The other day, I heard someone talking about just wanting their child to be a “normal, happy child”. I got stuck on that term “normal”. What is a “normal” child? Is the kid who sits still in school all day and pays attention normal and happy? What about the one itching to get outside and returns home covered in mud after chasing frogs all afternoon?
I never felt that either my LW (Lovely Wife) or I came from “normal” families. We both had parents who were curious about the world, took classes when others were in the workforce, started and ran businesses. And then, at a time in life when they should be settling in with all of the neighbors, both sets pulled up roots and moved…BIG moves. That certainly can’t be normal, is it?
My brother and I had a happy childhood, but was it normal? His idea of fun was playing football and tennis and basketball. He would head off of a summer day and come back late having exhausted himself physically. He seemed happy (until the teen years when we were both miserable wrecks, but that is a story for another day) and pretty normal, I should think. I liked to read and swim. There was always a book in close proximity to me and a great hang out was the library. I had plenty of friends who shared these past times with me, so I never felt abnormal. And I was happy.
So when The Boy has friends over and I find them reading in his room, or playing games on different devices, I do not think it is too strange. The interaction may not be direct, but they are happy. Should they be constantly outside playing football? What level books should he be reading? He started reading at the age of three, should I worry about that being normal?
The society has a path for normal. It includes school and work and responsibility, all things I want for my son and our family. But I have never felt that it has to be on the schedule allotted. We were never concerned that he was reading early, why should we be concerned that he does other things late?
I’ve heard it said that kids grow up despite their parents. All we can do is open opportunities, encourage investigation and discovery, and the boy will turn out okay.