The really cool and fun thing about blogging about yourself is that no matter how out there or different you think your experiences may be, you can usually find another traveler who has also journeyed along your particular offshoot path. My doppelganger is my fellow blogger-doc-mom Kayla.
She was quick to let me know that she too shared my oddball, raised indoors, decidedly not normal upbringing. And like me, she seeks to simulate normal as much as possible for her daughters.
So my last post resonated with her a good deal. This led to a discussion of how we wish that there was some Manual for Being Normal that people like us could follow. I think I forgot to tell her that I was so daunted by the idea of free play with my kidlet during her toddlerhood that I actually bought books to help me think of things to do (beyond let’s play nap and be quiet and stop bothering me, two of my mother’s favorite games).
She started us off with a list of things that she’s heard that normal families do. We then began exploring these ideas with the zeal of social anthropologists studying the parenting rituals of the long-isolated Zuglut Tribe of outer Mongolia. (Yes, I just made that up. Don’t go off and start searching for “Zuglut!” Stay with me now!)
Here was her list:
1) Family game night
2) Pick their own fruit
3) Watch their kids compete
4) Start sports/activities before 7th grade
5) Display affection
I was all like, yes, I’ve heard of these activities. When I was a kid, I thought only the people on TV actually did these things, however. I would have sooner heard my mother announce we were taking a trip to Mars than going apple picking! Game night? What was that? All I could remember were drunken holiday games of Monopoly that degenerated into accusations of villainy and treachery before the night was done. We won’t even start on the rarity of kissing or hugging.
However my parents did come to watch me run track in 4th grade. It remains one of my most infamous memories.
It was my first real race where a starter pistol was used. I jumped straight up, startled, when the shot was fired. By the time I had recovered, I was in last place since the others had known to run forward and not straight up into the air. I tried to catch up but couldn’t. I was devastated. And then I had to face my family…
My mother was nearly hysterical with laughter. “That was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen,” she exclaimed, oblivious to my rising shame. “You looked like you had lead in your shoes, you were so slow!” Then she dissolved into another laughing fit.
Yeah, at that point I would have preferred that she had kept her ass home.
I decided to add a few more items to the list Kayla had started:
6) Take family vacations together – I don’t mean the immediate family. I mean collecting the grandparents, siblings, cousins and their families and heading off on a cruise together. It seems like the most bizarre thing ever. The most my family has ever been able to manage was dinner together…with great difficulty.
7) Go as a family to pick the Christmas tree
8) Go to a parade, neighborhood festival, fireworks display or other celebratory congregation of local strangers
9) Share food – Do you know how hard it was for me to learn to share food with friends, boyfriends, my husband? No no no! Your food was the food on your plate, plain and simple. If, as small children, we dared reach for something on Mom’s plate, we found ourselves stabbed in the hand with the quickness. Thus in later years when someone said a “let me try your” whatever it was at the time as his/her fork angled toward my plate, it took all my self control not to commit forkicide. I learned to tell myself, “this is what normals do” and “put the fork down.”
10) Have or patronize garage or rummage sales – People in our little subdivision love to have community garage or yard sales. I think I still look at them as if they are speaking in parseltongue whenever they ask me if I want to participate. Sell my old stuff?! To my neighbors?! What the what?
Why would anyone want to buy any of my old crap? And why in the name of all that is holy would I want to buy their old crap?! It has been used, right? This is likely to be one of the normal rituals that I’ll just have to pass on…seriously.
So OK my peeps. Help me and Kayla out with more lessons on normal family activities. I know you have a ton more you can add to our list, right?