defining normal

A few weeks ago, we took Cashel to the Eastern Market area in DC.  It's such a great place with an indoors, more permanent farmers' market feel to it, and one of our favorite spots is a lunch counter in one corner called, appropriately, "Market Lunch."  You wait in line (usually pretty long) until you get to the counter, give the guy your order and he shouts it to the cooks diner-style.  Then you have to wait until you actually get the food in-hand to claim a seat at the long counter.  We happened to be there at lunchtime, and had been walking around a bit with C in his front carrier.  He loves shopping that way - I think it makes him feel safe and secure, like I'm holding him, but at the same time lets him look out at everything and take it all in.  He did great the whole time standing in line, but when we gave our order and the guy turned and yelled it back loudly, Cashel jumped, looked up at Karl, and burst into tears.  I realized that I don't think he's ever heard yelling like that before - neither Karl nor I are yellers, and he's just not been around that.  It scared him!  In his world, grown-ups might talk, or sing, or make funny animal noises, or laugh - but no one yells.  (At least, no one over the age of one.) 

It hit me that I have the enormous responsibility of defining what "normal" is for Cashel and any other children we may have.  As he grows, it will be the rhythms and routines and traditions and actions and words he encounters regularly in our home that shape his world, and that impact who he is and what kind of man he becomes.  Will "dinner" mean sitting down together as a family, eating something I've cooked and talking about our day?  Or will it more often mean grabbing something quickly, with the TV on?  Will the words he hears around him and to him every day be kind, hopeful and loving, or critical, negative and hurtful?  Will he have more memories of us reading together, or running around outside, or of playing video games?  Some friends of ours recently adopted a little girl from eastern Europe.  She has had no boundaries at all in her young life, and had periods of time where no one really cared about her at all.  Our friends are faced with the challenge now of redefining all those previous memories and habits and behaviors, and giving her a new "normal."  God is good, and is already working great things in her life, but how much better would it have been if she had started with such loving structure from the beginning?      

I'm trying to be very deliberate now about what the "normal" I define for Cashel looks like on a daily basis.  I know he's only seven months old, and he won't remember any of this later, but I watch him taking it all in every day, and I know he's starting to build those ideas and thoughts about this world of ours.  Someday he'll come smack up against the harshness, the dirtiness and sinfulness and meanness that's out there, but for now, I want to make sure that his "normal" is full of lots of hugs and kisses and cuddles and giggles, safety and warmth, prayer time and Bible stories every night, singing silly songs in the car, coming with me to take a meal to friends with a new child or helping him learn how to be gentle and kind to other kids.  I want his "normal" to look nothing like the "normal" that the world accepts.  I want him to live a life that's extraordinary in its compassion, kindness, and integrity - and I want him to see it as being absolutely, unremarkably normal.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Powerful insights, Kristin! You're a wonderful reflection of your own Mother's wisdom and love. I'm so proud of you. Dad