I head into After School club to donate some cakes left over from a playground sale of … well, cakes. We’re raising money at Thrush Woods to sponsor Faith, who’s running the London Marathon next week for Parkinson’s UK. A couple of mixed infants skip up to me, arm in arm.
“Have you still got Parkinson’s?” asks one.
“OK.” And they skip off.
I’m rather impressed by the idea that they think I might have been cured in the hour since doing a School Assembly explaining about the cake sale, what Parkinson’s UK does, what Parkinson’s is, and that I, in fact, have had the condition for nearly three years so am pretty darn grateful for anyone who is raising money that might help to bring a cure closer.
Preparing for the assembly was made a heck of a lot easier by a nifty little book called ‘My Mum has Parkinson’s’ which I downloaded from the PUK site. It’s aimed at young children but explains the condition, I think, really well for any age. What’s more, the Mum in the illustrations is very cool and groovy: I could never carry off those red shoes. There are others in the series: “My Dad has Parkinson’s”, “My Gran has…” Well, you get the picture.
As it happens, PUK have their annual Awareness week coming up, with the tag #upyourfriendly, trying to encourage people to be patient and friendly. The materials for this included some assembly ideas. So I threw them into the mix, together with the picture of my brain from a PET scan which, at £6,000 is going to be my most expensive portrait ever. And hey presto, instant assembly, which I’d be happy to do at weddings, bah mitzvahs or in your living room if there’s nowt on box.
It seemed to go OK by the only reliable measure of Assembly Success, namely how many children ask to go to the toilet. It is a fact universally acknowledged that the number of visits to the loo in an assembly is inversely proportional to the level of interest of said assembly. I have known assemblies on the minor prophets strain the school cisterns to breaking point.
My colleagues have known about my diagnosis from the start, but I’ve shyed away from telling the children. So this felt like a big step but also seemed to be the right time, while I’m still known to the school community. From the purely mercenary point of view, it might raise an extra bob or two for Faith’s run, of which, frankly, I am in awe. LittleSis and I did a couple of ‘Moonwalks’ a few years back – marathon length walks through London wearing decorated bras, in aid of Breast Cancer – and that was grim enough. Imagine running all that way!
There was another reason to ‘come out’ to the wider school community, though. I remember how very much I was cheered, in the early days, by hearing about neighbours and friends of colleagues who had PD and were just getting on with life. It helped to counter more extreme images of the condition and gave me some hope. So, it might just be useful, one day, for one of those kids to be able to say:
“I had a teacher with Parkinson’s and she seemed to be OK. Mind you, she knew bugger all about the minor prophets.”
Yes, I know I owe you some blogs. What can I say? Guilty as charged. It’s crazy: when I had to carve time to blog from hours that should have been spent in marking and preparation, I managed one a week. Now that my life is a lovely free-flowing jumble of activities – home stuff and allotment stuff and web-siting stuff with a bit of tutoring and teaching thrown in – the blogging seems to get pushed down the to-do list. Perhaps the secret was to have something that I really wanted to avoid doing.
So, Pa has discovered ‘Give as You Switch’, which is linked to the GiveAsYouLive scheme and means you can earn money for your chosen charity by using their price comparison services. As his power contract needed renewing, he went onto the site and ended up, as it turned out, back at his original provider but with a new contract and a donation to boot. So a cure has been bought that little bit closer. Thanks Pa. The link is here.
Finally, you might not have caught the comment made by Steve on my blog a few weeks’ back; the one about Reception children with tummy upsets. He said:
“I once got a letter from a parent explain their child had been absent because he had a ‘dire rear’. Technically a misspelling, but sooo much more descriptive.”
Steve blogs at Stevestuff and it’s a complete delight. Another great way to put off doing the planning.