Sunday, September 16, 2012

"Normal" or "Real"?

Week two of Kindergarten, my son was sent home with a poster entitled "All About Me", and a note from his teacher asking for the parents' help with the poster. It would be due back in a week's time. My creative juices started flowing and I had to remind myself that I wouldn't go overboard. This is not about me. However, I can never truly let a creative challenge go unattended, so I talked to Christian about the poster. I asked him for the answers to the questions on the poster. They were:
Name: Christian
Age: 5
Favorite Color: Green (Well...it's really "Green, Blue and Red" and he refuses to choose between them, so I told him that we need to choose just one, so we'll choose green.)
Favorite Animal: Cat
Favorite Food: Fruit
The rest of the questions wanted a drawn picture or a photograph to accompany the answer. They were:
This is what I look like: Attached a photo.
My Family: Attached a photo.
Favorite Place: The beach. Attached a photo.
My Favorite thing to do is: Play with water. (SOOOO True!) Attached a photo.
If I had just one wish, I would wish for: A Dog. Attached a photo by Christian's request of our deceased dog, Buddy. (Cue the heart ache.)

The last question we addressed is a question I've asked my son many times and received the same answer everytime:

When I grow up I want to be....

His answer is the same, everytime.............................When I grow up I want to be: Normal.  When I press him on it, thinking he doesn't really understand the question and offer up answers like Basketball Player? Doctor? City Planner? He says, "NO!! I want to be NORMAL. Like YOU."  I find this answer so amusing. a) Because I don't really know what "Normal" is. and b) "Normal" actually sounds like a pretty great thing to strive to be.  But, just for fun, I considered the picture or photograph that should be attached.  What kind of picture says, Normal?  I giggled to myself as I looked for the funniest, most NOT normal picture of myself that I could find.  I found it in an old folder from a silly book club gathering I attended, where I donned a set of fake teeth and posed with a "What?? Do I look funny?" kind of expression on my face. The photo:


bookclub5 funny face

I added some text across the picture that answered the open ended question of When I grow up I want to be.."Normal...like my Mom." I took a deep breath and as funny as I thought it was, I realized that I was taking a chance that the Kindergarten teacher would get my sense of humor. I mean, she doesn't know me...In absence of actually knowing me, is this just...freaky???

We finished the poster and handed it in by the due date. Haven't heard a word about it since. Last week, however, we had Back to School Night.  First, there were informal presentations at various booths about the things that concerns school: Spirit wear, Fundraising, Lice, Parent Association, etc. Then there was the more formal presentation in each classroom. I sat thrilled to hear about all of the things they have begun working on and what the year will hold in regard to the curriculum, field trips and behavioral rewards. As the presentation concluded, the teacher invited us to walk between the two adjoining Kindergarten classrooms where we heard the presentation. I strolled around looking at the artwork and began to notice all of the "All About Me" posters. I took note of the answers on one after another, after another...

When I grow up, I want to be...

A Doctor
A Teacher
A Doctor
A Doctor
A Lawyer
A Teacher
A Firefighter

Then:

bookclub5 funny face

Normal. Like my Mom.


Oh God.

Luckily, it makes me giggle. It's going to be up on those Kindergarten walls for quite some time. And there's a good chance that the people who have seen it, just think I'm weird. Haha. Yep. That's me! The poster child for Normal.

I shared this story, because I've been thinking about how it would be easy to take life too seriously. I believe that laughter is one of the best medicines and that the ability to laugh at yourself is probably the key to getting through the rough patches. I'm renewing my commitment to surrounding myself only with the people and the things that I truly enjoy. I recently had to take a step back in a social situation because it wasn't healthy for me. This week, in every spare moment of time I can muster, I am going to get rid of the physical clutter that exists in and around my home. Bags going to Goodwill and a truck of Got Junk should be headed out of the house by weeks end. This could be a source of contention between my husband and I.  We deal with clutter a little differently. So, fingers crossed that when we get a small breath of fresh air and hint of feng shui that it will inspire us both to live with less.

I read Kelle Hampton's book, "Bloom", this week. If you're not familiar with her, she writes an enormously popular blog entitled "Enjoying the Small Things". Her blog went viral after she unexpectedly gave birth to a baby girl with Down syndrome. I've been reading her blog since shortly after Elijah was born. Reading her book gave a much fuller insight into who she is and what her story is. While I related to so much of what she went through in her journey of dealing with her daughter's diagnosis, it was really the ending of her book that resonated most with me. She explains that someone emailed her the story of the Velveteen Rabbit, in relation to whether or not people will see her daughter with Down syndrome as beautiful. But she realizes that this story is really more about HER journey. I find the words of The Velveteen Rabbit to be so beautiful, and so wise, so very much about each person's own journey. Here is the snippet I'm speaking of:

The Story of the Velveteen Rabbit
“Real isn’t how you are made…” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand…”



horse

I don't really know what the true definition of "Normal" is, but I'm beginning to understand what it means to be "Real". Maybe "Normal" is what you get to consider yourself after you've gone through the hardships that have shaped you. The place that once you let go of all of the insecurities and fears about what others will think. The time when you stop gossiping or putting others down because you actually feel badly about yourself. Maybe the time when you just are is when you're Normal. If so, I'd like to think that my son's wishes to be Normal when he grows up, might be the very, very best thing he could want to be...




But, just so you know....this week as I drove Christian home from school, he said, "Mom. When I grow up I want to be a Train Conductor."
Really??!
Seriously??
You couldn't have thought of this 2 weeks ago??

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I LOVED this!!! Of course you know that I would be one of those who would be cheering you on to post the book club pic. You have cojones, my beautiful friend. I hope the teacher found it as wonderful as I did. A kid at the age of 5 declaring that he wants to be a doctor has no basis in future reality. A child who says he wants to be like his mother DOES. Very real. Very awesome.

Marisa

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