Happy Third Birthday Joseph!

Joseph on TV for ELA

Joseph's third birthdayJoseph celebrated his third birthday on Monday with us and his grand parents who had just arrived from Ireland. This was his first birthday where he understood the thrill of opening cards and presents (along with his parents!), so thank you to everyone that sent something.

The morning got off to a great start and a very positive experience: we were invited to represent the ELA families at an ELA dictation exercise at Joliot-Curie primary school in Echirolles (near Grenoble) with quadruple Beijing para-olympian gold medalist David Smetanine. Present also was a journalist and cameraman from France 3 and the event was later broadcast on the evening regional news (video)!

We were a bit nervous at first, not knowing how Joseph would react to all the over-excited 10 year-old children (we’ve noticed that he is very sensitive to high pitch squeals), and also how we would react as these events can be quite powerful emotionally. We all passed with flying colors – even when all the children made a special effort to sing “Happy Birthday” in English which was very moving.

The school children then had to compete against a select panel of parents to perform a “dictation” where they had to listen to David read out a passage about someone who is told that they have an incurable disease (e.g. leukodystrophy). They then find out that the illness is not incurable for any hard medical reasons, but due to economic reasons: the illness is too rare to be worth investing in research, and there is simply too little known about the illness for it to be treated or cured. From an objective point of view this viewpoint is understandable, but try explaining that to a sick child or their parents. Before having Joseph I would have always had this objective opinion, but secretly deep down inside I would hope that I would never be in a situation where I would have to test it. Well, call it fate, but we’re in that position, and the objective view on things doesn’t hold up. The subject of the dictation passage has the same experience and decides to do everything to fight the illness by putting on their trainers and running a race to raise money. This is a reference to the ELA’s “Mets Tes Baskets” (put on your trainers) fundraising campaign which all schools in France (and I imagine other countries where ELA has a presence) can participate.

While the dictation was taking place we sat and talked with many of the children. It’s incredible how intuitively sensitive young children are – they asked many questions and talked and held Joseph. Joseph was very relaxed and loved being the center of attention!

From my point of view the morning was something that we will remember for a long time, and I hope that it is something that the children will remember too. Our thanks go to the Joliot-Curie primary school in Echirolles, David Smetanine, and the ELA for organizing this event.

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