Two amazing children

One of the wonderful things about the interwebs is that I have been able to find other families who have children like Smiley who are undiagnosed.  Many of them belong the wonderful UK group SWAN - for Syndromes without A Name - and some of them I now count as friends.

SWAN UK is also a finalist in this year's National Lottery Impact Awards, and they need your votes.  Just click on the link, it only takes a couple of seconds.

But why should you?  Well, two SWAN Mums, whose blogs I absolutely adore, have written a couple of very moving posts explaining why...

First up is Emma from 'Little Mamma said'

Please, PLEASE check out her inspiring blog too at

Over to you, Emma....

“This is his diagnosis”, said the paediatrician as she handed me a piece of paper filled with lines and squiggles; Hugh’s higgledy piggledy chromosomes represented on paper by wavy lines in blue and red. I stared in disbelief; “What’s it called, this chromosome disorder? What does the future hold? How many other children are there?” she smiled sympathetically (perhaps patronisingly) and explained it didn’t have a name, the future was uncertain and as far as they could tell there was no-one else in the world with the same jumbled up chromosomes as Hugh.

We left the hospital numb and in shock. There was something wrong with our son, something that wasn’t working the way it should. The doctors and geneticists suspected it was to do with the complicated mix-up of chromosomes but they couldn’t be sure. They basically didn’t know what was causing Hugh’s difficulties. “Carry on with life”, they said, “A diagnosis doesn’t matter, he’ll get all the support he needs anyway”.

I was dumbfounded. In this day and age, how could it be possible to NOT know what was wrong with a child? Surely the wonders of modern medicine meant that everything could be tested for and identified somehow? I took to searching the internet to find the answers myself. If they couldn’t find out what the problem was, then maybe I could. Late into the night I typed in combinations of symptoms into search engines hoping for the answer, but nothing jumped out at me. There were no answers. I was convinced we were the only people in the world that didn’t know what was wrong with their child. I searched for support groups, but without a diagnosis of autism or Downs syndrome it was impossible to find anywhere suitable. I felt isolated and alone, angry and bitter and scared.

After endless late-night internet searches and on the verge of giving up, a lone voice responded to my pleas for help - her son didn’t have a diagnosis either. And in that moment, I started to feel relief – we weren’t alone; we weren’t the only ones! Shortly after meeting Rachel online, the project Syndromes Without a Name was resurrected by the charity Genetic Alliance. We were both within the first ten people to join the facebook group and the rest as they say is history!

I spent the next few months feeling a mixture of hope and despair, denial and anger, fear and uncertainty and shared it all with my new found friends online, or ‘SWAN family’ as we liked to call each other. When I found Hugh blue and lifeless in the living room for the first time, they were there for me. When he got an epilepsy diagnosis, they were there for me. When he was registered blind they were there. Day and night, through thick and thin, they have metaphorically held my hand, poured me wine and hugged me. In the darkest days, living on a knife edge, not knowing if Hugh would live to see another day, they helped me hold it together, with their messages of support and encouragement and virtual hugs.

For a long time, Hugh was very ill. His epilepsy caused him to stop breathing for prolonged periods of time and we would regularly have to give him mouth-to-mouth. I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve been in an ambulance. Added to that were the recurrent chest infections he suffered and bouts of other illnesses like swine flu; we seemed to spend our lives in and out of hospital. Developmentally he struggled, any progress hindered by illness and skills lost through the devastating effects of his seizures. Little wonder then, that on his second birthday a consultant declared, ‘none of us expected him to live this long’!

Fast forward though and the days aren’t so dark anymore. Hugh’s health has improved dramatically and the future looks brighter than I could have imagined this time two years ago. And my ‘SWAN family’? Well, they’re still there – encouraging and supporting me, making me laugh (and sometimes cry), giving advice and still offering those all important virtual hugs. It’s less ‘virtual’ now and much more ‘real life’. I’ve been ‘oop North’ to visit Rachel and meet her gorgeous wee boy. I’ve skyped and facetimed and good old-fashioned telephoned lots of others mums. Our whole family went to the SWAN fun day at Thames Valley Adventure Park and met up with loads of other families in a similar situation to us. And we’ve had a jolly good girl’s night out, where the wine certainly wasn’t virtual and the hugs were heavily influenced by alcohol! There’s another girly night out in the pipeline and I can’t wait.

