The Pony Ride That Didn't Happen

Today I wanted special treatment. We had spent the day getting ready for the week all to end the day with Holiday Lights at the Zoo. We have done this before but this year was special, this year we had all five kids. I really want to make this year magic as we have one on the cusp of not believing and another who is just learning to relish in the beauty of the twinkling lights and anticipation of Santa. This year I will not sit back and allow my house or my chores to get in the way of making memories.

Without knowing where they were going, the kids got ready and headed into the car. As they did, I prepped travel mugs of hot cocoa and marshmallows, a rare treat in this house. I gathered pajamas so that the little 3 would be ready for bed long before their heads hit the pillow and asked one of the girls to round up hats, gloves and scarves for all.

An hour after setting off we pulled into the parking lot and the kids remembered their experiences there in years past and immediately they were excited to see what was to come. I couldn't wait. Princesses. Santa. Ponies. Lights. A train. I knew the night would be magic.

As we opened the car door, two of our kids announced they forgot jackets. Really? Now, most would let this roll off their back and I tried but two of my kids are continuously forgetting shoes and jackets and I was nearly in tears. With some quick thinking, I put the youngest in her bundled stroller, borrowed her jacket for the boy and then explained to the monkey in the middle she'd have to use her money to buy a sweatshirt. This was a learning lesson.

Not wanting to let the first mishap ruin the event, we went in and began our trek around this ever changing zoo. We loved listening as Seraphina announced each animal that we passed. We were overjoyed when a woman offered to take a family photo and after a quick potty break and stroller switcheroo, we saw the ponies.

A little back story is that Seraphina LOVES ponies. If I could afford riding for her, I would. Instead we get her pony rides when we can and follow it up with actually taking friends up on offers to sit on their horses and ponies too. One day I hope to have a horse we can share but for now, this has to do.

As we bought the ticket, she raced up to the gate, pointed to the little "white" pony and announced she would ride it. We had never done a zoo pony ride before so when they came over and scooped her up out of my arms, I quickly blurted out...oooohhhh wait she's autistic and with that she saw the stranger grab her and her face crumbled. The entire time, my husband stood dutifully videoing so she could watch her pony ride after it ended but that pony ride that we paid for never happened. I wanted more than anything to put her on the pony myself. I wanted to walk beside it. I told them that I had horse experience (and a lot of it) but nothing would allow me to go in and I understood but my heart didn't want to listen. I wanted to edge my way into the ring and get her on the pony. Instead, after three tries and a woman behind me telling me that "that thing may buck her off the way she's carryin on" we left. And I cried.

Today was one of those days I wanted special treatment. How I wished there was someone there who had experience with kids like Serrie. How I wished I could give her the ride she wanted to have. As I placed her gently back into her stroller she sobbed, tears streamed down her face and she asked where her white pony went?

Serrie didn't get her pony ride though she asked about it later. I was however able to give the joy to another child as her parents were walking past, I offered our ticket. The mom took it and I quickly shared the story...sometimes I realize in these moments the best I can do is make life better for someone else because in doing that, I feel better too.

These moments are not ones I can prepare for. I certainly learn to be more prepared in all these experiences but nothing can prepare someone for some of the heartache that comes along with not being able to help your child.


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