What is normal?
“Well, when kids get older they sometimes think their parents don’t know anything…” We were driving home from baseball practice and I was trying to explain to my kids why the offspring of one of my friends didn’t think a Smart Phone was a good idea.
I continued, “You know when you’re really little and you think your parents are the bestest…”
“Yeah,” my youngest interjected.
“And then when you get a little older you start to get embarrassed by them.” I paused and nudged my oldest who was in the seat next to me.
“Well, you didn’t used to act like you do now, mom.”
“Yes, I did, you just don’t remember.” I went on, “Then when you get a little older (like my friend’s kids) but not quite out on your own yet, you think your parents don’t know anything.”
“You know that saying, ‘You can’t teach an old dog a new trick?’ ”
“Well, never mind. I don’t believe it anyway. It’s never too late to learn something new.”
“So, what about the phone?”
“Well, it will probably be an Android or an iPhone…buttons versus touch screen.”
Thus begun a debate about which was better amongst my kids who have neither, yet know everything there is to know on the subject.
I cut in to conclude, “Then when kids grow up and leave home and have to start doing stuff for themselves, they realize, ‘oh, maybe Mom and Dad did know a little about this or that.’ “
My youngest piped up, “I’ll never be embarrassed of you, Mom.”
“Well…don’t be so sure…”
“I swear to God, I won’t.”
“Thanks, honey.” And noted that my older two were silent.
I remembered one night at dinner not too long ago. “This family is kind of weird sometimes…” my oldest had commented. My younger two had just got up from the table and turned the volume up on the Blues CD we were listening to. We were all grooving, except my oldest.
“Every family has its quirks, I’m sure, honey.”
“No, I don’t think so,” he stated dismissively.
“Oh, c’mon, what do you think goes on behind closed doors in your friends’ houses?”
“Nothing like this – I’m sure they’re all…normal.”
“What is normal, honey?”
“You know…” he paused, searching for a definition. “Just not like this.”
“I see.” I thought back to my own childhood. All I wanted to be was “normal,” too. But what is normal, exactly? I couldn’t put it into words when I was his age, either. All I wanted to do was fit in with everyone else. You know, be myself but not stand out too much…be like other kids but still be myself…
Good thing I learned that normal is just a setting on a washing machine, and that there’s nothing wrong with who you are, even if your kids think you don’t know anything and are embarrassed by you.