And Hugh? Well developmentally he’s still very delayed, at 3 years old he’s probably somewhere around the age of 3-6 month old. But he’s happy and so much healthier that his physical and cognitive development doesn’t concern me too much. When you’ve been given books on preparing an end of life plan for your son or had to give mouth-to-mouth at the side of the road, everything else kind of pales into insignificance really. A diagnosis isn’t as important as it once was, I’ve mostly come to accept what will be, will be and embrace the lack of diagnosis as it puts no limitations or expectations on him. I’m happier not knowing what the future holds, we’ll take each day as it comes and embrace it as the gift that it truly is.

For me, SWAN UK was a lifeline when I needed it most. I’m not sure how I would have coped without the support I had from the friends I made through SWAN. Even though life has improved significantly since those early dark days, I still rely heavily on the advice I get from the members of SWAN, whether that be about tube feeds or equipment or anything else. I love the fact that I can share the teeniest of tiny milestones that Hugh reaches and that they all celebrate it as a huge achievement, which for him it is.

As time goes on, and SWAN UK gets bigger and bigger, more local groups have been springing up. I now have good friends living within the city and surrounding areas that have SWAN children too. I’ve even recruited a few extra members myself and given presentations to doctors about the group in the hope that they will pass on the information to their patients. It is estimated that around half of all children with learning disabilities don’t have a diagnosis, yet despite this astonishing figure, when I left the hospital in October 2010, I was convinced we were the only ones. Hopefully, as SWAN UK continues to grow, people will know where to turn should they be in that position. Hopefully no one will feel as isolated and alone as I did.


How can you not vote for SWAN UK after reading that?

And for more proof, head over to Rachel's blog for another heart-warming story:

I'm looking at you, Mr App Developer

I heard the latch of the gate being lifted.  Then I heard the giggles.  I ran to the door, and there was my Smiley girl, delighted to be home for the holidays.   Another happy year at school is over.  Well apart from a two week summer camp anyway.

Yesterday I was at her school: for a meeting and an IEP Review, which is always a joy to attend, because every teacher says lovely things about her!  And she has made some progress since last September:

....Her choice-making has improved, and she regularly uses pictures to make clear choices.

...She now understands and responds to a large number of Lámh signs.  Memo to self: must use them at home too.

...Cooking has always been something that she enjoys - especially the results.  Now she is enjoying the process more since the school introduced her to jelly switches, which enable her to control food mixers and liquidisers.  Can't wait to get one of those for home use too.

And then we started talking about the iPad and toys and how to keep her entertained with something that is age-appropriate - one little phrase that causes hackles to rise in so many people.  Once upon a time I was determined that she would be just like other children.  So I taught her to drink through a straw, bought her aprons to use instead of bibs, and discouraged the use of rattles and other baby things.    But now I can see that if a child - or adult - with severe disabilities wants to play with or use something, then it should not matter if it is obviously aimed at a younger age group.

But you see that doesn't quite work with my daughter.  And it was very reassuring to hear her teacher agree with me:  Give Smiley a toy or app at her intellectual level but designed to appeal to a 2 year old and she may play with it briefly, but will soon discard it, and sometimes she actually does look offended!

Well would you like this if you were 16?

Most toys have the same problem - and her teacher agreed with me that the iPad is just perfect for her, but most of the apps for her developmental level are not.

So Mr or Mrs App Developer, why can't there be more apps like this?

Suitable for any age, yes?
I'm sure I'll be asking that question more than once as the summer holidays slowly unfold.  But today went well: in typical teen style she enjoyed TV, cake, a little light exercise, and a Katy Perry party in the kitchen thanks to Vevo - now that is an entirely age appropriate App!

Like MTV the way it used to be :)
In other news, Smiley made it onto the main evening news for her role in this week's protests against planned cuts to special needs education. Although by this stage she was fed up with looking at other people's backs and had stopped smiling...


Green is not my favourite colour - it brings back bad memories of avocado bathroom suites, remember them?  I like it best in nature, preferably sun-kissed.  And much, much better as a setting for other, more brilliant shades, like these:

Or to signify calm and welcome:

 To help brighten up a dull day:

To bring back happy memories of days out with the children:

This is for this week's Gallery, on the theme of green.  Joining in is a lovely way to brighten up your day - it's certainly improved mine...

