As all people with families will know, Christmas, although one of the most special times of the year is also one of the most hectic. Its far to say this one didn’t disappoint on both fronts. The build up and excitement starts months in advance and this year we tried to prepare well in advance in terms of arrangements, plans and shopping. We were well on course until the 15th December when Jodi unfortunately fell down the stairs at work and broke her foot. From organised to complete chaos!!!
The ‘cast’ Jodi was put in was a “non-weight bearing one” which was completely impractical. I was still at work and the girls needed getting out of bed, dressed, fed etc etc all the daily chores which are just part and parcel of our daily lives. To be fair to my place of work, they were brilliant and I was given 3 days dependency leave to try and sort things out. This is when things you take for granted really slap you in the face. The simplest of tasks becomes a real pain and the pivotal role family play in assisting us really shines brightly.
All of this coupled with two visits to the doctors with Fin who was quite poorly with a ridiculously high temperature and horrific cough (this is so unlike him), one emergency doctors with Abigail and a dose of Amoxicillyn for all 3 of them due to chest infections meant the build up was unimaginable.
Like I say the plans we had made still needed fulfilling and the one that filled us with the most apprehension was the girls nativity. The staff at nursery have worked so hard but still thoughts such as “Will they sit still?” “Will they be able to participate?” “Will they be included?” resonated through my head.
The outfits had arrived, and the obligatory “trying-on” had brought a lump to my throat never mind the nativity itself. We made the decision that we would break nursery rules and take Fin, this was a massive achievement for the girls and we wanted him to be as proud of his sisters as we are and there was no way he was going to miss it We got there extremely early, the first as ever, and got seats on the front row.
In the children marched. Beaming smiles, waves to mummy and daddy, I then saw a little angel appear, MY ANGEL. Full of pride, chest pumped out she marched in and took her place on the bench and smiled from ear to ear (it brings a tear just reliving it writing this), about 10 children behind her was a little star, MY STAR. She was a little bit more reserved, but that is expected by now as Abigail is slightly less confident, happier in the shadow than the spotlight. Anyway, again she gave us a big smile and wave and settled down. These can’t be my girls!! So well behaved, so still and listening to the instructions!!! They are not like this at home.
As the play started the children were amazing. The first song saw tears streaming down my face. Due to Abigail’s hearing problems, the nursery had promoted signing throughout their class in everyday life. To see 50+ children following the lead of Natalie (staff) signing the songs was so incredibly moving. All we ever wanted was inclusion and this was the biggest gesture we have ever witnessed. Our girls have been accepted as “one of the children”; no different; not left out; simply one of the children. The children at the girls nursery know no different and that is all down to the staff and their philosophies and model.
There is hope in society, I am convinced that there can be a better future for people with Down’s Syndrome. 48 of societies youngest people who just happen to be in the girls’ class have played alongside someone with Down’s Syndrome, they have accepted them as one of their friends, they do not show them sympathy or pity them in anyway. These children are our future; the peers that the girls will grow up alongside, and they show no prejudice. They only know “their friends Abigail and Isobel”, they are too young to attach labels and this is the result.
We are so honoured to have had some heart-warming messages from a number of the parents who were in the audience. So many commented on how the girls had captivated them as much as their own children which we take as a huge compliment. How they were proud that their children had grown up with our girls. Messages like this really humble me, the girls take so much in their stride and will never know any different. They are having such an impact on other peoples lives that I am so incredibly proud of them, more than they will ever know.
The decision about the mainstream nursery we chose is one of the best decisions we have ever made. Thank you so much to Ruth and all the girls that have been part of the girls first few years. Each and everyone of you are amazing!!!
WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE, ALL WE ASK IS THE OPPORTUNITY!