Day 13 of Holidays

If things had been different with Joshua, if he had not suffered from brain damage at birth, we would have to have traveled home to collect his A Level results yesterday. It would have marked the next stage of his life and a major landmark in his independence as he would have hopefully have got the grades necessary to go to his university of choice. His peers that I saw on Facebook achieved their goals and will be off to University in the autumn. I know that this path is nobody’s by right, that everyone puts in hard work and determination to get there, but Joshua was deprived of that essential brain power to even have the choice, which makes me sad on his behalf.

So instead of celebrating with Joshua, I  reflect back on my A level results day 34 years ago!! In those days, you were not sent your results electronically, we had to go into school to have a brown envelope passed to us and so you received the news in front of your teachers and peers. I needed three Bs to get onto my course of choice at my preferred university, which seemed like a tall order at the time. Thankfully I exceeded those grades and all was well, I then spent all summer 1985 panicking about leaving home and my family. and being over 3 hours drive away. Of course I settled in well and I loved my time at university, which is why I feel that Joshua is missing out. I wish all of Joshua’s peers well for the start of their adventure and hope that all of their dreams come true.

That is a sadness that I feel on his behalf , but Joshua himself is, thankfully, oblivious to what yesterday could have meant for him. So long as Joshua has chips, cuddles and music it seems, his life is complete at the moment. It was a sunny day, the forecasters threaten that it will be our last one of our holiday, so we made the most of it on the beach and prom most of the day. We walked along the prom towards the parts of the beach where the dogs could play, until Joshua insisted that we stop at a cafe for a sit down and admired the sea view. The tide was in when we reached the ‘dog beach section’ so we three sat on the sea wall, with our legs dangling, while the dogs played on the wet sand. My husband went for a swim in the sea and took the dogs out with him and then he bought a tennis ball which Joshua enjoyed throwing for them to fetch. Joshua and I lay on the rug once enough sand revealed itself, once the tide started to retreat, so we were there for some time. Eventually we packed our stuff up and we walked back along the prom to another cafe for a late lunch, where we sat outside, right next to the beach. We had delicious food and then headed back to the house, up the steep hill once more, which Joshua  takes in his stride these days. We are very fortunate to have had a lovely beach day, it is important to take advantage of all opportunities that come our way, whatever they might be.

Follow your Dream

People with disabilities should have as much opportunity to follow their dreams as anyone else, they should not be held back by their disabilities.  We watch the paralympics in awe , as blind skiers fly down the slopes and runners with impaired limbs, race around the track.  But last night, we saw a young man, who happens to have downs syndrome, dance his heart out on ‘The Greatest Dancer’ on BBC1. His proud Mum introduced him and explained how he would ‘plod’ when he walked but that his feet came alive when he danced. Then we saw it for ourselves and we watched him light up the stage. In that TV talent show, the mirrors pull open if at least 75% of the audience press their buttons and then they progress to the next stage of the competition.He danced his heart out and when the mirrors pulled back to reveal the audience, he clearly fed off the reaction of the crowd and he beamed as he performed at an even higher level., like  a real showman.

We saw so many people visibly moved by his performance, his reaction, his obvious pure joy at being there and meeting his idols and his clear love for his Mum too.  It was for me the highlight of the show and they clearly saved the best until last. The ‘captains’ did not patronise him, they did not talk to him in an insulting way – “aww bless him, the disabled boy is having fun”. But they told him to keep dancing as it was good for his soul, and we could see that it was true. His best friend was in the audience and when he got through to the next round, Tom went down onto the stage to congratulate and hug his best friend. That too was a beautiful moment.

Of course, me being me, I wept throughout the performance and the aftermath. That is what I would like for Joshua : to find his passion and to develop a skill that makes him truly happy. I already know that he loves his mum, he is not embarrassed to hug me in public, but I would adore him to have a best friend too, someone of his own age who was proud of him and supported him like we saw on The Greatest Dancer last night. I am already looking forward to seeing him perform again. I doubt that he will win the competition – £50,000 and to perform on Strictly – as he was not the most technically accomplished dancer there. But if votes were won for passion and the impact that dance has had on his life, then he should win the first prize.