What’s Normal Anyway?

I caught myself wistfully wishing that my kids were normal today.  It was tinged with frustration, sadness, and a tiny bit of raging anger against the universe.  Who am I kidding?  My family isn’t normal in any way, including Mr. Genius and myself.  We have our own normal but it’s certainly not average.

Today was a long day.  We loaded everything up and headed to the library for our Pine Ridge stocking stuffing event (great job guys!) then loaded everything back up and headed out to a doctor’s appointment for the Engineer.  Have to get the ball rolling on the assessments and tests.  It was a tough situation for the kids, and it was a high demand situation for me because I organized the event.  I couldn’t dump everything on the floor and say “have fun!” and hang out with my kids, I had to run the event and sort out the mess I had created.


At one point, I looked up to see my 3-year-old happily lounging on the benches outside of the community room where we were doing the event.  He had opened the door and escaped, undetected by any adult until a friend pointed him out to me.

The same friend kept the Engineer from covering the entire event in sparkles, because he thought if one pack of sparkly glitter-ish decorations is good, then all 6 opened and spread around is better, right?   I am super thankful for my friends because they literally help keep the kids safe!


As I sat on the floor packing stockings back into the boxes after they were filled, I watched other people’s kids help fill stockings.  I felt slightly bitter and sad that my kids weren’t capable of helping in the same way, and were creating havoc and destruction wherever they went.  In fact, the most helpful thing mine did was to play calmly with the empty boxes and stay out-of-the-way.

Comparison truly is the devil.  For my family’s grade of normal, the kids did great.  They didn’t keep playing with the automatic blinds, turn the lights on and off, and empty all the stockings (that was a close one though.)  They played quietly, listened to other adults who asked them to stop messing around in the glitter, and calmly helped tote bags back and forth to the car.  They did pretty good minus a few …. issues.

For other family’s grade of normal, the kids contributed to the event.  They helped pack the stockings.  They worked – and some of them worked really hard!  In fact, they did what people expect of kids: behaved, stayed calm, and listened to adults.

My kids looked like brats.  They acted like brats, but they were doing the best they could in a difficult situation for them.  I’m probably the only one who actually thinks that: I’m pretty sure that the homeschool group tolerates us instead of enjoying our company.  We’re that family.


I would love to have a week – a day even! – where I didn’t feel like a horrible parent because of how my kids behaved.  See, the thing is, the other parents don’t parent much differently than I do.  I’m judging this from what I see in public, of course, but it’s pretty standard parenting.  Their kids don’t run off into the street, try to destroy everything they can, and trumpet defiance at the top of their lungs.  What am I doing wrong?

Lots, actually – because that’s what parenting is about – but nothing so horribly wrong to cause this kind of behavior.


At one point at the doctors’ appointment, the staff thought we were there for a behavioral assessment because of how the Engineer was acting.  I have no idea what triggers the Engineer so badly at the doctor’s offices, but it’s a new level of hell only slightly higher than the car repair place.

Going to the doctor requires superhuman levels of patience, a deep bag of tricks to placate and entertain, and a super strict mommy police willing to follow through with all consequences.  It’s hard.  It’s more than hard.

As I sat on the floor restraining the toddler from attacking me while ordering the Engineer to leave the medical equipment alone, I wanted to cry.  Why does it have to be this hard?  Will it always be like this?  Will my kids grow up into defiant adults who sass the wrong person, mess with the wrong thing, and end up in jail or worse?

I just want my kids to be normal.  To not be so difficult.  And even though I know that this is our normal I still wistfully look over the fence and think of how lovely it would be if my kids obeyed without a formal, long-winded complaint, a thesis on the unfairness of childhood, or a stonewall of defiance.  I don’t even know what normal looks like – I just know we don’t have it.


This is our normal: chaos.  Craziness.  Strong-willed and obstinate.

Sure is looking greener over there.

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