them well for their maiden voyage, and prayed that all would go well. Thanks to a prompt ride to the airport by Naftali, we made it through the security line rather smoothly. Yussie was all prepared with his shoes off and his jacket and belongings ready to be X‑rayed. I ran into a bit of a snag with one of my bags. After walking through the X‑ray machine myself, a kind TSA guard explained that I would need to join her as she reviewed one of my pieces of carry-on luggage. As she took apart its contents, she happened upon my unopened package of cream cheese. Who knew that would be a problem? She explained that I could go back out to before the security line to actually make the sandwiches on the bagels, but that I could not bring through an entire container of it through security. I cringed as I saw her throw out my brand-new TempTee whipped cream cheese into the garbage!
After that detour, we were ready to move on to the gate. Well, we were almost ready. Yussie plopped himself on the floor to put on his shoes, and decided that he wasn’t going to go any further. There is a myth that those with Down syndrome are easygoing. That is true, sometimes. When Yussie decides he is not doing something, it is a bit difficult to get him to change his mind, unless an authority figure tells him to. It usually works like a charm. And so I approached a TSA guard and explained that I needed his assistance. All he needed to do was explain to Yussie that he should stand up and walk with us to the gate.
“I’d rather not. I would feel bad.” Are you kidding me? I thought to myself. What’s to feel bad? I was not asking him to put Yussie in shackles! He just needed a little guidance. Without another thought I turned to my TSA friend who had thrown out our cream cheese and explained the situation. She didn’t feel “bad.” She understood, and told Yuss that it was time to stand up to go. And off he went! Traveling with a child with a special need can be trying at times, but with some understanding and patience, anything can work.
Somehow we made it to the gate, and thanks to “silent boarding” we were able to get on the plane in a quiet, simple fashion. When I booked the trip—thankfully we had enough JetBlue frequent-flyers for five free tickets—I discussed my fears of traveling with Yussie with a kind JetBlue representative. She explained that we were eligible for silent boarding, which would get us on the plane prior to anyone else boarding. In addition, she was able to seat us in the second and third rows of the plane, so that not only would we have extra room, but Yussie would be less overwhelmed by not having to walk through the entire plane to be seated. What a wonderful experience we had!
Upon our arrival, we found our rental car without too much anxiety. Thankfully, our bright-red Dodge Caravan was waiting for us. With various discounts we found on the Web, our minivan through E-Z Rent-A-Car was truly “easy” and only $20 more than the compact car I had originally reserved. Thank goodness for that, because with five people and ten pieces of carry-on luggage, that original compact car just wouldn’t have worked!
As many of my readers know, driving is not my forte. Somehow I was able to navigate the roads of Orlando (thanks to Waze on my cell phone, and my daughters’ directional advice) to our timeshare. We rented a timeshare from an advertisement on the Five Towns Shuls online list. Thanks to our new Five Towns Shuls friend Michael, we had a lovely place to stay! The resort (Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort) had lazy rivers as well as swimming pools, hot tubs, and a couple of water slides. Every night, with the pool waters heated into the balmy 80s, we were able to go night swimming after our busy days of sightseeing. We packed a lot into our four-day trip! Monday evening we were able to spend our night at the Arabian Nights horse show. The horses and actors were truly amazing. It was a dinner show, and we were provided with kosher meals. The meals came piping hot and triple-wrapped with an acceptable kashrut seal. Our meals were both tasty and filling. There was even enough to bring home leftovers.
Tuesday was our day to celebrate at Disney World. Our hotel offered a free Disney shuttle. The trip there was probably longer than it would have been had we driven, but if I had an opportunity to not drive, while saving on the parking fee, we were taking the shuttle! We all reveled in meeting all the Disney dignitaries (of course including Mickey Mouse himself), and enjoyed the tamer rides.
The sun was shining just enough throughout our entire stay. We couldn’t have ordered more perfect weather! At times cool enough for a light sweatshirt, but mostly sunny skies.
Wednesday we embarked on a trip to SeaWorld. Again I ran into a snag getting my Lender’s bagels with cream cheese into the park, but after some explaining and justifying, we were able to enjoy these tasty treats in the park. We enjoyed the various shows—most specifically the dolphin show, which was quite special! Besides seeing that amazing sea life, we were able to enjoy rides at this park as well. We even took some pictures with Elmo (I am not sure of his connection to the sea, but we had fun seeing him nonetheless).
Thursday came rather quickly, and although we needed to vacate our rooms by 11:30 a.m., we were able to use the facilities the entire day. We enjoyed lounging by the pool, and Rochel, Lea, Yussie, and I took a trip around the entire lake of the resort and were able to view all the pools and resort amenities (miniature golf, playground, etc.). Orlando is surely a place that will be on my list of wonderful vacation spots to return to!
Thankfully, Lenny met us at the airport upon our return. But we were confronted with the cold temperatures. There is certainly something to be said for warmer climates. Looking out at the weather now, I sadly see too many clouds—here’s to hoping for some sunny days ahead! v
Phyllis Joy Lubin is an attorney with Maidenbaum & Sternberg, LLP, who resides in Cedarhurst with her husband, Leonard. They have six children: Naftali, Shoshana, Rivka, Rochel, Yosef, and Lea and a daughter-in-law, Nina. The author welcomes your questions and comments at MothersMusings@gmail.com.