We've had house guests the last few days, guests with children similar in ages to Alfs and Woody. As wonderful as it was just to spend time with our friends, it was equally wonderful to see their children act in ways my kids do.
In other words, my kids are normal. Phew.
Different children, yet a shared experience
It was one moment in particular: from the back of the car came sound effects and raucous laughter. I can't even describe what they were doing, but it was utterly silly, and utterly over the top. We asked them to settle down, but they clearly could not, and took the craziness to a new level. I thought only my kids did that.
I've read books, I've talked with friends and family, tried to reassure myself - but seeing these other kids in action was so deeply reassuring. It was reassuring for my friend, too. "Yours does that, too?" We'd look at each other and laugh.
Every kid has their quirks, as does every parent and every family. As much as one tries to have a sense of humor and perspective about those quirks, a parent often can't help but wonder - and even if it's a tiny, quiet wonder - "Is my kid normal?"
Most of the time the answer is, "Yes, absolutely." Again, phew. But it often takes such moments to recognize and internalize that. Then relax (if only for a short time).
Find support where you can
There's nothing like friends and family and community to offer reassurance and support for your parenting. When your friends and/or family have kids pretty much exactly the same age as yours? It's even better. You know you are not the only one with a surly pre-adolescent oldest child, a demanding, endearing second child, or whatever number and birth order and temperament of your children. Seeing other kids do the weird things your kids do just makes parenting that much easier. It just does.
The visit by our friends reminds me that we need to be with other parents of children of similar ages more often. We need to find that reassurance and offer it to one another more often.