Another idiot with a column

looks-like-we-got-us-some-readersThere we were, meself and the youngest the other day. Reading. And who should we chance upon but the lovely Minette Marin. She writes with the Times (the posh English one) and knows a thing or two about a thing or two. It’s worth having a look at her considered opinion of people with Down syndrome here. Worthwhile because she comes at it fresh from the novel viewpoint of not having Down syndrome herself, the staggeringly lucky gal. Anyway, I read her opinion and, bless her little head (below), she has it sussed. Not only that but she is funny. I’ve read it a couple of times now because when you get belly-aching humour like this:

columnist_marrin_25526aI am convinced that it is a grave misfortune for babies to be born with Down’s or any comparably serious syndrome.

well what else is there to do but laugh along and spread the infectious fun? Oh she be a hoot and no mistake, Auntie Gretchen. I probably wouldn’t blog about it at all, being drawn to the lazier end of the pool myself, but something this good deserves a wider audience in my community. I mean, the Times must have a paltry couple of million online readers, and more than anything that prompted me to help spread the message that Sharon started. She’s done a sight more on it than ole lazybones here will, but if even three or four hundred thousand of my regular readers can in turn blog about it, and the inherent humour in nuggets like:

columnist_marrin_25526aSad observations over decades have convinced me: a damaged baby is a damaged family, even now

well then Mimette’s brilliance can only help people like me and lots of you too. Now she has obviously not done this in some kind of fluffy, schmaltzy way either. She’s had people not like her for her opinions! I know you will be as shocked as I was. Listen to this:

columnist_marrin_25526aThere have been vicious attacks on me in the blogosphere by disability-lobby extremists.

How can people be so cruel? And I’ll wager that some of those vicious attacks were by scum in heavy tubular wheelchairs with those sticky-outy bits for their feet, BANGING RIGHT INTO POOR MINUETTE’S SHINS! I’m not going to let that kind of nonsense go unanswered, by God. Extremists! Attacking her! In the blogosphere! Of all places!! I got a basketball once in fifth year on the upper courts, whummpp right in the blogosphere, and I can tell you that even the memory of it now, seventy years later, brings tears to my eye. Bloody disability-lobby extremists. Nevertheless, sticks and stones and all that, but Minewt’s humour is unflappable. She bounces right back with a pithy creaser to leave not a dry seat in the house:

columnist_marrin_25526aMy point of view does not make me a heartless eugenicist.

Well, it made me laugh anyway. I can’t help it if you lot are slow, can I? But enough of the single entendres. It’s when she gets to the dirty talk that Minitwit really goes for broke. It also reveals the true genius of this towering colossus of forward thought. She sees things, she goes places that you and I, mental cripples that we are, cannot even dream about. And that’s the genius bit: she goes to these uncomfortable places, thinks these uncomfortable thoughts, and solves these uncomfortable problems for us. I’m beginning to think we should start to worship Mini-god instead of just laugh at her.

columnist_marrin_25526aWhat happens when the Down’s child becomes a teenager, interested in how he or she looks and keen to discover love and sex? It is all too predictable – a growing sense of sexual rejection. Any babies born will be taken away, probably rightly. It is heartrending.

Always back to the nookie. It’s almost as if she’s reaching back into my own teenage years growing up in rural Catholic Ireland and going to an all-boys school. And I can tell you, it can take months to get over that growing sense of sexual rejection. And somehow, she predicted it. In teenagers. The vision!  (She didn’t really say that bit about the babies being taken away. I, like, totally made that up. Except I didn’t. And she, uh, did. Quite rightly, of course.)

Ultimately though, and here’s what you all should’ve seen coming, it’s about the economy, stupid! Them Downs babies, as designer genes go, are reahhly, reahhhally expensive. Downer. Sorry for mentioning the r-word, but Mine-ette (French for little landmine, non, Nan P?) said it first:

columnist_marrin_25526aAt a time of recession, with social services understaffed and underfunded, there will be little money for social care. Even now there is nowhere near enough money to help everyone with learning disabilities lead a full and semi-independent life.

Of course it’s not all incisive cut-to-the-heart-of-it candour from our heroine. There’s the other, tiresome side of it. The pansies bloom too whenever Mintybreath’s sun shines. Dominic Lawson in the Independent warbles on, having a go at those poor, defenceless UK doctors who are trying their best – in difficult conditions, let me add, in difficult conditions – to save everyone from the scourge of Down syndrome. Sigh. We just have to have the lily-livered softies, don’t we? And reactionary nitwits like India Knight (name like that she must be a hippie, right?) are trying to bring love into the equation, like that’ll make up for the cost of having a relative with Downs. Puhleeze!

Anyway, I hope you’ll join my jolly crusade in trying to stamp this nonsense out. If you read through the responses to Minivan’s original article you’ll find lots of the ‘Well done, bravo, needed saying’ comments in there. They’re the ones who get it. The ones who remember when a mongoloid’s place was in the loft, not out affronting right-thinking people on the bus, for the love of Jesus! These sandal-wearing bloody Special Olympics crowd get right on my tits! So we’ll start the great row-back right now. Who’s with me?

jacob1Will we tell him or will you, Minette?


