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 fiancĂ© 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



  1. Thank you so much for the mention, just getting around to catching up with everyone's blogs. Miss breast feeding in the wee hours, it gave me time to read! Lovely post, I too was saddened by the story of the uninvited child and I know it's one of the many things I worry about. I'll look forward to seeing the exhibition. Happy new year and love to you all, Amy

    1. You're welcome Amy. Thanks for reading it. It's so hard keeping up with everyone's blogs and I admit I can't!! But I'm trying! I'm not sure how many times Emily hasn't been invited to things because you only know what you know. Happy new year to you all! Paul