We don't go on holidays, but we do go to Dáil Éireann..

When is a cut not a cut?  

When special needs assistants are losing their jobs?
When schools have been told they will get a reduction in resource hours and SNAs?
When children with additional needs will have suffered a 25% reduction in their recommended hours since 2011?

The Tánaiste insisted, however: “There is no cut. There is no cut in the allocation of money for special educational needs.”

I'm so tired of this, I'm so sick of my children being targeted.  I'm so fed up with them being soft targets.  Because that's what they are.

And if the Government thinks that you're a soft target, they'll cut your services and welfare payments.

Any group can become 'soft':

...If they don't protest
...If the government can successfully label them as lazy or useless or scroungers
...If they protest too often, like the Irish farmers

Just a little recap....

Smiley's school, then and now.  

Remember these are children with severe and profound learning difficulties, disabilities and complex medical needs.

Then: 4 children in a class, with 1 teacher and 2 SNAs.
Now: possibly 6 children in a class from September.

Then: A separate medical staff, who handled the feeding, changing and medical needs of the children.
Now: The classroom staff do most of that.

Then: Individual one-to-one and group therapy with a therapist.
Now: The classroom staff are trained to do the therapy and carry it out in the classroom.

Then: Respite and afterschool care when parents needed it.
Now: No after school or holiday care (apart from a 2 week summer camp in July) and respite on dates chosen by committee.

Yep, my daughter used to have a 5* service.  But what of the children starting school now?  All the staff at Smiley's school are absolutely wonderful, but there is only so much they can do, and so many hours in the day.  At the very least there will be much less one-to-one time.

My son's new school

And what of my son?  Well he starts secondary school in September, at a school that caters for a lot of students with additional needs.  Yet they will have a reduction in SNA support.  And already this year the psychologist attached to my son's service resigned and cannot be replaced, just as he heads into the tricky teenage years.  It for him that I have to fight these cuts.  Even if it is pointless as I'm always being told.  Even if the issue has gone off the political agenda, as radio commentators have claimed.  Even though it means that I probably go to Dáil Éireann more than almost anywhere else apart from the supermarket!

I have to do something, and I will feel better when I do.  Especially when I meet all the other committed parents who feel exactly the same way.

A number of protests countrywide are being organised for next Wednesday.  I'm going to this one.  Hope to see you there....

Picture from a previous protest that I attended...

Stuff I can't say, but I'm going to anyway

Today is not a good day.  Yet again the Government is cutting services to my kids and others like them.  I'm fed up, tired and angry.  I will be protesting and I will be blogging about it too: I bet you can't wait!  But in the meantime I need to destress.  And to avoid throwing darts at the radio or shouting at my kids, I'm going to indulge in a little bit of answering back, here on the blog.  I'm just as opinionated as the next blogger but since I have a bad habit of saying - and typing - the wrong thing, I often don't comment on the interwebs even when I have plenty to say.  But I'm going to say it here instead, an idea shamelessly borrowed from the wonderful @Jillsmo of Yeah, Good Times, who I *think* gave me permission.

So this is just some of the stuff that I didn't say to people on Facebook, Twitter etc over the past few weeks...

... Just stop ******* arguing.

... Actually you do have a sense of entitlement.

... Yes kids do do that!

... Nope, I still prefer parties.

... I'm really not that into kittens...

... Just get over yourself, people say the wrong thing all the time, especially me.

... No, I don't like it when you @me to retweet this or sign that, unless you're a real friend of course :)

... When I say xxx I mean so much more than that, it's just that I can't find the 'right' words and I'm afraid of typing up the wrong ones.

... Please like my status update, PLEASE? anyone?

... No, I don't want to...

... Stop being so unpleasant every time I post please.  Clearly I'm not in with the in-crowd but all I did was ask an innocent question.

... I like your stuff, but I hate Triberr.  Do you know you're sharing old posts that I've seen before? Advertorials?  That's why I don't click your links any more.

Now that makes me feel cleansed, and definitely a bit more cheerful.  What about you?  What are your pet hates on here?

Thoughts on being 51

Turning 50 was a landmark, almost exciting, but 51 means that I am really in my fifties.  Which sounds dull and serious in a pipe and slippers kinda way.

