Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Soggy Sunday

Unusually we came up with the same thought for a day out, "Let's go to Whitby, we've not been there for ages."

That was ages ago so you can imagine our determination to fulfil on a long awaited day out even though the weatherman said it was going to huff and puff, and blow and snow, and rain and pour and heaven knows what else - plagues of locusts, frogs and seven years of famine I think they said.

So off we set, our hearts set and mouths drooling at the thought of probably the best fish and chips you could ever imagine (if you've not been to Whitby you're missing a trick). Well we'd not even made our first mile along a soggy dual carriageway before we realised that this was not going to be a pleasant journey and if the weather was as bad further north we were going to be making a big mistake. I looked at Sheron, Sheron looked at Laura, Laura looked at Mac, Mac looked at Emily and Emily looked like she couldn't care less quite frankly - she'd got her iPod - we could have been driving to the edge of Narnia and she wouldn't have batted an eyelid!

So we made a quick decision not to head north but to head for the woods - we'd planned a day out and we were jolly well going to have one come hell or high water......high water looked the more likely of those two it has to be said. "Let's go to Sherwood Forest." So we did. Thankfully not a lot on the road as most sensible folk were still in their dressing gowns, drinking tea, eating bacon butties and reading the Sunday papers. But not us. Oh no, we don't do things like that on a Sunday morning (see previous post).

As we stumbled into the gift shop at the visitor centre, dripping wet from walking 50 yards from the car park, we got chatting to June, the lady behind the counter. June was probably 60 something, very jolly and ready to sell any unsuspecting family a Robin Hood bow and arrow set before you could say "Little John". Unfortunately for June the only sales she was going to make from us was 4 mars bars and a Kendal Mint Cake (I figured this was an expedition and we needed supplies). There was nobody else in sight so June got stuck in, telling us about all the adventures she'd had at the visitor centre.

She told us how, a few years ago, a young Mexican lady, Maria, arrived at a Sherwood Forest event asking to see Russell Crowe. Maria had come all the way from Mexico specifically for this. Poor June had to explain that Russell wasn't around today but she felt so sorry for Maria that she gave up a few days and took her round the local tourist hot spots. That's what I love about Britain. If we could replicate June's generosity the world would be a much better place. No doubt Maria is back home in Guadalajara re-telling the same tale of how she was treated like a Queen by Russell Crowe's mother!

The rain never stopped. Not that that would stop Emily. She walked and sang all the way round the forest. She loves the rain. Always has. She'd come home from school some days and take her coat off and go and stand and dance in the rain in the back garden. That's how I want to live; being totally me and just not caring what anyone else thinks. There's so much we can learn.

Now, what's the weather forecast for Whitby next week?....................

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Rewind Sunday

(Cue music and the soulful balladeer that is Mr Lionel Richie) "Easy.......easy like Sunday morning......" - ahh Sunday morning bliss, tea and toast in bed, a leisurely read of the Sunday papers, a gentle breeze carrying the faintest hint of Spring on its wings as it wafts through an open window - this is the life........

Ok Lionel, you can take your lovely ballads and play them in someone else's fantasy land - Critchlow family Sunday mornings look a little bit more like......


Now, with a wife and two adult daughters at home you can imagine getting in the bathroom in a morning is far from "easy". Add to the equation that at the moment Laura's fiancé, Mac, is living with us and so it's a real bun fight for access to the shower. In fact, I'm seriously considering installing a ticket machine like they have at the deli counter in Morrisons! So what's the rush? here's time on a Sunday for us all right? Wrong! Church starts at 10.30am but there's nearly always one of us singing in the band so that means leaving home by 9.15am. This means that I usually manage to gain access to the bathroom at about 9.07am after everyone else and Lionel Richie is not playing in my head!

This morning I arrived downstairs to find Emily stood up at the kitchen counter stuffing her face with Chocolate Weetos (other breakfast cereals are available) because she knew she'd taken so long getting ready that she'd miss breakfast altogether unless she took the initiative (amazing how resourceful our young ones can be when they need to be!) We got into the car and began driving the 3 miles or so to church. At this point I should mention that everyone in the house (apart from me) has been, or still is, suffering from a horrible cough, cold virus which has kept most of us awake every night for the past week.

Well, half way into our journey Emily began to cough. It was the cough that all parents recognise, the cough that makes the all-too-accurate prediction that fairly shortly breakfast will be served (and not in a good way). You know where this is going don't you!

