Every week since he was 6 weeks old, Knightly received in-home therapy from an awesome organization called United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County. We are so thankful to these people for the care and love we’ve received and were honored to be able to share some love and Knightly’s story for their 60th anniversary.
Hear Knightly and our story
(Skip to 2:19 in the video to go directly to our story)
Congratulations and happy anniversary to UCP of Orange County for their amazing 60 years of impacting families and lives like ours! We love you guys <3
NOW! ONTO Flying Elephants!
Ok, so I hated the movie Dumbo as a kid.
It felt slow.
I didn’t get the big deal about his ears.
And WHAT was with that drunk elephant song?!
So David’s building up his Disney blu-ray collection for “when Knightly is old enough to watch” (so he says) and he forced me to sit down and give Dumbo another chance.
…and the movie won me over (seriously moved both David and I to tears).
(By the way, for those who haven’t seen the movie – this is a total SPOILER Alert)
From the struggle to have a baby to having a precious child with special needs this movie just felt so incredibly relatable.
Dumbo opens up with a precious scene of storks carrying these babies to their animal parents. It’s ridiculously cute…just reminds us of the moment we got to hold Knightly for the first time.
(Images are courtesy of Walt Disney’s Dumbo)
One woman in particular, Mrs. Jumbo, excitedly peeks over as every parents gets to hold their baby and waits eagerly for her own. You know that gut-wrenching feeling when you so BADLY wish for something you see everyone else is getting?
But no special delivery comes.
Time passes and she settles into sadness thinking a baby’s never coming.
And just like how so many of the best things come after you’ve given up on the idea of it coming…she gets to be surprised with her own precious little bundle of joy.
Everyone oohs and ahhs over him and, as they’re checking out all his adorable features, he happens to sneeze and POOF – out pops these ears.
Everyone else starts to point and laugh. She’s horrified as people laugh at her precious one and tells her that instead of calling him by his name (Jumbo Jr.) he ought to be called, “Dumbo”.
And the name sticks.
And, you know, you hear the word dumbo and you think, eh, just some put down phrase used by little kids.
But my mind automatically thought of the term “retarded”.
Now I get every kid gets teased – it’s almost a rite of passage. Those moments were not fun times.
But there’s that gut wrenching pain of already knowing how your child might get teased and limited by and how a special circumstance or limitation someone is born with is such a unanimously used blanket insult and put down.
Even now, when people jokingly throw around the term saying “oh you’re retarded” or “oh that’s retarded”, I admit it hurts. Being on the other side, I totally get that 99% of the time people aren’t actually making fun of people with Down Syndrome or who are actually diagnosed as mentally retarded. But it’s the idea that when you want to put something, anything, down, just slap the word “retard” on it.
On behalf of our baby and for other families with special needs, please help us stop the use of the “r” word.
back to Dumbo
Dumbo doesn’t get how his ears look funny. But everyone just keeps pointing it out, laughing, and limiting him by them.
In an effort to protect him, his mom punishes a kid who started laughing and pulling at him repeatedly. As a result, she goes to elephant prison and Dumbo has to make it on his own.
After a particularly rough night, Dumbo’s buddy Timothy takes him to his mom who finally gets to hold him again after the longest time.
And this is when the tears wouldn’t stop. Because I realized I had actually been singing this song to Knightly at every naptime.
Baby mine, don’t you cry
Baby mine, dry your eyes
Rest your head close to my heart
Never to part, baby of mine
Little one when you play
Don’t you mind what you say
Let those eyes sparkle and shine
Never a tear, baby of mine
If they knew sweet little you
They’d end up loving you too
All those same people who scold you
What they’d give just for
The right to hold you
From your head to your toes
You’re not much, goodness knows
But you’re so precious to me
Cute as can be, baby of mine
Dumbo is teased, underestimated and undervalued…just because of his ears.
He isn’t supposed to be like that.
Everyone else had “normal” features.
But then there’s the good ole twist (in Disney and really in life), that what was seen as his weakness because it was a “difference” became the opportunity for a rare strength:
He could fly.
So what’s your story?
What is it in your life that you feel limited by?
What have you been teased about?
What’s something that makes you different that may actually be an opportunity or a rare strength?
On this journey of understanding what “normal” is, what “valuable” means, we’ve met so many along the way who’ve shown us that “different” didn’t mean “less valuable”. Just different (see Down Syndrome Myths and Truths in our World Down Syndrome Day shoot).
And that we need to get over and move past the limitations that we put on people, and EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY, on ourselves
So just as how we were for our baby boy and for ourselves after watching the movie…
May you be encouraged to believe in flying elephants, in the lives of others, and especially in your own.
A final thought from the movie:
Here’s to flying elephants!
With our love,
The Parks (and baby Knightly)
P.S. Stay tuned to our first wedding photography workshop to be announced: What’s Stopping You?