A few years ago I was treating my mom to a soft pretzel at Wetzel’s Pretzels, located in Downtown Disney. What happened while waiting in the queue, will stick with me forever.
While deciding whether I should get a buttery salted classic or a bit of a pepperoni number, I heard a soft voice say, “What happened to your hands?”. I looked down and there stood a little girl, around 5 or 6. Her eyes curiously wide, awaiting my answer. With permission from her mother, standing near by, I told her that I was in a car accident which injured me and that was why I was in a wheelchair and that my hands were no longer able to open. With a short pause she looked at the golden tiled floor and in the same soft tone replied, “Oh”. She stood still there for a moment, hands in her pockets, sliding the front sole of her glitter sneakers along the floor. I was about to give my order when I hear a light gasp from her mother. I looked back at the little princess as she asked for a Disney Parks shopping bag from her mother. The little girl loudly said “My hands are different too”, as she pulled out a Little Mermaid Ariel doll and began to tell me all about it. I noticed both of her daughters hands were not fully developed. Her mother was beginning to tear up. I was then told that her daughter had always hid her hands in her pockets, but in that moment she was pulling her days gifts out without hesitation. The whole shop had went completely quite. I interacted with her, commenting on her Ariel doll, trying my absolute hardest not to cry. Overwhelmed with emotion, tears pilled up and when I looked up it wasn’t just me, her mother and two shop employees were sniffling and wiping eyes. The mother then told her daughter, with a cracked voice, it was time to collect their pretzels and head home. She knew if they didn’t start to head out then that whole shop would of been a sobbing mess. Her daughter gave me a quick hug and skipped off, hands out of her pockets.
Ever since that day I always tell young curious minds who ask, the truth. Before I would sugar coat depending on the age of the child. I still tear up every time I re-tell this story. We were at the happiest place on earth and created a moment that changed a little girls life… Gave her a confidence she never had. A confidence that resonated with all of us there.
We all left a better self then when we woke up that day, and that is a beautiful thing.