Or, otherwise entitled:
My kid: the most non-conformist, unenthusiastic little football mascot there’ll ever be…in the world…like, probably, ever!
It’s vital that we grasp as many opportunities for Hannah whilst we can, because we don’t know what the future holds – don’t panic, this WILL be a very happy post…I’m not going to get all morose on you.
So, when Hannah was given the chance to be a mascot for Preston North End (PNE) football team (that’s soccer, for our lovely friends in the U.S.), regardless of the fact that she wouldn’t have a clue what that meant or where she was, I was simply delighted.
This was an opportunity of a lifetime. Something that many kids never get the chance to do.
But rather (too) often, we’ll try and make plans to do something nice, then have to cancel because Hannah’s unwell. This is just one of the many banes and worrisome aspects of being a Special Parent! *sigh* So, given her immune system has taken several bashings this year, I had everything crossed and hoped for the best that we’d manage to get there.
Thankfully, the crossing stuff seemed to work and so last Saturday morning we (Hannah, her daddy and I) toddled off to the PNE stadium.
I’ll be honest with you, I felt a bit giddy (although it doesn’t take much these days – we rarely get many exciting opportunities!); giddy because I’d never been to a football match before, giddy that Hannah was to be a mascot and giddy because we were joining up with several of our Rainbow families whose kids were also taking part.
(n.b. for our friends across the globe – ‘Hello!’ *waves enthusiastically* – by giddy, I mean excited, not light-headed, woozy etc.)
Anyway, shortly after our arrival, we met up with Hannah’s pals, their families and Rainbow staff.
…and then the fun began!
First off, a tour around and we met the opponents manager (Karl from MK Dons – a very lovely man) and then it was time to meet the players.
We all loitered around the changing room door until we were ushered inside.
Now, I have a bit of a confession to make here…
You know when you go somewhere new and you have these pre-conceived ideas about what it’ll be like?
Well, I had some pre-conceived ideas about many things, including the changing rooms *gasp!*
I envisioned something you might see depicted on the telly – a steamy room packed with semi-naked, muscular, bronzed young males swaggering around, the air thick with testosterone mixed with some hypnotic Tom Ford fragrance.
(Sorry about that)
Thankfully, I didn’t have to hold my hand over Hannah’s eyes to protect her from anyone’s starkers-ness – although, she probably wouldn’t have batted an eyelid anyway!. Nope, they were all fully clothed and respectable and young enough for me to have given birth to them all.
How very dare they!
So, as was suggested, we took the opportunity to take some photos and for Hannah to have her lovely new PNE football shirt signed by the players. Surprisingly, no sharpie pen ended up flying up anyone’s nostril – I anticipated (wrongly) that Hannah would throw herself backwards violently – as she’s known to do – simply at the mere hint of anyone attempting to write on her clothes – and subsequently injuring a player with a sharpie, rendering them unfit to play for the rest of the season. Hannah, instead, retreated into her own little world for a bit and centered herself by holding her hand in front of her face. She wasn’t at all distressed (I wouldn’t have subjected her to it, if I felt she was), rather, everything was unfamiliar and busy.
Now, let me confess here, I know very little about ‘The Beautiful Game’ – although, purely for educational purposes (yeah, right!), I’ve had to watch many football and rugby matches at Broccoli HQ. It’s been a bind, I must say *wink*. Consequently, I had absolutely no idea who I was speaking to – Oh, the shame of it! So, like the schmuck that I (often) am, I had to apologise to each player in succession whilst enquiring as to who they were, before handing over my child and taking their photo as quickly as I could for fear she did actually throw herself backwards and knock someone’s teeth out.
I didn’t fancy paying the hefty sum for replacement veneers!
Unfortunately, Hannah was NOT impressed in the slightest by any of this…as you will observe by the photos! (There’s more on our Facebook page if you’d like to pop over and see them).
So, after a rather lovely lunch, it was time to get on the pitch.
Hannah and her pals had their photos taken again and then we waited (Hannah sometimes doesn’t ‘do’ waiting very well) in the tunnel for the players to come out. Each player would then accompany a mascot and their escort out onto the pitch. Ideally, holding hands.
Hannah didn’t want to hold hands with anyone. Not even me. *sigh*
Poor, lovely Eoin (number 13) got lumbered with us – sorry Eoin! Hannah had had enough by this point. She was totally fed up and didn’t want to do anything anyone asked, except throw herself on the floor and roll around for a bit – note to self: must try that sometime!. So, whilst there was no time for dilly-dallying (they had a game to play) and I didn’t relish the thought of her being trampled on by the players behind us, I shepherded Hannah along whilst holding Eoin’s hand. Well, it would’ve been rude not to. Someone had to do it!
