I was driving up the M1 recently with my wife alongside me. We had been on our journey about an hour and had been chatting about the day and what tomorrow might hold when suddenly a voice shouted from the back seat of the car, "Look at the sky - it's orange Juice flavour!"
The voice belonged to our youngest daughter Emily. Emily is 20 years old and has Down's syndrome.
Until that point of the journey Emily had, as usual, been completely absorbed by the music on her iPod. She rarely gets distracted by anything in such circumstances. However, on this occasion Emily was so taken with the beautiful September sunset that she had to draw our attention to it.
Immediately we looked and saw what was a sensational bright orange sky which seemed to colour the length of the western horizon and was stunning. Isn't it amazing that we adults often take such things for granted and it takes someone who the world would label as having a learning disability to point out the beauty in the simplest of things. I'm not sure Emily has a learning disability; I think she has a different way of learning to you and I and perhaps the things I need to learn are the things she already knows! However, it is so important that as parents we don't do all the teaching. We need to be prepared to learn from our children. We need to be prepared to be humble; we don't know everything. Our mindsets, preconceptions and perspectives all need to be challenged and redefined by the things we learn from each other.
I decided to start a blog, however basic, to capture some of the things I have learned, and will continue to learn, from Emily. By sharing them I hope that you are encouraged and as you and I travel along our own journeys, make sure you listen to the voice that shouting from the backseat and look at the sky.