Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Normal in Our House

Renata over at Just Bring the Chocolate has set a little blogging challenge – to define ‘Normal’ family life in our place.

"Anyone who says that their family is normal is lying… or in denial… or just mad. There is no such thing as the normal family, just varying degrees of weirdness. Just like the pile of things that sits hopefully at the bottom of the stairs waiting to be carried up day after day, after a while, we don’t even see our own idiosyncrasies. Parents of special needs children, arguably, embrace this weirdness to a more impressive level than many other families, and, should you come across us, you shouldn’t be surprised if some of it leaks out into everyday life."

Interesting challenge. Some days it would seem there is not much mundane, predictable and "normal" to be had around here. Having spent 4 of the past 7 days in 2 different hospitals, with 2 of the remaining 3 having outpatient appointments, having the cat "admitted" at the Vet's for neurotic senile cat disease doing a good impression of being at Death's Door , and trying to explain to school that gluten as well as dairy, soya and wheat needs to be excluded from Kitty's diet (I provide the lunch but they are fantastic about catering for them in cooking sessions, snack etc) I'm not sure I would know what "normal" looked like if it came up and bit me. But that's the point of this challenge, to show how the seemingly bizarre, unlikely and even impossible becomes the norm for many families with children with additional needs.

Waking at the crack of dawn has always been the norm in our family. Although that should really be the "Shout of Dawn", or "Scream of Dawn". For years our mornings have started like this or this although the screaming and shouting has improved in recent months. H is oh-so-gradually getting the hang of school mornings, and who knows, by the time he leaves Primary School we might manage to leave the house without me feeling the need for valium, a stiff drink and a strong coffee. Mornings are fraught, hectic and noisy, and require careful planning and preparation the night before to avoid resembling a war zone. That's fine when I am on form the night before, but if I am feeling the effects of 2-3 hours sleep in total the previous night the temptation to throw caution to the wind and "wing it" the next day is very seductive. I did that once. Just the once. Won't be doing it EVER again lol...

With two children with autoimmune inflammatory bowel disease (EGID see here) , one with ASD, ADHD, and a whole host of other allegedly identified idiosyncrasies, let alone a teenager in the midst of hormone fluctuations there is considerable potential for trouble. (And that's assuming the cat behaves....) Pumps alarming, feeding tubes needing flushing, everyone's medication laying out/preparing for taking out, emergency kits checked and rechecked, physio done I could all too easily post a picture of the first thing which springs to mind to illustrate our concept of "normal".

A 10ml enteral syringe.

We go through loads of these, for medication and tube feeding. They feature in our "normal" family life. And yet I cannot think of anything less appropriate to illustrate what is "normal" for our family. Yes, our lives do revolve around meeting the additional needs of three of us, but that IS mostly the mundane, predictable and almost invisible much of the time. 

Normal life here is actually making a joke out of almost everything, finding the humour in the most unlikely situations, creating "Thompsonisms" that would never feature in any accepted dictionary but which for us are at the centre of family life. I am blessed with a family with a fabulous sense of humour. (That's pretty potent multiplied by a factor of 6. ) I have my husband to thank for a lot of it, he can singlehandedly reduce A to a giggling, incapable wreck only minutes after starting to cry in pain. He can see the fun in any situation, although I doubt his version of the Bristol Stool Chart will be adopted any time soon!

"Normal" for us is a warped, humorous and not-a-little cynical view of the world and our family's place within it. It's about making each other laugh and see the flip side, it's the glue which binds us together. And should any one of us be feeling low, should the mundane and monotony of our "special" version of normal be too overwhelming, you can be sure there are several at hand to crack a joke and put everything in perspective. We're an IT savvy, gadget loving, future embracing, don't let it get you down (or offload it and move on) kind of family. Feelings matter, but we know when humour can save the day. 

And you know what? That's my kind of normal :)


  1. Fabulous post. You're a girl after my own heart. There is nothing that can't be laughed at. Perhaps somethings that shouldn't be laughed at in a public place or when people are eating, but in the privacy of your own family, all rules are off!

    So nice to hear you so positive with so much going on x

  2. thank you for sharing this
    we redefine normal, don't we?
    then take each day as it comes, chosing our attitude
    and humour is a great way to save the day!
    we often use very black humour - people don't always get it but we do! and that's all that matters...
    thanks for sharing your positivity

  3. I love this! Thank you... i think my Normal post was a bit negative having read yours. its fabulous!!


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