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What is Normal Anyway?

“Let’s just be a normal family.”

Are we a “normal” family, or aren’t we?

Don was home later this morning than usual. Instead of leaving home at 7:00 am to commute to his office in Ankeny, he started his day with an 8:30 am meeting in Ames. I came downstairs after my shower, when I would typically wake Natalie up, and she was already standing at the kitchen table, eating breakfast (yes, she often stands to eat, but that’s another ADHD-related topic!). Don was helping her start her day. Great!

He and I were talking about our plans for the day and for the weekend, when I paused in the middle of a sentence to listen to an ad on the radio, about a sale on security systems for interior doors. Don looked at me funny, and I don’t blame him. Why…?

“I want to get Aaron a lock with a keypad for his bedroom door,” I explained. Don gave me another look.

“That’s ridiculous,” Don said. “Aaron doesn’t need a lock on his door.”

“Yes he does,” I said, “with Natalie as his sister.” He’s been asking me for just that, in fact, for several years, and I could see his point. His room is his only true refuge, the place I’ve worked hardest to keep Nat out of, to prevent her from impulsively pillaging his dressers, his drawers, his closet.

In spite of my vigilance, he comes to me often, hurt and fuming, after retrieving a ball cap, book, or gameboy from Nat’s room. “Nat’s been in my room again, and she took this. Can she be grounded?”

The idea of a locked door, with a keypad, seemed pretty reasonable, until I said it out loud. I guess it does sound kind of crazy.

My Kid Without ADHD

“Let’s just be a normal family,” Don said, half disgusted with me. I think he’s fed up with me and my extreme-coping ideas, with my needing to focus on coping, period. He just, well, copes! With work, with the kids, and with me.

A believer in self-fulfilling prophecy, I adjusted my attitude. Maybe I am worrying too much, working too hard, getting wrapped up in thinking Nat’s ADHD is a big deal. Treat her like a normal kid, act like a normal mom, I thought. Of course we’re a normal family.

Nat’s been doing an excellent job getting ready for school in the mornings so far this year. But, today, something was different. She couldn’t focus on anything. Combing her hair, putting on her socks and shoes, brushing her teeth, putting on glasses — every task demanded prompt after prompt after prompt after prompt. When we were finally in the car, and on our way to school, a thought hit me, and I called Don.

“You gave Nat her medicine this morning, didn’t you?” I asked.

“No, I didn’t,” he answered.

I always have her take her medicine before breakfast, so when our routine changed this morning, I just assumed…

I herded her into the nurse’s office to take her meds as soon as we reached the school. She was glad I stopped in, because she needed to talk to me anyway, about signing some papers. And the special ed teacher needed to see me too…

…just like a normal family.

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