Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The New Normal

The other day a high school friend posted on Facebook that her husband was out of town and she was worried about getting everyone ready on time in the morning, so she put her children to bed in their school clothes instead of pajamas. I'm sure that she meant it be one of those confessional moments when you admit just how low you've stooped as a parent while trying to represent to your children that you are totally in control and that this is a perfectly normal thing to do.

Goodness knows, I've been there. I've done a shot of vinegar to get the Baby to take her Tylenol. I told the Boy that a pink baseball glove was "dark beige" to get him to stop pestering me. Just this past Saturday, the K took the Girl to the doctor because the poor thing cannot kick the cold that she caught from the Baby. I had to get the Boy to his basketball game and I realized that the Christmas tree was still tied to the roof of the minivan. We were late, as always, so I yelled at the Boy to get me some scissors, shimmied to the top of the swagger wagon, cutting anything resembling twine and shoving the tree towards the hood of the car. The Boy stood there, mouth agape.
Me: What?
Boy: Is that how you're supposed to get the tree off the roof?
Me: Oh yes, totally. This is the best way to do it. 
We're lucky I didn't break the windshield. Poor the Boy. One day he'll be an adult with a Christmas tree on the roof of the car and he'll be climbing all over the place like a monkey and his girlfriend will break up with him because he doesn't know how to get a tree off a car roof properly. Which will be fine because she won't be good enough for him. Then he'll break into my room and rock me in a chair like that creepy "Love You Forever" book.

I mean, this book gets four stars from Amazon even with this terrifying Norman Bates-esque picture. I have to tell you that my fondest hope for each of my children is that they grow up to be independent people who would never sneak into my bedroom, pluck me out of bed and fold me into the fetal position on their laps.

The good news about kids is that they are easily convinced that everything you do, as a parent is the way to do things. When I was little, there was a family down the street with a son who was about 12 or 13. One year, he got a new bike for his birthday and his dad was out on the sidewalk, putting it all together. The dad put the handlebars on backwards, so the kid was wobbling up and down the street, hunched over the wrong-way handlebars, trying not to steer into a tree. The kid was like, "I think something's wrong!"

"Nah, that's the way they're supposed to be. It's a 10-speed!" The dad yelled back, as his son rode into our neighbor's Gremlin.

My own father, Dad was a victim of this phenomenon. When he was little, Dad was a "wanderer." My grandmother wanted him to get fresh air (as fresh as the air was in Filthadelphia), but was concerned that he might get into trouble if he was left unattended. So, she bought a dog collar and rope and tethered Dad to the front porch. He could only run so far in each direction until the rope would yank him back. Dad roars with laughter as he tells the story of calling to passersby on the street to come and untie him so that he could roam freely. I think it took the horrified looks on Sister and my faces to make him realize that this was not normal.

I know this is tethered swimming, but I just couldn't resist. Plus, a gif! Makes me feel like a hipster.

In college, I took a creative writing class and a classmate wrote a story the plot of which I have no recollection, but it involved a family dinner table scene where siblings fought over who got the "ass" of the bread. Our professor asked the author why he decided to use the term "ass" instead of "heel" of the bread. It turned out that the guy had only heard the end piece of a loaf of bread referred to as the "ass." His parents had clearly taught him that this was the proper, normal name and he had no reason to question them.

My classmate's parents probably didn't know the alternate/non-profane term for the heel of the bread, so I'll give them a pass. But my father-in-law imparted some questionable (at best) linguistic advice to my sister-in-law. When SIL was little, she asked her father, "if women's chests are called bosoms, what are men's chests called?" My father-in-law, wanting to change the subject immediately and not knowing the answer said, "posoms." My poor SIL spent the next 12 years referring to men's chests as "posoms."

Sometimes I will grow impatient with the children when they're being silly, rolling on the ground, wrestling, punching each other in the posoms, and generally driving me crazy. "Please just be normal human beings!" I'll yell at them. No one has ever questioned me on this, but now I'm wondering if they even know what normal means. I kind of wonder if I know, myself.


  1. Susanah, You really must allow the B, G & B to sleep in their next day clothes at least once. You'll never look back. Note>>>>>>It's 6:00 a.m., Andy, though not yet awake, is dressed for school minus the shoes & I have the time to leisurely drink coffee & read your blog! Wrinkles you ask. Oh well I reply!!

    1. Ha! I actually sleep in my workout clothes so I don't have to change in the morning when I get up. So, I am on board with the whole thing. I promise that if Fave keeps the same start time next year that it has this year, the Girl will be sleeping in her clothes and possibly eating her breakfast on the way to catch the bus.

  2. I prepped myself pre-read for some weird scene between you and your mom. Funn!

    1. I tried to think of something my own parents did to me, but I must have repressed everything. Thank goodness!

  3. I wore half of my high school uniform to bed. I'd jump out of bed in the am and put on my kilt (sometimes while my ride was waiting outside), which was usually hemmed with staples or tape. Classy, I know. That's the beauty of uniforms!