It all starts when the alarm goes off.  Gone are the days when I could leap out of bed. That could be lethal for someone of my age - did you know that 20 people in the UK alone die from falling out of bed every year?  It's a sobering thought.  Not that I need sobering at 6am in the morning any more: all-night parties are just a vague and distant memory.  So it's slow and careful these days....

Then there's the food.  The punishment is swift and unpleasant when I don't eat healthily.  Most foods either makes me fat or ill, especially anything that I really like.   Munch on a carrot and a few lettuce leaves and I'll be fine.  A curry and a beer will be regretted for days, in fact I don't even like the taste of curry now.  Then there's the matter of exercise. You really don't feel much like exercising when you're in your 50s.  It's not like you're ever going to run a personal best or anything exciting: it's all about maintenance.  Lolling on the sofa now seems a lot more attractive, and sleeping even more so!

And what should women in their 50s wear?  Mostly we are invisible.  Or we used to be, apart from my mum with her elegant suits and blouses and tailored trousers, but she was slim and beautiful with a barely a grey hair on her head.  Who are the role models of today?  Matronly politicians in brightly coloured suits?  Sharon Stone?  I don't really identify with either.  I have currently adopted a wardrobe of sludge-coloured clothes, in the hope that if the colour is discrete, then perhaps the style can be more youthful.

Then there's the serious side of ageing.  Yesterday I woke up to the sad news that the husband of a friend of mine had died, and today actor James Gandolfini's death was announed.  At the age of 51.   I'm thinking I'm lucky,  I seem to be healthy, I have the company of my children, the support of my friends and family, a roof over my head, several jobs.  My life is full of love and meaning.  I must remember to treasure it.

So what did I do today?  Apart from another morning trip to the North with a friend, the highlights of my birthday were a proper Skype call to Angel in the US, and Smiley's face when she saw the birthday cheesecake with the candle on it!  My son did his best, but he finds special occasions stressful.

And I nearly forgot Facebook!  Say what you like about social media, but I have never enjoyed so many good wishes as I do now.  They cast a warm glow over the whole day and eventually 51 doesn't seem nearly so bad after all...

Still no diagnosis

Every couple of years I meet with Smiley's neurologist, and every time the result is the same: she is still a medical mystery.  She's had the MRI scan, she's been through the genetic testing and the latest micro-array, and nothing, nothing, has showed up of any significance at all.

Yet she is so very different to other children.

And cerebral palsy was not mentioned at all at this meeting.  It clearly has become a badge of convenience: a label she needs to get services.  Undiagnosed was the term used by the neurologist, so perhaps it is time to embrace the unknown.

He noted that she has contractures but no spasticity, severe disabilities but no seizures.  A difficult premature birth, but no apparent brain damage.

Most of the time we just motor on, but sometimes I really wish that I could find a community of other Smiley children.  Wouldn't it be lovely to make contact, to discuss how we all cope, what might lie ahead, and even better, to see the joy of a room-full of children like my special girl?

And I remembered another reason this week too.

I had a little wobble about Smiley thanks to an article in the Irish papers about adult services being denied to a teen with severe disabilities.  Just like her.  And she is leaving school in two years time.  What will be there for her, and who do I ask?  Her social worker is out, her replacement is on two week's holidays, and no-one else will talk to me.  It's not urgent, so why should they?

I asked Google what happens to children with severe disabilities when they grow up.  I wanted to know who they live with, how they pass their days, what services are available, and what does my daughter deserve.  Google suggested my own blog, which shows just how little information there is out there.

I spent Friday afternoons ringing around organisations in the UK and Ireland, but with very little to show for it.  No, I don't think my daughter will be attending workshops, no she has no diagnosis, so no there are no specific organisations that I can ring for advice.

There was a report some years ago on Irish television about a couple who were caring for their adult son with severe disabilities, and some days they could barely find the energy to get him out of bed.  It stuck in my head.  I hope my future with my daughter will not be like that.

I just want her life to be like this all the time...

Saturday June 15th 2013

This post has been submitted to a blog hop to celebrate Undiagnosed children's Day 2014.


G is for Guilt

Dear Me,

Do you remember what it was like before you had kids?  You didn't feel guilty in those days.  And then again, the first four years of mother hood were largely guilt free too.  You went out to work, but Angel had a wonderful childminder, who we still visit, and you were pretty sure that you were a 'good-enough' parent, and that she would turn out fine.  And so she has.