Then, it was time for the mascots and players to shake the hands of the opponents.
Oh, and guess what?, Hannah didn’t want to do any of that either! *throws hands up in despair*
Oh no. She then gestured (she gestured…yay!) for Eoin to pick her up, which he bravely did. However, after about 20 seconds, she decided she wanted to be put down – not by gesturing…just squirming.
And then it was time for the boys to do their thing…and Hannah fell asleep in her pram, exhausted by the events of the day. Snoring for the whole 90 minutes!
Throughout the day the kids were treated like VIP’s – which, of course, they are ordinarily! – and a good day was had by all. The atmosphere in the stadium was amazing and the fans were just brilliant. I can honestly say that everyone we came across were wonderful. It didn’t rain (hoorah!), although (like many special parents do) I’d packed for that and all other eventualities! and the sun was kind enough to come out for us.
But alongside all this, I want to throw in something a little extra here….
Not everyone appears comfortable or able to communicate with kids with additional needs…or even your ‘run of the mill’ average kids for that matter. I get that, I really do. And that’s often down to education and/or experience. All the players we met were great on the day, but there’s one person that really stood out.
I’ve met Bailey a couple of times now – aside from being a footballer and the fact that many young women would probably go all weak and silly in his presence, throw themselves prostrate on the floor in front of him whilst sobbing uncontrollably at his handsomeness and pleading to have his babies! – he seems to have this natural knack of communicating with people even if they can’t reciprocate; with Hannah and kids just like her. It’s really hard to have a one way conversation, especially if you hardly know someone or have just met. I know how hard it is. I do it every day…and that’s with someone I know well – Hannah!
Now, aside from the obvious football skills, THAT’S a very special (and priceless) thing to have in your communication toolbox that not everyone has (or wants, for that matter)…and means SO much to Special Parents like me. Because in some way, it means our kids may be seen as kids FIRST. So Bailey, sweetheart, let this old lady give you a tiny piece of advice: no matter where your career takes you, please don’t ever forget that gift you have. Oh, and fear not, whilst there’s no doubt that you’re an extremely handsome young man, I’m not bigging you up because I want to have your babies. You’re welcome! 🙂
For me, every experience can be a learning curve. So, what have I gleaned from this?
Well, I’ve learned that:
- Preston North End is THE bestest, most friendly football club in the world. OK, so whilst I’ve never been to another club to compare and maybe I’m being a little biased here, just try and bear with me if you’re a fan of another team. IT’S ONLY A GAME!!!!
- Knickers (pants, undergarments, pantaloons; call them what you will); big, MASSIVE ones that stretch right up to your armpits are THE essential attire that any sensible person (by person I’m referring to mostly women, I should think) should be wearing to a match. Obviously, you need to wear other clothes too…you can’t just sit there in your underwear! But knickers – as thick as orange peel that could withstand a force 10 gale ought to be worn. Because, I’m not kidding, even though Hannah’s daddy advised that I should wrap up warm and whilst it wasn’t too cold on the day, my poor kidneys took such a hit whilst sat for 90 mins with a draught whipping around my derriere. Sorry, TMI there, huh?
- I very much enjoyed going to watch a football match – yeah, fancy that!? – and I aim to go and watch again sometime.
- I’ll never, ever tire of seeing kids (our Rainbow kids in this instance) being SO excited and beaming with smiles when they get the opportunity to do something they really want to do. *melt*
- That wherever we go, even if Hannah continues to do her own thing and not conform to expectations (that’s my girl!), I’ll never apologise for her character (unless she bites someone!) and my heart will still burst with immense pride for this tenacious, inspiring, fun loving little girl.
So, that’s almost all for this post my lovelies.
I’m off to M&S to buy some of those big knickers.
But before I go, let’s give the last few words to a woman who, with her wit, could brighten up the gloomiest of days. A true comedy genius and an incredibly talented, astute, unique, irreplaceable woman whom, I hope, knew how much of an inspiration she was to many people, including me – Victoria Wood – a National Treasure, who lost her life far too soon:
“Life’s not fair, is it? Some of us drink champagne in the fast lane and some of us eat our sandwiches by the loose chippings on the A597”
So true Victoria, so very true.
Many thanks, as always, for stopping by.
Until next time
This post is dedicated to everyone at PNE (obvs!) for helping to make some truly lovely lifelong memories. Thank you SO much! ❤
And, as always, to Rainbow House…our lifeline…. ❤
And, of course, to Victoria. ❤