Is My Kid Normal?

As I write this, I’m preparing to take my five-year-old son, The Professor, in for developmental testing. His teachers have noticed a few areas where he falls below his peers and have suggested we get him evaluated to see if there are any local resources that can help. This type of evaluation is quite common, and very popular in my area – in fact, we’ve been waiting for this appointment for more than three months due to the demand. It’s quite likely that nothing is out of the ordinary with his development, and even if there are some areas we need to work on, they are likely minor, and addressing them now will help him for his entire life. There’s nothing bad about this. Nothing at all. It’s good to watch out for our children and make sure they are on track with their peers.

But.

The part of me that is championing this blog and encouraging celebration of absolute acceptance of ourselves wants to scream! I so strongly believe that we need to honor our differences and love ourselves because of our so-called weaknesses, not just in spite of them. There is absolutely no one in the world this sentiment applies to more than my own children. You can take every remark I’ve ever made on this blog or in real life pertaining to love and acceptance and multiply it by a million, and that’s what I wish for my sons.

I don’t have grandiose dreams for my children. I gave them life so they could live it, not check off things on a to-do list I create for them. They need to follow their own paths, not satisfy my unfulfilled dreams. As every parent desires, I just want my sons to be happy.

Happy, and normal.

Normal is such a loaded word. It has been bugging me, so I actually looked up the definition, and here’s what I found: Normal ~ adjective. 1. Conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural. 2. Serving to establish a standard.

Well, maybe I don’t want my kid to be normal. Why should he have to conform to the common type? So what if he doesn’t fit into the standard of each little box our education system wants to put him in? Why should we want to put our children into boxes, anyway? At every job I’ve ever worked at, there’s always been a boss or manager or receptionist talking about how we have to “think outside the box.” Why do we want to keep our children in a box, just to tell them later to think outside of it? And who decides what the standard is, anyway?

It’s interesting that I’m considering the normalcy of my child, when indeed our society tends to look down on people who are only average. I can still vividly recall an episode from Grey’s Anatomy in which Meredith’s mother calls Meredith “ordinary,” the word containing such venom and disdain that I cringed. Was it so wrong to be ordinary? Was I ordinary? Was my mom as disappointed in me as Meredith’s mother was in her for her ordinariness?

The kicker is, though, I do want my child to be ordinary. I do want him to be normal. All of us parents want that for their children, if not more. I know from my own experiences that the world can be mean and petty and hard to navigate, and I don’t want my own child to be behind the 8 ball before it even gets rolling. I may think he’s perfect, but society may think he needs to improve in a few areas. Fine. We can do that. We can make sure he adheres to common standards, but I will not let that take away his unique talents or gifts, or strip him of the exceptional character traits that he exclusively has the rights to.

I’m going to take The Professor to the assessment, and we will see what happens. Despite my apprehension, I’m thankful that my community offers resources for our children to help them get the best start possible. I’m grateful for the help, even if I reject a particular label that may be bestowed.  The results of his assessment may point us to additional resources to give him a little boost, but in reality, not a thing will change.

My job will remain the same regardless of where he falls on the spectrum of normalcy. I’m still his mother, his coach and his biggest fan. He has my unconditional love and acceptance today and tomorrow and every day after that simply because he’s him. There’s no test in the world that can change that.

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