It was the arrival of special needs and the break up of your marriage that led to you being dished out an extra large helping of guilt, perhaps to make up for what went before.

Now you have it in spades.  You carry your guilt around with you like a bag of stones on your back. Guilt over not doing enough for your kids, even though you know that you will never ever be able to do enough.  Guilt over feeling sorry for yourself when you know that so many people are so much worse off.  Guilt over writing this instead of doing something useful.

Yet you know that guilt is usually a pretty useless emotion.  After all, your counsellor says so. Oh yes, and you feel guilty about going to counselling too, it feels like a indulgence when there is so much else that you think needs your attention.

She says it's very simple.  If you feel guilty, can you make amends?  Or if not, can you forgive yourself?  Whichever, you need to move on, as guilt can stifle your life.  Maybe for some it's a safety blanket.  Their guilt is an excuse to stay where they are.

Guilt is also used by the state, especially towards women.  Just keep stoking up the conflict between stay-at-home and working mothers and neither group will question what is society doing to support children.  It's a tool of control.  And when we make others feel guilty, is it often about ourselves?  About absolving ourselves of responsibility, or about revenge.

You didn't feel guilty when you were a child, when you were a wayward teen, or when you were young, free and single.  It's only now, when you do less for yourself than you ever did in your life, that guilt is always there beside you, tapping on your shoulder.

G is for Guilt, but it also stand for Good, Glad, Glamorous, Gorgeous, Generous, Grand and Glorious.

Why don't you choose those G-words instead?

Love Me.

Written at the request of a wonderful new blogger Mrboosmum.  Head over to her blog here to read more letters on giving up guilt.

What does a groupie do when she grows up?

I was riveted by a documentary about The Eagles on Saturday night.  Not my normal choice of music, but the band was part of the soundtrack to my teenage years.  It was an amazing story brilliantly told, and yes the songs are pretty memorable, even if you don't like them that much!  Peppered with clips of the music and the backstage shenanigans, it also featured lot of commentary from the band members, who are alive and articulate.   Most of all, they were brazenly unrepentant.  In fact I thought I saw a glint in their eyes and relish in their voices as they described what they could remember.

In today's straight-laced world where one photo of an aspiring pop star falling out of a night club can ruin a promising career, it seems almost unbelievable.  We all have to be like Gwynnie now.  In the 1970s it was all about the drink, the drugs, the girls, the excess, the trashing of hotel rooms, and mad, crazy stuff, that just, well, happened.

They survived.  But what about the girls who hung out with them?  There was a lot of footage of girls...

What about the groupies?

What happens when they grow up?  There have been thousands of successful rock and roll bands, so there must be tens of thousands of groupies.  Have you ever met one?

Perhaps they all keep very quiet about it.  Maybe you have have a former groupie living next door.  Who is high up in marketing and wears Jaegar suits.  Instead of what she used to wear.  Or not.

Perhaps they haven't forgotten.  Maybe there are Groupie Groups on Facebook where they all hang out and try to top each other's stories.   Perhaps they stalk their former crush through the web.  What does he look like now?

Does a groupie steal a T shirt from his hotel room and leave it unwashed in a drawer for 30 years?  Or longer?  Or does she just dump the vinyl collection of all his records at the local car boot sale without a second thought?

And what about you?

Are you ashamed of what you got up to in your teenage years?  Afraid that your kids will find out?  Or do you secretly remember and smile...

PS: I am going to be VERY busy this summer, so I may not be blogging as much as usual.  But I would love some guest posts if any of my friends are interested?  Just contact me on stilllookingforbluesky at gmail dot com.

On the last day

It's just me and her on the last day of the long weekend, as aspie boy has gone back to school.  I was expecting problems, but there were none.  So for a few hours there will be no treading on eggshells and we can do what we like…

I promise to reply to all your lovely comments and visit and read soon, but for this morning, I am going out with my special girl to enjoy a perfect summer's day in Dublin :D

Can you tell she'd rather watch TV than look at the camera?

Eight songs that stop me breaking plates

I hate bank holidays.  I really do.  Especially sunny ones.  They just emphasise how different life is in this family now.   Towards the end of the afternoon we did get out briefly, after much negotiation, but not before I'd got frustrated and upset and even angry.  Obviously being the responsible adult, I was trying very hard not to show or even feel it.  But when I found myself crying into my lunch, I knew I had to do something.  A healthy choice was needed!

