Thursday, February 14, 2008

NORMAL!?!

This evening I was looking through one of those parenting magazines and some choice words fell from my lips before even realizing it. All I read of the article was the title and that was enough to make me close the mag. The title was, "What Normal Babies Should Be Doing". I may be a little sensitive, but who can blame me with having a sweet little baby at home with Down syndrome. The word "normal" has changed for me in the last five months. Normal to me now is a gazillion doc. visits resulting in failed hearing tests, a failed vision test and the so-called "routine" heart surgery that our son Ian underwent. "Normal" has become subjective to me and to many others with children with special needs.

20 comments:

Laurie said...

I always choke on that word now. I don't know if it offends me, frustrates me, depresses me, or enrages me. I guess a little bit of all of those.

Annie's Porch said...

Laurie- Yeah, I'm with you on that one.

Anonymous said...

Normal usually refers to the 60% of the population that falls under the middle part of the bell curve. If you have more than one "normal" child, you will see that everyone is different.
And for the record, I have a very "normal" son who didn't roll over until gym class at age 3, so normal kids do normal things at different times.
Enjoy your son and let him show you what his norm is. I'm sure he'll get lots of attention and lots of help from all the people who love him. That, to me is what's normal.
Btw. saw the video of Ian eating, too cute. My youngest is almost 6 months old, we're at that stage too.
Mother of 3 vikings in Iceland.

Chris said...

I think the fact that the word "normal" was even in the title is telling. The writer at least recognizes that there are children that are not developing within these norms. Years ago, I think those children were not even given a second thought.

Wish there was a better way of recognizing the differences though. Funny thing about that word normal. It doesn't bother me as much when it is used to describe my daughters; it just bothers me that it can't be used to describe my son. Guess that makes me somewhat of a hypocrite huh?

Anonymous said...

My major professor(psych, sorry)used to drone on and on about metaphor, language, and meaning - it drove his whole approach to the point where we 20 somethings rolled our eyes. Like my parents, he's gotten a lot smarter, the older I've gotten. This little event in our lives thrusts us into a semantic slush, where even the most normal words aren't, anymore. Language isn't as casual as it used to be. Being thoughtful can make one's brain hurt. But your heart grows.

bella said...

Annie,
I am so happy to be here, reading your words, connecting with you in this way. I'm so grateful you have chosen to start this blog.
And this post made me realize why. We need these voices speaking honestly, speaking truth.
It IS insensitive and ignorant. All the measuring, the keeping score that such a word conjures, it is disheartening.
throw the magazine away. you're much wiser than anything you'd find there.
Love to you.

Chris said...

Semantic Slush--I like that Eblog.

Normal, typical, albed, disabled, special, differently abled

Does it really matter what words we use? In the end, it doesn't change what the reality of the situation is.

Sometimes, I feel like we worry so much how people speak. We should be putting our energy into changing people's hearts. Change the hearts and the words will follow.

Kim Ayres said...

One of the earliest comments on my blog came from the father of a lad with DS when I written a piece about it. His comment, which I've never forgotten was:

"He was damned to difference before conception with parents like my wife and me"

My son does not have DS but I wouldn't call him "normal" either. None of our kids are.

Annie's Porch said...

Mother of 3 vikings in Iceland- Thank you for your encouraging words. I'll have to remember to take things at our own pace. Thanks for the reminder.

Chris- I DO understand about there seeming to be a double-standard because our daughter, Silvi, is a so-called "typical" child. If I'm being truthful with myself I have to admit that the word "normal" is ok to use for her, but not for Ian. I guess I'm a hypocrite too. Thanks for calling me on the carpet.

Annie's Porch said...

elbog- True, true. I really like how you said that our hearts grow through being thoughtful. Nicely written too.

Bella- Thank you for your kind words. Great to meet you too.

Chris- I like that very much- "change the hearts and the words will follow"

Kim- I appreciate your understanding.

Yankee said...

Hi Annie,
Welcome to the richer experience. You have an excused absence from those ridiculous coffee klatches where moms sip their coffee and brag about the percentiles in which their children fall. Come on over here with us. We tell off color jokes and spike our coffee with Kahula!

Annie's Porch said...

Yankee- Actually Kahlua sounds fantastic right about now! Thanks!;0)

Bella- Tom told me who you are, boy do I feel dumb!!! SO FAB to hear from you! I was SO jealous when Tom told me he was to meet up with you guys. I'm bummed it didn't work out. Wish I had a few hundred extra bucks to pop down and see you. Sending lots of love to you.

February 16, 2008

waldenhouse said...

Normal is definitely being redefined around here too. I have been especially hit with the "norms" lately as my son is going through lots of testing to tell us that he is not "normal" for his age.
I have the same reaction as you do but I must say there are many many days when I look around at other nearly three year olds and I am thankful that Wil is not "normal!"

Annie said...

Waldenhouse- Hang in there. I'm sure it must be difficult going through the tests. I wish you courage and stamina.

CristyLynn said...

I hate the word normal.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I "found" you on your husband's blog, which I've enjoyed reading.

Anonymous said...

Hi Annie! I am so glad you are writing. I love reading Tom's blog and getting to know my cuz better, but as a woman/wife/mother I constantly found myself wondering what your perspective is. I am so happy you are sharing it! :>

Per this post - I agree with whoever said to throw the mag away. I have 3 "normal" boys and still don't read parenting mags because they either stress me out or make me mad.

You what's funny to me is that no one would have the gall to write "What normal 35 years olds should be doing" and the like. :>

annie said...

What the hell is normal anyway? There are definitely average ages for achieving milestones, but to call something "normal" just adds more pressure to parents if their kids don't fit the "norm." Your comments made me think of the article in Brain, Child about classifying neurodiverse kids and the movement toward celebrating this as a culture, rather than trying to make the kids fit in "normal" ranges. Anyway, the website is www.brainchildmag.com and the article is called Disorder or Identity. I hope it can bring a little peace.

Davina said...

Thanks for writing this.

Annie's Porch said...

Davina-Thanks for popping by my blog!

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