Typically I sit around at night doing my best impression of a mother paying attention to the multiple conversations spouting out of her children. They stand around all shouting “MOM” at the same time and then start the rapid fire multi conversations. I guess they think I am the queen of the multi-task. I’m good, but hell no one can listen to all that babble especially when it’s a three for one. I said impression because I have the mastered the art of pretending to listen to the millions of words that come pouring out of the parasites (children for those nicer than me) mouths. I have learned that I can get away with looking in their general direction periodically while actually listening to about every 20 words. As long as I smile and say yes or ok every 100 words they are fooled and I can continue to actually listen to the show I am watching or writing my blog. This skill has saved me millions of hours of mindless conversations about Lego’s and Barbie’s. I don’t mind buying Lego’s and Barbie’s, but I am too damn old to care what outfit she’s wearing, where she is going on her date with Ken, or which Lego spacecraft we are building today. I’m happy they are happy, but I would really rather talk about anything else up to an including bowel movements.
Now as they get older I am being forced to change the actual listening patterns to an extent and listen to the closer to 10 word range. This has gotten to be such a habit that now I can’t help it I actually listen to every 10th word even when they aren’t talking to me. Tonight as I sat here staring at a blank screen trying to decide what to write two of them were sitting across the room talking to each other. My first thought was GLORY HALLELUJAH they aren’t talking to me. After a few minutes I heard one word come out of one and my ears perked up. A few seconds later I heard another and decided to listen a little closer. They were having a conversation about school. One was saying “I know I’m only in advanced classes, but not in Horizon’s (the gifted program) so I guess I’m just normal. The other then said – yep I guess we are just normal. What was said didn’t bother me. It was how they said normal that bothered me.
When did NORMAL become a bad thing?
My solutions was to go straight to the dictionary to look up some definitions of the word normal to try to decide what the problem seemed to be
Normal: conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.
So normal, in it’s most basic form, means conforming to a standard. There are rules (or standards) in everything. Society has standards or rules that most of us are expected to live by in our daily life. So being normal really means agreeing and living by societal standards. Basically it means being a regular person. It means we don’t kill, we don’t steal, we respect authority, we try to hold down a job, we pay our bills, we pay our taxes, we raise our children. In general we do what is expected of us to live in our society.
As I pondered this new phenomenon of the word normal being the new “terrible” thing to be I at first was confused. As I continued to mull it over a while I started to think about conversations I’ve had with other mothers over the years. You know those “super” moms who believe they are raising “phenoms” in multiple disciplines. These are the over achiever moms with the over achieving kids who are running between 3 sports with “extra” specific practices in each, then off to piano and voice lessons, then to the tutors to keep their grades up all for each kid. Those moms who then get home and give their kids specific time lines of their lives from the time their little feet hit the floor in the morning til their heads hit a pillow at bedtime. Inside my house has always just been a loosely scheduled mad house that would rival any good three ring circus. The clowns are always just running a muck.
Maybe it’s my fault my parasites are just “normal”. I may have squished their individuality like a bug. When they were young I established a pattern of normal. As we drove to a destination we would discuss their behavioral expectations at the event. As we sat in the car at the destination they were required to repeat them to me before they were allowed to get out of the car.
The grocery store visit was always my favorite:
Me: What does mommy expect?
Parasites in Unison: I have to stay with you, mind what you say, and not yell
Me: Perfect let’s go
They each learned their lesson the hard way what happens when you don’t follow the expectations.
One ran from me from one side of the store to the other and got a (What I call) a sweet little love tap on his cute little rear end
One decided to throw a temper tantrum to which I sweetly picked her up out of the buggy, sat her on the floor, looked at her lovingly and said “I’m sorry- mommy doesn’t talk to children who behave this way” and calmly walked away and continued shopping (It’s amazing how fast those little eyes dry up and they behavior changes when they realize you aren’t entertaining their behavior nor or you coming back) Have you ever tried to go to the grocery store with three little ones? Trust me-being tarred and feathered would be more pleasant so there has to be some type of “normal”
My second favorite was family gatherings. My hubby and I both come from large families so it happened almost as much as the grocery store.
Me: What are the rules?
Parasites in unison: We must be polite and mind our elders, use our best manners, we shouldn’t interrupt adults conversations, we should shake hands and introduce ourselves and and we should be careful around other peoples stuff
Me: Perfect – let’s go
I also had “God Forbid” behavioral expectations for school
1) Respect your teacher
2) Never “not mind” As they’ve aged it’s changed to be never be disrespectful
3) If you get in trouble at school you get in trouble at home
4) Do your best work
I am a firm believer in organized sports and we play regularly, but I also have always tried to allow each one to have at least 6 months a year that every minute isn’t scheduled and doesn’t produce pressure. They play a lot outside. They play football, kickball, baseball and lots of other invented games in the front yard. They build forts and drive tractors with their granddaddy. They play a few video games and in general just be kids with no pressure to preform other than their standard school day. When it’s time to perform then perform, but when it’s time to play then play. I expect and want them to work hard and play hard cuz isn’t that normal?
Many people today seem to want their kids to be “Super” and “Excel” in everything. I just want and strive for my kids to be normal. Maybe I squished their individuality, but have you ever gotten a compliment from another parent or adult that said “Wow- I am super impressed with your kids individuality and he is welcome here anytime” I bet you haven’t, but you will get a compliment on manners and respect though. Those compliments seem to come regularly now and they make me beam with pride. You can keep your sports compliments, piano compliments, singing compliments, and grade compliments. Those are great, but the them being “normal” compliments are just fine by me. I’ll take “what a nice young man he is for holding the door open for me” any day.
I pray they become more normal everyday. The “Normal” prayer for my children goes something like this: I pray they stay well grounded, know their own strengths and weaknesses and value them, show respect and know their place in the world, have empathy for those with less, and in general become good humans and tax paying citizens!
Normal shouldn’t be the new four letter word. I’m perfectly happy and pray they remain “normal” to everyone else. They can be “special” to me.