Postscript: Thanks Sharon for keeping an eye out. And you’d think I’d lighten up and get with this lovely seasonal WordPress snowfall, but it seems all the gobshites* come out in December too. So a kinda semi-mumbled apology for the heavy post, maan. Next one will have Bob Hope and Lou Abbot as guest bloggers. Or was it Lou Costello. Eh, we’ll dig up something.

*Dear non-Irish readers, you have just been initiated into Irish English’s greatest little gem of an insult. The harder you can stress the gob part of gobshite, the more you belittle your intended insultee. My Christmas gift to you. Use sparingly for maximum effect.

Christmas is coming…

magoo-scrooge…and I’m buggered if I’m devoting another single square centimeter of floorspace to cheap, plastic moulded toys that take up acres of room. Pesky kids. I need that space for my friend Sarah’s stuffed moose gift.

So here’s what we’re doing, and I hope it works.

We’ve started asking friends and family not to buy gifts of toys for Jacob this Christmas. Instead we’re going to be slightly less Christmassy and just say ‘GIVE US YOUR MONEY!’ Ok, not quite that chilly about it. But a SMALL donation in lieu of the usual €30/40/50 Fisher Price or VTech thingie, which we’ll then put towards more appropriate gifts.

It’s not that we don’t appreciate people’s intentions: we truly do, but we also appreciate how hard it is to get gifts for anybody, let alone someone whose needs are slightly different and not best met by off-the-shelf items from Argos or Smyths or Tommy’s World of Wonder. I’m not slamming Fisher Price or any other brands either. They can have good toys too. You can find good stuff in these stores, but you’ll have to look harder and think about it more, and anyway there’s better value to be had elsewhere. (And PLEASE don’t be fooled if the name of the shop happens to be the Early Learning Centre – they’re pretty much a toy store with lots of useless junk too, just with a clever name to make you think otherwise.)

The good news is that there are dedicated websites and stores that provide appropriate developmental toys and learning aids for kids ‘suffering’ with Down Syndrome (ha ha – thanks Cathal’s mam for pointing out the sufferance from the mainstream media on that particular phrase 🙂 )

Thinking Toys

Dee recently went to a Toy Show in St Michael’s House and was very impressed by what she saw from these guys. They’re called Thinking Toys and they’re based in Co. Clare, quite near Limerick. It’s run by a couple who are very much coming at this from a position of inside knowledge, and it’s worth doing a little bit of reading. It’s a huge shame that delivery is Ireland only, but I’d encourage you if you’re outside Ireland to get creative. If you want it you will get it. Within Ireland you can order from the website and – even better – they’re happy to come to you and do the show and tell thing.

We will also gladly demonstrate and display our products anywhere in Ireland to groups including therapists, teachers and support groups. All you have to Do is Ask and we will be there.

Isn’t that nice? It’s nice too if you want to include someone in the whole gift buying thing that you can do so and they have less chance to make a complete balls-up of it. Or you can just be Scrooges like us, tell everyone you’ll do it yourself, take the money and then spend it on Cartier watches, a yacht in Barbados and all the After Eight mints and Ferrero Rocher than one classy and well rounded couple with a reinforced sofa can possibly eat.

On a separate note, Cathal’s Mam also posted an excellent series of reports on a seminar held by Down Syndrome Dublin recently. Anybody who missed it or couldn’t make it anyway can still get some excellent advice thanks to Cathal’s ould wan’s note taking 🙂 It’s in two parts and you can access the first here, and the second one here. Well done Cathal’s mammy. It’s got great information on the superb work being done by Joan Murphy, the Clinical Nurse Specialist in Tallaght Hospital. Spread the links, anyone who can…

Yes we can!

1

Ok, so you’ve got a black man…

4

…and he’s moving into a white house

2

…thanks to a lot of blue voters?

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Schweet.

My name is Jacobama and I endorse this message.

Note from Jacob’s campaign advisor

And well done to all you red voters out there who made your votes count too. Didn’t mean to exclude you all, and glad to see everyone making this whole voting lark work so well.

More special than you

Psst! Dad! I’ve got special needs.
Doesn’t that make you melt just a little bit?

Listen kid, don’t push it. We’re all special.

Don’t gimme that. My needs are way
more special than you.

Oh yeah? You got a mortgage repayment on the tenth? A family to feed? A hallway skirting to paint before the carpet guys come?

No.

Hah! Thought not. Shuddup then.

Hmmm.

Hmmm.

So. You got any caca in your pants?

Thought not. I win.

Whatchoo lookin’ at?

Yesterday Jacob got the results from his Breathing Cert. He scored a double A for his lungs. Crystal clear, said the doc with the x-ray vision in Temple Street, while his mammy exhaled in delighted relief.

We’ve been told by the smart folks at St Michael’s House that because of his history of aspiration/pneumonia/lung infection that it was important for Jacob to drink his bottle in as upright a position as possible, and also to remain in a sitting position for a half hour after feeding. No more last bottle of the day and straight to bed. The top brass in Temple Street reckoned that this was pretty good advice. And so do we.

On a separate note, a big congrats to Sesame who has just qualified as Senior Big Boots Professor in Children With Special Needs. She now Officially Knows Everything™ so scoot on over and ask her something really hard, like what the capital of Bolivia is.