Cough, cough,cooouuuuggghhhhhhhh

I was unable to stop the car as we were on a winding country lane with no safe place to stop. Meanwhile the remains of what were once Chocolate Weetos were being spewed down on to Emily's seat, the floor, in the door pocket, etc, etc (I apologise if you're eating whilst reading this, I'm trying so hard to paint a picture without being too graphic but stick with me it is leading somewhere).

I dropped 3 off at church and immediately pulled out of the car park to take Emily home. At this point she began to cry because she loves church and did not want to miss guest speaker Pastor Brian. I promised if she seemed ok when we got home we'd come back after getting cleaned up. Emily cheered up immediately. I set about cleaning Emily, the car and then myself - in that order - and then, as we prepared to leave this house for a second time, Emily made an announcement as though she were the voiceover introducing the next programme on tv or directing a film:

"Emily - she's not sick - take 2" at which point she motioned her hands and arms as though collapsing a clapperboard, before announcing "Ok - rewind - aaaaaaannndd......roll the titles!"

Friday, 17 January 2014

Education, Cheap Cider and Redcurrant Sauce

It's Friday evening, the Critchlow house is alive in every room, I'm writing this in the study whilst simultaneously cooking tea in the kitchen (don't worry ladies, I'm not multi-tasking, I'm just flitting between two jobs and trying not to mess up both!), Laura and fiancé Mac are doing wedding prep stuff in the lounge whilst listening to music and Emily is in her room singing to something from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (of course)!

It's been a pretty tough week with lots of illness in the house, colds, coughing, spluttering, little sleep had by anyone really and most people off work or college (except me, I've been fortunate to avoid it (so far).

So you get to Friday evening and just want to chillax with a glass of red and a large bar of gorgeous dark chocolate, and maybe that will come later in the evening (it better had otherwise there'll be trouble), but for now I'm thinking about a blog I've just read about a young girl who is the only one of her class not to be invited to a birthday party. Why? I don't know but one can only draw the conclusion that it is something to do with the extra chromosome she has.

I mean, seriously people, what kind of world are we creating when we allow things like this to happen? What kind of prejudice still exists in our society? Is this 1914 or 2014? We were putting men on the moon in the 60's, we can grow human organs in a laboratory, we can communicate with people across the planet with the click of a button on a keyboard but we still can't accept and embrace the differences in each other!

Where has this fear of the extra chromosome come from? It is not from meeting people with Down's syndrome or other genetic condition or disability. I have never in 21 years seen anyone recoil in disgust having had an encounter with Emily or any of her friends. Absolutely the opposite - one hour spent in Emily's presence is enough to lift anyone's spirit - you simply have no alternative because Emily loves people, she loves life and she lives it to the full.

I believe that our society has educated expectant parents to believe a lie; to believe that Down's syndrome is a condition to be feared and to be eradicated from the planet. The expectation that tests will be done and that a confirmed case will be terminated is overwhelming. I believe this has created a climate of fear amongst a generation which considers itself to be the most educated generation in history. And maybe it is, but I can educate my kids to believe that the grass is blue and the sky is green, it doesn't mean that they've been educated correctly.

*did you miss me I was just making a port and redcurrant sauce*

Well thank God for some excellent people in the healthcare profession who are helping to educate correctly about Down's syndrome, giving facts not fear. There are also many amazing charities, groups and parents and friends who are also doing amazing work to change perceptions and bring about change. But it is such a slow process. I love how we can use social media to spread hope and help one another. How could anyone ever read The Future's Rosie and not fall in love with Rosie?

By the way I've also been inspired by reading The Diary of a Not So Ordinary Boy and A Different View over the past few days, please read them if you've not already done so.

So this year I'm hoping to get an exhibition together so that I can go to talk to as many people and groups as possible to educate them about Down's syndrome. I know it can be hard, but parenting is hard whether your child has Down's syndrome or not. How many teenagers with Down's syndrome have you seen hanging around street corners drinking cheap cider until they're sick or taking drugs or terrorising women walking through town? I've seen plenty of others without Down's syndrome doing that. Which is the better way to live?

Hey, I'm not trying to judge anyone. I've had three kids and they haven't been easy and they haven't been angels but they have been, and are, unique and I accept them for who they are, faults and all. That's how an educated society should be, accepting and celebrating the unique beauty in every single one of us.

Oh and dinner? See for yourself!


Emily & brother Matt across the years

Laura with fiancé Mac