|Henry, March 2012|
This is a meditation on normal. Last night, Henry asked me for help with his Honors English homework. I had to read the short story assigned to them, a John Updike titled A&P, that I'd never read before. I found it exciting and the questions that Henry needed help with, exciting, too. Henry is an incredible reader and a pretty damn good writer, but he currently states that he hates writing and Honors English. He hates getting so deep into a text for annotation and study that the actual reading of it is no longer enjoyable. We talked for a bit about that last night, and I told him about the time I saw Updike at UCLA a couple of months before he died, how his fingers were so long and tapered, how he loved his craft, how I wanted to jump onto the stage and into his lap. We also talked about the upcoming Homecoming Dance, about the girl he invited and what he needs to wear to the dance. I need real slacks, he told me, and shoes. I sat in rare normal, lay in it like a pig in mud. Those of us who are extreme parents generally shush those of you who are not when you counter your normal with comments like oh, I know this is nothing compared to what you go through. We don't want to be any more isolated than we are. We are told that normal is relative. There's no such thing as normal, I've told my sons. My friend who has a son who was normal at two and is now neurologically devastated by a rare disease grapples with a new normal. Last night I recognized normal for what it is. Normal.