Chatty Natty on ITV Lorraine Show: The Face of Representation

Did you ever have a moment in your life that was so exciting, so surreal that you weren't sure if you dreamt it up? 

The kind of moment where you are plucked from your ordinary life and sucked into a parallel universe for the briefest of whiles, before being plopped back safe and sound, albeit exhausted and clutching a few souvenirs?

Well, if it weren't for two pink Lorraine clocks in the girls' bedrooms, I would indeed be wondering if I had dreamt up our trip to London to feature live on the ITV Lorraine Show.

Natty is the face of representation in the latest Sainsbury's Back to School ads

Let's cut to the chase. 

Who needs waffling paragraphs about frantic what-to-wear packing, and details of long, muggy, journeys to London. Why would anyone care about the endless phone calls and emails it takes to coordinate such a trip. It's probably not even essential to hear about the gut-twisting nerves and the adrenaline rush that kicked in just in time to tell my brain how to deliver the goods required.

The long and short of it is that following Natty's inclusion in the Sainsbury's Back to School advertising campaign, Sky News, Loose Women and now Lorraine Kelly wanted to talk to us.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that I felt vulnerable. Appearing on live TV is one thing. Appearing on live TV with an unpredictable, wriggly 7 year old in tow is another entirely. And depite a thick skin that has developed over the 3 years of blogging, I know the trolls were waiting in the wings.

My mind played out every possible eventuality and how I would prevent or deal with it: 
Running off set and hugging a camera person.
Saying 'poo' or 'I like your breasts' (it's a long story) on air.
Giving a loud rendition of 'Let It Go'.
Doing the bottom wiggle dance.

I was sure Natty could be trusted. 
But could I?

As Natty snored in the little bed next to mine, sweetly dreaming of the party dress and shiny Red Riding Hood shoes she had laid out at the foot of her bed for the morning, I turned to my trusty notebook to set out in black and white what I would try to say the next day. There on a blank page lay a drawing. Natty had made her own notes in the form of a picture of her family. My motivation was right there.

Natty and Hayley's notes for the
interview on the ITV Lorraine Show

Britmums founder Jennifer Howze had advised me to 'Make three clear points. Everything else is just gravy.' 
Broadly speaking, these were:

1  We all need to see ourselves represented in the media
Society should be reflected as it is. Natty is just a little girl first and foremost, but seeing her in these mainstream ads shines a light for new parents and shows just what a natural part of life Down's syndrome is.

2  We need to remove the fear of Down's syndrome 
The phrase currently strikes fear into the heart of most pregnant women. We need unbiased support to enable parents to make informed choices. Thanks to the charities. 

Yes, there are challenges, and, as Andrew Merriman said in his book, life with a child with DS requires 'A Minor Adjustment'. 
But Natty has made me a better person, taught me to slow down and appreciate the moment, the smaller details of life.

Inclusion benefits us all. It's a two-way street and 'Together we are Better' (Quote from Helen Laverty, Learning Disability nurse.)

3  We must hear the voice of siblings
Mia's book, I love You Natty. Published to help new siblings and family members understand Down's syndrome. 

We the morning came. At 5am we rose, were driven to the studio, coiffed and made up, fed pastries and coffee and chatted easily with all in the Green Room. Which was white with purple accessories.

Lorraine Kelly was truly wonderful, came to meet Natty and sat on the floor with her chatting. It all felt so natural. 
Natty and Lorraine Kelly read our book I Love You Natty

We were ushered on set and sat on the sofas, with 3 large cameras pointing in our direction. Natty was utterly unphased. Even the last minute nose-powdering just made her giggle. And as we went live, and my head jiggled the notes and the gravy, Natty declared 'I want to talk about me!'

The tummy rubbing and head patting had begun. The gently pleasing and coercising the 7 year old diva, and the desperate desire not to waste that 5 minutes of precious air time all felt like plate spinning in the wind.

The points were made, some of them got jumbled, drops of gravy landed, some fell to the side. I didn't get my name checks in, but they were in my heart and holding a safe space for me. No-one flashed their knickers, farted or said 'boobs' and for that I am eternally grateful.

And so, home we came, with 2 alarm clocks that could wake the whole village, memories forever, a social media flurry and a knowledge that as part of a team we have made just a little bit more of a difference.

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