What Do Normals Do?

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?

Published by: teendoc on October 27th, 2011 | Filed under family, funny stuff, parenting, ramblings

12 Responses to “What Do Normals Do?”

  1. Pictou Says:

    Before it gets too cold, take a blanket out in the back yard after dark; lie down and look at the stars. Find the North star, Big Dipper, Orion. Popcorn is the ultimate food for this because if it spills it doesn’t matter. You can have popcorn fights too.

  2. teendoc Says:

    I’m happy to look at the stars, but I wouldn’t know the North Star or the Big Dipper if it came down from the sky and bit me in the butt! 🙂

  3. Neeroc Says:

    Oh come on now, there’s an app for that! Have your GPS on, point your phone at the sky and presto you’ll know what you’re looking at *g*

  4. teendoc Says:

    Seriously?! Show’s that I’m not as plugged in as I often think that I am!

  5. OmegaMom Says:

    Hmmm. Let’s see. Build a gingerbread house together. Have the kidlet build a fort in the living room, and let it stay up for days. As in your previous post, go bike-riding together, or walking together, or hiking together. Go to the zoo. It may still be feasible now to do a day of collecting really cool fall-colored leaves, then making placemats out of them. Family movie night, with rotating people selecting the movie each week, complete with “floor picnic” of munchies (crackers, salamis, cheeses, smoked salmon, various finger foods).

  6. teendoc Says:

    Now some of these we have done: the zoo trips, the walks, and now the bike rides. Hiking is next. My CV fitness needs the challenge. I’m leery about the gingerbread house, though. The kid and I have not done so well with our mother-daughter baking sessions. We try but she wants to do everything, and I mean everything, all by herself. And with my OCD and perfectionism, it becomes an interesting combination. 😀

  7. Alex Says:

    That’s why you can always buy 2 of everything. She can decorate her own baked goods and you can do your perfect baked goods lol

    Here’s more to add to the list: 🙂

    Go trick and treating!

    (Trust me it’s a big deal in my household simply because I wasn’t allowed to go begging for candy from strangers when I used to live in a not-so safe neighborhood in childhood.) 🙂

    Celebrate your birthday the whole month…to do so you a. have the right to choose the dinner menu for every day of that month and b. celebrate your birthday with a different friend or family member on that Saturday in that month.

    Drop the kiddo off at a grandparent or aunt’s house to play with their cousins while you do something fun on your own.

    (I did that yesterday–great fun–Mary K party for me and rolling down the hill behind the Chick-filas for son & his cousins)

    Go to free art festivals and art museums. This was one of my favorite things to do when son was a baby. It’s fun to watch children observe art and comment on it.

    Have game night. Your daughter is probably old enough to learn to play Uno, Go Fish, Old Maid, Connect Four, or even Operation LOL

    Invite a friend from your child’s school over the house for a play date for them. Serve wine to the parent visiting and just chat.

    Ice skate in winter
    Swim in summer
    Go sledding in winter when it snows — school fields that have hills are the best place to go sledding or tobaggoning.

    Visit your favorite old people with your child. I visited my favorite elderly cousin recently and had a blast. She’s hilarious, sharp as a tack, and loved the visit as she can’t get around as well due to needing a knee replacement. My son liked that he could watch golf on her tv and eat her candy and that she made him mac and cheese.

    Go to a corn maze in the fall or to a farm to see the animals and pick your own pumpkin and go on a hayride. There’s nothing like sloshing in rain boots in the mud while a child chooses and then changes her mind on a pumpkin.

    Picking strawberries in summer is another fun thing to do on a farm visit that gives a tour and has you pick your own strawberries. Son loved that at your daughters age. He picked and ate while we filled containers with strawberries. The best farm tours show you the vegetables and let you sample the veggies.

    Christmas ornament shopping in winter. Have kiddo pick her own ornament every year. We have a tradition of picking an ornament for each other that represents the year we had or something related to the child’s likes/personality.

    Going to cookouts & family reunions are fun as hell in summer–tons of great food–people to talk with, sometimes even cousins–music and games scheduled for the kids, and swimming for the kids.

    Attending birthday parties is fun too. Both for kids and adults. Birthday cake is fun. Its more fun to attend a birthday party than to throw one and have to clean up all that mess.

    Going to Barnes and Noble just so your kid can play with the train table in the children’s section while you shop for more books to add to your child’s library–fun! CHild gets to play with local kids. You get to screen books based on what your child likes.

    Youtube can create fun too. I’ve played music or shown dance styles on Youtube for the kiddo. Kiddo was amazed to watch Michael Jackson as a child singing How funky is your chicken now? lol

    Bowling night is fun. The bowling alley can cover the bumpers so your child won’t get gutter balls and the whole family can bowl.

    My son’s favorite place to go for fun is Target. He loves playing on the video game systems there as we are a video game system free house. He loves getting a hot dog or popcorn at Target. He loves the book section and dvd section and toy section too lol

    The wii is popular for fun games for families. Kinect is fun with this game that you dance along to the music. The Michael Jackson experience and the other dance game Dance Central or something is a lot of fun.

    SOme people enroll their kids in martial arts classes or swim classes in the weekend even in the winter. Some kids have a lot of energy to burn.

    Is my list too long? lol

  8. Deathstar Says:

    I have a friend who is just terrific at organizing events for friends with kids – we just joined them for a visit to the pumpkin patch – not something I’d ever done as a kid – it was actually fun. We all wore boots of course cause it’s a VERY muddy activity – but the farm had hay wagon rides with musicians, singing vegetables on stage, everyone went into the fields and chose a pumpkin – the kids jumped around in a hay tent, etc. I didn’t get a pumpkin martini – but I did get a great pic of my son covered in mud in the corn maze. I think the best part was that he had time with other kids.

  9. teendoc Says:

    That’s something we have been doing!!! There is a farm we go to every year and I have pictures of her pumpkin picking (and even some on the same bench every year as a growth reference) to add to the scrapbook. That was one episode of my normalspiration that I had years ago. Glad you had a great time!

  10. Leslie Says:

    Hi!! We go to a local children’s playhouse and they put on shows for like 5.00 that are really cute. Renditions of say like little red robinhood, etc. They also have other children theatre’s that are short and sweet for the little ones!!

    Leslie B.

  11. teendoc Says:

    Thanks for the suggestions! I’ve tried to look for things like that, but haven’t always scoped them out in time.

  12. Kayla Says:

    Thanks for posting this Liana.

    Alex- NO your list is not too long! That’s great stuff. I especially love the Christmas ornament thought. I’ve heard of annual traditions with ornaments and that sounds like a nice thing to look back on when they’re older.

    The game night is intriguing but still confusing to me. So, what do yo do? After dinner do you pull out board games and eat snacks or dessert or something?

    I love the idea of an extended family vacation. I don’t get much vacation time so if we went somewhere with family, I wouldn’t have to worry about sacrificing doing something fun and new in order for the kids to see family. They could do both at the same time!

    Someone else mentioned mother-daughter shopping. That made me laugh because it sounds like TV. Like going out for ice cream when the daughter gets her period. Do people really do that?

    Another idea that occurred to me is: Stay in the same room even when not eating. I’m wondering if the Normals actually sit around the Family Room like… a family. Maybe they might read in the same room while someone is doing homework or watching TV or cleaning up rather than retreating to their corners as fast as possible. Whenever I’m sitting around the Family Room with my kids, if I look up and my partner is there, I think, “Good. They are being monitored. I should go find something to do.” Maybe, normals actually just stay in the room and soak it up.

    I’ll keep adding to the list if I any Normals leak one of their activities 🙂

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