My niece introduced me to a TV programme called ‘There she Goes’, which features a 9 year old girl, called Rosie, who has undiagnosed learning difficulties and her family who are trying to cope with her – her parents and brother. I have only watched two of the episodes on catch-up but I am enjoying what I have seen so far. It has not made me cry at all yet – which is quite a feat – but it has made me laugh a lot and I recognise so many of the situations that it has portrayed, so much so that this is clearly written by someone with personal experience. The aspects that I recognise are:
- Rosie refused to walk to the park, she lay down in the road, so in the end they lifted her into the car and drove her the short distance to the park , where she lay in the park on the grass. Joshua also protests by throwing himself to the floor and now that he is taller than me and older, we can no longer simply pick him up and move him to where we want him to be. I now take more time to think why he might not want to do something and he does not have to do it, then he is allowed to refuse – this does not work for school or when we have an invitation somewhere. Too many times, Joshua has protested on the floor, he has been overruled, then he has had a seizure soon after. What we interpreted as bad behaviour, was simply him communicating that it might not be a good idea as a seizure was brewing.
- Rosie loves a bubble bath, splashes about in it happily and Joshua does too. Rosie’s mum has to employ sneaky strategies to encourage her to get out of the bath. I was shouting at the television, just let the water go, then she will get out!
- The parents have to use teamwork to coax Rosie to brush her teeeth, it is such an ordeal that it is a two person job! We have experienced that for teeth-brushing and also for nail and hair cutting.
The main thing that I do not recognise is the mother’s reaction to her daughter. She is struggling to accept her disability and wants to know why her beautiful daughter has been swapped for this child who she refers to as a pet who needs looking after. They do not have a diagnosis and she struggled when Rosie was younger to persuade people that there was anyting wrong with her. She took baby Rosie to a music class and she was embarrassed at how sullen Rosie did not smile or join in. The mum in the series does not feel that she can love Rosie and she wants to grieve what she has lost.
While I can understand her reaction to her daughter, I have never felt the same way about Joshua : we had a diagnosis at 4 days old so our situation is different to theirs. But I have never felt that taking care of Joshua was my duty and I have always loved him unconditionally, depsite his disability. I cannot say that I have not speculated about how things might have been different and have thought about he boy that we should have had, but that does not diminish how I feel about Joshua. I was shocked, then was angry later, when a lady at mainstream primary school once told me that we should grieve for the child that we did not have. I enjoy his highs and I tolerate his lows, but I will always be there for him.