• Carmen Rempel

Apparently

Updated: Apr 11

A racoon had run across the road. I pointed it out to her. It was a little hard to see in the dark. "It had a flashy light on it!" she said. I was confused at first, but then I understood. "No, no, no. Those are its eyes being reflected in the light of the car's headlights."

"Oh!" She said. "I always wondered why the racoons had lights on them!"


It was about to happen.


I could sense it coming.


She was about to launch into a story about her past that would undoubtedly gut me.

I braced myself.


"Once when I was like 7 I was home alone for a night and three racoons were at my window and I just sat on the floor the whole night as they looked at me with their scary glowing eyes. I was terrified."

She reenacted the racoon story for me in the living room when we got home. We talked a bit about her being left at home alone for days at a time. We talked about how normal that was for her when she was younger and how weird it was now getting used to being taken care of. I asked her, "Did you know what was going on was bad, or was it just normal for you?"

"It was just normal." She said. "Kids aren't supposed to be left at home alone though... apparently."


Apparently.


She just tagged that on at the end.

It struck me as poignant and I thought more about it later that day.


Knowing how to tell if mom is sober enough to drive you to school.

Kids aren't supposed to know these things...apparently.

Knowing you can hide in the shed when fights got violent.

Kids aren't supposed to know these things...apparently.

Knowing how to break into the neighbours house to sleep when the bad man was at your house.

Kids aren't supposed to know these things...apparently.

Knowing what vomited beer smells like.

Kids aren't supposed to know these things...apparently.

Knowing how to lie well in order to keep yourself safe.

Kids aren't supposed to know these things...apparently.

Knowing what beer tastes like, what cigarette burns feel like, and what domestic abuse looks like...

Kids aren't supposed to know these things...apparently.


But mine do.

To mine, it was normal.


So much of what we do at home is creating a new normal. My daughter used to knock on my door at 5:01am every morning. "Carmen! Time to get up! You have to take me to school!"

It took months for her to learn that I would get myself up just fine without her help. It look years for her to trust that I would wake her up in time for school. I'm happy to say that it has now become "normal" for her to wake up 30min before we have to leave.


Its become normal for them to complain about the meals I make, knowing there will always be food.

Its become normal for them to trust me with their mistakes, knowing I won't be mad.

Its become normal for them to assume I'm going to pay for something, knowing I can afford it.

Its become normal for them to ask for rides places, knowing I'll always pick them up.


Kids complaining about dinner, breaking things, asking for me to buy stuff, and asking for rides may sound like the annoying parts of parenting. But for me they are all worth celebrating because we've worked very hard to create this new normal.


We all have things in our lives that seem normal at the time and it isn't until you're all grown up that you realize was weird. I did gum-boot dancing as a kid in gym class because I grew up on a little hippy island where that was normal. It wasn't until I was 30 that I had a moment and realized that not everyone did gum-boot dancing in gym class growing up...apparently.

What was your normal?



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