Embracing ‘Scruffy Hospitality’: A Firefly Community Post

Come and join me on the Firefly  Community page, where I’m considering offering my friends some rather ‘scruffy hospitality’…



A Gut Reaction …

The first thing I read this morning was the news from Japan of an attack on a centre for the disabled, which has left nineteen dead. It is reported that the suspect had called for the euthanasia of disabled people, and is quoted as saying he wanted to rid the world of the disabled.

I don’t know offhand whether Japan has the death penalty for murder, but I know that In Britain, and many other countries, we do not, because (among other reasons) it is considered morally and ethically unacceptable to take a life. 
Holland is another country that does not have the death penalty for murder, or any other crime. But it does allow for disabled babies to be euthanised up to sixty days after birth. Just think about that for a moment.
Here in Britain the law allows for babies prenatally diagnosed with a ‘disabling’ condition, even a moderate one, such as Down’s Syndrome, or Cleft Palate, to be aborted at any time up to birth; and there are many people who would think it perfectly acceptable to allow for the euthanasia of disabled individuals after birth also. And yet we do not have the death penalty for murderers – who have chosen to actively do harm in the world – even where the evidence is incontrovertible, or the suspect has confessed. Because the taking of life is not morally and ethically acceptable.
Just think about that for a moment.

School Report.

It’s that time of year again – school report time. With my older children, I always joked that I would go through the report with my red editing pen, pick out all the typos and grammatical errors, and send it back marked out of ten. I often had a sneaking suspicion that some of the teachers hadn’t the vaguest notion who my child was, so they just wrote something non-commital, and open to interpretation, in the hope that it would sound approximately realistic. 

I know most parents take school reports very seriously, and indeed they are meant to be a taken seriously, as an informed guide to your child’s progress, aptitudes, and ‘weaknesses’ that need addressing, but I always had a (possibly unhealthy) disrespect for teachers in my school days which does not seem to have abated in adulthood. But when it comes to Freddie’s school report, I can’t help chuckling at some of the comments, so much so that I’ve put the red pen away. 

He attends a SEND school: it’s small, barely a hundred pupils in total, with only nine in Freddie’s class (and three staff). The focus is very much on individual progress. Reports are personal – you can tell that the teacher really knows your child, and all their quirks and funniosities.

Here are my favourite remarks from this year’s report:

I can almost hear him squealing with delight at digging up and handling wriggly worms.

You are such a little grub, Freddie (I’d live to be a minibeast in the wall witnessing that).

That’s a very tactful way of putting it!

But my best favourite has got to be this one:

Once again his school have made a point of noticing positive personal qualities that have nothing to do with academic achievement , but are very important in everyday life. Often people have a very negative preconception of SEND schools, but I think mainstream schools could learn a lot from the ethos of schools like Merryfields. Not all pupils are academic, but all have positive qualities, skills and aptitudes if you take the time to notice: and we should.

I will be resharing an old post about why I chose SEND school:

And the Award for the Best Award goes to …

It’s always great when your child’s achievements are recognised and acknowledged by their school. I’m extra super pleased with the certificate that Freddie brought home today. I’m always saying to his big sister that many of her best qualities are ones which school does not assess or measure in any way. It seems Freddie’s school does celebrate and reward these qualities, though. Well done, Lovely Lad.

A Typical Weekend (for an Atypical Family).

So, what is a ‘typical’ weekend like for a ‘Down’s Syndrome’ family? Well, for a start, it’s a lot better when you don’t refer to us in that way. We’re just a family who have a kid with an extra chromosome. It’s no biggie, that little extra; it doesn’t weigh anything, or climb up the curtains, and he doesn’t leave it lying around for people to trip over. For us, the average weekend looks something like this …



Saturday begins at 7:00am with an early morning puppet show – a matinee performance of ‘Hugless Douglas’. There’s coffee in the interval (if you get out of bed and make it yourself).


A spot of football – until BOOF! – the ball thuds into the flowerbed, closely followed by a small boy with big boots. Still, at least it stops the fat, lardy-arsed pigeons from mating on the fence. Shameless, they are. You might expect it in the sort of neighbourhood where people go down the shop in their pyjamas, but not here …


A birthday party – with cake, of course. I’ll go if cake is provided. You haven’t really partied unless you end up with buttercream on your nose.


Sunday School for Teddy Bears (guess which one is Teacher’s Pet?)


The art of Multitasking … eating toast while trying out the pencils I won in the Britain in Bloom Painting Competition. Typical -on the day I want to do one of those charcoal drawings, she doesn’t burn the toast.



The odd selfie while Mummy’s not looking.


Other random monkey business. ‘Monkey business? How very dare you accuse us of Monkey business? There’s nothing going on here.’


And finally – ‘Drying my piggies’, after a nice warm bath.

After all the time and trouble people have gone to over the centuries, to generate a whole storybook-full of plausible negative stereotypes — and we selfishly ignore them. Isn’t that just typical!