Welcome When it comes to our children, parents get pretty passionate, as we should. After all, we are responsible for their health, development, safety, and the foundation of their moral and behavioral structure. So how many parents out there have observed their children and wondered, “Is that normal? Should I be worried?” I promise you I have, many times over the past twelve years. Honestly, I’d be concerned for any parents who have not pondered these things at some point. Amid all these concerns, I don’t really want a “normal” kid, and I’m going to tell you why today.
Food For Thought First of all, when I say “normal,” I want to differentiate from the word “healthy.” We all want our children to be healthy, meaning they experience basically normal physical, emotional, and cognitive development. When a parent of a special needs or physically ill child desires a normal childhood for their kid, it’s a longing for a healthy child, alleviating worry for their physical or mental needs. I feel it very important to distinguish between the two passions we have for our children, healthy versus normalcy. I don’t want to make light or downplay the feelings and difficulties of parents who may be experiencing different types of parenting battles, having little to do with if their kid fits in and is more about the struggle to meet basic physical or mental care needs each day.
The definition of “normal” is stated: conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected. This is the definition I want us to think about when I openly say, I don’t really want a “normal” kid.
Let me share a few things about my soon-to-be twelve-year-old (and yes, she knows I share on my posts): She is our wonderfully odd duck. She proudly proclaims that she is different and she doesn’t mind. She does not share in the typical pre-teen girl interests such as fashion, dance, gymnastics, cheer, hair, make-up, or teen drama shows. She still plays with Lego’s (a lot of them!) She likes Pokémon. She likes dragons and “fantastic beasts.” She likes dinosaurs and Jurassic Park/World. She would rather play video games than soccer or volleyball. She loves school and academics. She spends her time watching Animal Planet, Science Channel, National Geographic, and Nat Geo Wild. She still plays vet with her stuffed animals. She wears sports clothes every single day, except Sunday when we make her put on a pair of dress pants and a sweater for church. While the other girls are starting to talk about their crushes and which boys are cute, my daughter hangs out with boys because they share her interests but thinks dating is “ewww.” She doesn’t have her own phone or social media accounts. She doesn’t have her own television or video game systems. She does have a tablet, but we still monitor what she does on it. Her teachers have shared with us that she doesn’t follow along with the other kids, whether it’s misbehavior or what’s considered popular at the moment. And the more I observe other children these days, the more I am thankful that my daughter is not “normal.”
So much of today’s “normal” teen and pre-teen behavior is bad news. Too much time on electronic devices, apps that share personal information or promote cyber bullying, and media that promote early sexuality and promiscuity. Too many kids living out society’s example of authority is bad and rules are made to be broken, if we don’t like them. Course and crude language or slang is present everywhere. I don’t want my child watching the shows that are popular among her peers. I don’t want my child listening to most of the music that her classmates listen to. I don’t want my child wearing some of the popular fashions I see on other girls her age. I cringe when I hear parents excuse their child’s bad behavior or poor choices because “everybody’s doing it.” Albert Einstein is believed to have said ‘What is right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right’. If she needs to do these things to fit in and be “normal,” then I say “no thank you” to having a normal child.
My child will never be in the popular crowd. She doesn’t always fit in. But she has friends, even more now in middle school, because she is able to find more kids that share her interests. She is respected and appreciated by her teachers and other grown-ups in her life. I used to worry about my child not fitting in, but I’ve been doing a lot of growing up, right along with her. I have a better understanding about what’s important in life, and changing who you are just to fit in will only leave you miserable and depressed, not just for a little while, but for a lifetime. Abandoning your beliefs and morals to fit in only leads to regret and damaged character or reputation. Thinking back to our original definition of “normal,” I don’t want a kid that conforms just to fit in, especially in today’s society. And finally, as Dr. Seuss may have once said, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
Arts and Crafts I really want to encourage everyone this year to grow spiritually through creativity, whether it’s experimenting with Bible journaling, writing a poem of gratitude, or photographing some of God’s beautiful creation. Here are a few of my Bible journaling pages from this week.
As a side note, after visiting my mom over the holidays, I have her hooked on Bible journaling now. I talked with her on the phone yesterday and she was so happy to share what she’s learning and how she sees some of the scriptures in a new light now. It was so heartwarming to hear my mom excited about spending time in her Bible again!