Breaking plates always feels like a good plan, and once upon a time my Dad offered to send over a supply of spares just in case.  But I guess it wouldn't set a very good example to my children.  Something else was needed, because I need to deal with anger too.  There I've said it.  Even though I hate anger, I still feel it.  Sometimes it's useful, when it's about injustice and motivates people to act.  But mostly it's not.  Mostly it's exhausting and depressing.

My son and I talk about anger a lot.  He says that none of the suggestions from the therapists really help.  When he's angry he wants to do something with it, not calm down.  I get that, I really do.  If you'd suggested a wee bit of meditation at lunch time, you would have heard me decline politely, but I would have been thinking something else entirely!

Perhaps the emphasis on calming down is sometimes about pleasing other people and helping them to feel safe and comfortable.  Not always about helping the person who is angry.  At home my son has found that isolating himself with his video games, and sometimes being mute for a while helps him to cope too.

Music is one thing that works for me.  Loud music.  I can channel my feelings into the songs, until my head feels clearer.

So instead of smashing plates I put on the Smashing Pumpkins...

And so the list goes on...

Sinead O'Connor with Troy cos it gives me goose bumps

Rural Alberta Advantage - just because...

No list of mine is ever complete without the B52s...

Or Nirvana...

Heathers - Forget Me Knots - because it's okay not to feel okay..

And coming out the other side ..

Metric - Gimme Sympathy

And finally, The Pogues

Best of all, Smiley will dance along to all of these, as she knows them so well.  And once they're done, I can face the day again.  Because my son has had a great weekend, and I need to try and share some of that happiness with him.

This post was partly inspired by the wonderful Miss Cisco over at The Ramblings of a Formerly Rock'n'Roll Mum.

Also apologies if you read my 30 Day Song Challenge from a while back, as some of the songs are the same.

Silent Sunday 2.6.13

Silent Sunday

What if...

It's more than 50 years since I was born, and somehow I thought that during my lifetime the world would become a better place.  It hasn't happened.  Instead the news is stuffed full of stories about cruelty, violence, greed and indifference, to the poor, the sick and the vulnerable.  Yet there are occasional glimpses of hope, such as the women who bravely tackled the killers of the soldier who was murdered in London recently.  So I started wondering.

How could the world be changed so that doing the right thing was normal?  What would it take?

What if Governments put the needs of citizens above the needs of banks, bondholders and corporate giants?

What if teaching the young and caring for the old  - and vice-versa - became the most prestigious jobs a person could do?

What if people started saving up for things again instead of borrowing and hoping?

What if banks stopped speculating and went back to old fashioned banking:  taking in money from savers and then lending it out to borrowers?

What if the damning phrase  "not making enough profit" was banned?

What if children were encouraged to follow their dreams and not the points system?

What if toddlers were let play and not moulded and hot housed by "early education"?

What if there could be international agreement that some stuff could be banned from the internet, and some have restricted access?

What if health and safety regulations could be adjusted so they make the lives of people better rather than appeasing insurance companies or making quangos and politicians look good?

What if incentives were given to manufacturers and construction companies to make and build things that actually last?  Quality over quantity?

What if whistle-blowers were treated as heroes and heroines and their reports listened to and acted upon?

What if companies stayed true to their mission statements, both in word and spirit?

What if companies could make beautiful products and want to give something back to society?

What if driving became fun again, and cycling and walking became safer and easier?

What if the energy, passion and enthusiasm of teenagers and young people could be harnessed as a force for good?

What if the wisdom and experience of older people could be valued?

What if the squeezed middle-aged could be given a break, so that families no longer have to struggle with caring for two generations, working two jobs and funding at least one mortgage and often healthcare and education as well?

What if we remembered the power of Mother Nature, and stopped thinking that we can improve on everything that she has provided for us?  The food, the natural resources, the environment.

What if once a baby was born, they had the right to life, to a good life?  That they would be given every chance and every opportunity.

What if we all stopped judging and started helping?

What if we could do all this, and still have fun, occasionally buy pointless but lovely handbags and gadgets, still play loud music, still dance and sing and let our hair down and walk on the beach and smile....wouldn't the world be a better place then?