The Typical Child

Sometimes I wonder what it might be like to have a “typical” child. A child who lines up with the norms and follows the rules. I wonder how it would feel to post smug memes about how misbehaved children are always the parents’ fault. Always. And to read parenting books and have them work and then pat myself on the back because look at what a great job I’m doing! I wonder what it would feel like to visit school for a PTA event and not feel like “that mom.” The one who can’t control her kid. I’ve fantasized about going places like the grocery store or Target or the zoo or the amusement park or the pool or a gas station without feeling like it could all fall apart any second. I’ve heard there are parents who send their children to school and don’t jump every time the phone rings because what is it this time? Has she thrown something? Hit someone? Or does she just need her Mommy because her separation anxiety is so very real. Why wouldn’t it be when her first Mommy really did leave? And I think about the Moms who have never seen that look in their child’s eyes. The one of sheer terror as she cries “I can’t breathe” in the middle of a panic attack, and nothing I say or do can convince her that she is ok.

I wonder what it must feel like to have a typical child and see mine in the throes of a meltdown. To think “if only those parents knew how to say no,” and be certain I had done everything right. To never have to wonder if maybe she ingested food dye without us knowing. Or if she is experiencing something really emotionally significant. Or if this is residual effects of the drugs she had to fight out of her system when she first entered the world. Or if maybe she’s just 7 and having a bad day. There must be great comfort in applying blanket rules and policies to all children without stopping to consider whether that’s fair or effective or even safe.

I have often wondered what it would be like to have a child who is typical. One who doesn’t experience emotions with such self-awareness and express them with such eloquence that she makes me question things I had never considered. A little girl who isn’t so deeply empathetic. A child who hasn’t drawn people to her with a mysterious charisma her entire life. A child who isn’t so passionate about life, and already in love with the theatre. A child who doesn’t have  a way of knowing when people- and animals- need help, often even knowing exactly how to help. I wonder how it would be to raise someone who doesn’t make friends everywhere she goes. Someone who doesn’t make an impression at every restaurant, every store, every party- not because of her behavioral struggles, but because of her heart.

I have often wondered what it must be like to have a “typical” child. And how much love and magic I would have missed.

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