We watch a lot of Disney Junior's Elena of Avalor at our house, and there is an episode that we have watched no less than 25 times: Model Sister.
The rallying cry of the episode is a song called "Sister Time." Here's the vid. Warning: It's extremely catchy. ("But Elena!!")
My girls really relate to the episode's theme: Sisters come first and are always top priority. Disney is really on a roll with this sister stuff...
Elsa was our first-born. (Two years before that other Elsa...) So when our daughters Cecilia and Lola (both typically developing) followed in short order, we hoped and prayed that they would have a deep, protective and nurturing love for Elsa. It's a prayer that God answered without delay. From day one, they have been in Elsa's corner.
Where Elsa goes, they follow. Not begrudgingly, not dutifully, but with happiness and joy.
That's why it's so apt that the receptionist at the front desk of Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital (our present therapy center) has given Cecilia and Lola the nicknames Happy and Joy. Most days, the names fit.
Cecilia and Lola LOVE going to Marianjoy. I thought they might despise the grind of traveling there twice a week, and waiting around for Elsa to complete her sessions. But the reality has been entirely the opposite. (Note: I have nothing to do with fashion choices you are about to observe.)
Here's are 5 reasons why the girls love it:
- The facility is connected by a labyrinth of passageways. Twice a week, Cecilia and Lola can be found skipping through the corridors, singing songs and listening to the echo of their voices.
- At check-in, there is a waterfall feature with smooth gray stones in the basin below. They love to touch the water wall and are always trying to steal stones (so that's a small problem).
- Jello. The Marianjoy cafeteria has jello in spades. Every time we go, there is a new flavor, topped with whipped cream. I split a jello cup between the two of them, and then we just sit and chat about what we see.
- Because Marianjoy is a rehab hospital, there are fun sensors that open doors with just a wave of the hand. Cecilia paves our way throughout the facility by waving the magic doors open for us.
- Probably most of all: They get mom's attention - divided not by 3, but by 2. It's not one-on-one time, but it does mean extra hugs, coloring practice and sticker book fun.
Here are 5 reasons why I'm a fan of Marianjoy sister time:
- As much as Cecilia and Lola love getting my attention, I love giving it.
- They bring SO much joy to the rehab patients, who light up when they see their carefree little faces.
- Again, jello - for the simple pleasure it gives my children, and for the 20 minutes of peace it affords me!
- Elsa is the focus of our trips. Whenever we visit, they are absorbing and accepting that their sister's needs are a high priority for our family, and that Elsa's thriving requires our time and dilligence.
- Probably most of all: Marianjoy helps people off all ages, races and ethnicities. There are children who have lost limbs. Adults with special needs whose words are hard to understand. Elderly folks in motorized wheelchairs and on gurneys. No one looks the same, or acts the same. Everyone is on their own journey, hopefully to improved health and function.
Out in the real world, facilities aren't overwhelmingly accommodating. People with physical needs don't blend in. But it's wonderful to have a place that gives our family such support, and gives Cecilia and Lola a special, private world in which they can explore and learn enormous life lessons.