Do you have a word or phrase that REALLY gets on your nerves?
One that makes you want to put your fingers in your ears and sing “la, la, la, la, la, la” over and over (and over) again.
In fact, I have one particular phrase and one word that really irks me…and, believe it or not, I’m usually relatively un-irkable these days.
Want to know what they are?
Well, the phrase I particularly dislike is “slap up meal”
No, seriously…WHAT. IS. THAT. ALL. ABOUT?
How can you POSSIBLY slap up a meal?
It’s just utterly nonsensical.
Anyway, I’ll not ponder on that one for now because the one word that I particularly want to focus on for this specific post is a word that’s used so often everyday by millions of people all across the globe. Including me. Yes, “Guilty as charged (again), Mi Lord”.
It’s a word that’s used for all kinds of things and just slips off the tongue.
And that word is: “normal”. And, quite frankly, I’d like it removed from the dictionary forthwith.
“Normal” is used in so many contexts:
- Getting back to normal
- Resume your normal position
- Picture a normal family scene
- I’m sleeping normally
- It was just a normal day
- My eyes are closer than normal
- It’s not what normal people would do
- I eat normally
- I had a normal birth – yeah, right! It may have been classed as “normal” buddy, but it stung a bit! *wince*…and any man who ever dares to say to his partner whilst in the throes of childbirth – where she feels like the whole of her internal organs are going to drop out of her Va-J-J (sorry, couldn’t come up with a better word!) and she’s writhing in agony and asking God to take her – “Don’t worry darling, that excruciating pain you’re experiencing right now is JUST NORMAL” is a FAR braver person than I; I can tell you!
So, what IS normal?
Really. I mean, what is it?
Maybe I’m over analysing here, but if I said any of the above phrases to you, would you REALLY know what they actually meant for me or for another individual? Would you be able to assess what someone’s definition of sleeping ‘normally’ was without elaborating further? Because it may be completely different to yours.
It’s such a subjective word really, isn’t it?
Next time you go and see your Doctor and they ask you if you’re eating “normally”, just ask them what THEIR definition of normal is.
You may eat take-aways every single night and drink 6 cans of beer. That’s normal for you.
You may not eat anything at all during the day and then have a huge meal at 8p.m. That’s your normal.
You may eat small portions of food every couple of hours throughout the day and that’s normal for you.
You may eat 3 balanced meals every day and not snack in-between. That’s your normal.
We’re all advised that the latter is the best and we should always have our 5 a day….although, according to the media, that was disputed by some research team or other not so long ago!.
Still, (if we can eat orally, that is) we put food in our mouths and chew. We eat fast or slow. We swallow. We digest (hopefully!) That’s it. We’re eating, maybe not “normally” according to what we’re told we should be doing. But we’re eating nonetheless.
That’s our own individual “normal”.
The definition of “normal” in the Oxford Dictionary is:
“Conforming to a standard; usual, typical or expected” or “of a person free from physical or mental disorders”
So let’s talk about ‘normal’ in the context of ‘people’ i.e. you and me and everyone else.
Could anyone ever REALLY give me a definitive answer as to whether THEY fit the criteria of “normal”?
Let me give you another example. Let’s focus on an activity such as walking (for those of us who are fortunate to do so!):
Some of us walk fast
Some of us walk slowly
Some of us walk upright,
Some of us slouch
Some of us drag our feet
Some of us walk with our feet turned in
Some of us walk with the grace a ballerina
Some of us walk like the gruffalo
You get my drift?
So, who, out of all the people above walks “normally”?
They’re all walking i.e. moving one foot in front of another and moving forwards (or backwards!) but who cuts the mustard in terms of getting the gold star for being the most ‘normal’ walker?
I suppose I’ve become far more sensitive to the word (normal) since Hannah was born. I’ve seen it in reports and heard it through discussions with professionals “she’s not like a normal child”, “she doesn’t function like a normal child” blah blah blah and so on and so forth.
And, being Hannah’s mama, this word can grate. Quite a lot!
I’m motivated to write this post especially because I know there are a number of professionals that read my posts “Hi” *waves excitedly* and I’m not pointing the finger at them by any means, but I’m sure they’ll help spread the word about this post and by doing so, maybe, hopefully, sprinkle a little fairy dust enlightenment to individuals who may need to think very carefully about how they communicate with special needs families…and modify their technique!
It’s so easy to slip up and say the wrong thing. I get it. I really do. But, on the flip side, it’s just too easy to use “normal” as a word, because, in my opinion, it’s lazy – there seems to be little need to elaborate once you’ve used “normal” in a sentence – unless, that is, you meet someone like me and get grilled about it!.
But it’s also really important for me as a special needs mama to let people know that it’s actually NOT OK (EVER!) to say my child (or indeed any other child or adult) isn’t normal or doesn’t behave “normally”. Because what you’re actually saying to us is that she’s/they’re ‘abnormal’….that’s an antonym, btw.
Now, THAT’S a REALLY offensive word.
Turn the tables and consider this: would you like to hear me describing your kid as not normal or doesn’t look right (that’s how I view the word dysmorphic) or fat or anything else that could be construed as offensive? I doubt very much that you’d be best pleased.
So why should I be ok about any of it then?
Why should I be expected to have to listen to it, accept it and not respond?
…and if I DID say something in response, then I’d probably be labelled as being ‘difficult’ or ‘sensitive’ or whatever. But I can easily live with that. People’s opinions of me matter not one iota.
“Not normal” sounds far less offensive than “abnormal”. But it’s the same thing isn’t it?
Sure, it’s JUST a word. But words can cut deep. And once said, can never be taken back and WILL be remembered. And, if you’re anything like me (i.e. a special needs parent) and have heard this time and time again for years on end, then quite frankly, it makes you irked…and a little bit angry. Well, actually, a LOT angry.
If you’re struggling to come up with an alternative, then there’s actually tons of adjectives you could replace “normal” with:
Usual, standard, ordinary, atypical, ordinary, mainstream, bog-standard, common, run-of-the-mill, unremarkable.
They’re all there in the dictionary for you to use.
Use any word you want. I’d probably understand, honest!. I may not look too smart, but looks can be deceiving.
Actually, thinking about it, you don’t have to spell out how my child is functioning or what her differences or little idiosyncrasies are. Because the stark reality is (get ready for this….this’ll shock you)…I already know!
YEAH, fancy that, eh? Who’d have thought?
So, who can hold their hand up and say that they’re normal?
I’m certainly not and I’d never aspire to be ‘normal’: I’d rather not be bog-standard, run-of-the-mill, ordinary.
For a start, I’ve got green eyes and I’m left handed. If I lived in medieval days I’d have been burned at the stake or drowned in a muddy village pond just for those two characteristics. Not so long ago, in the UK, I’d have had my left handed-ness beaten out of me or completely shunned by society.
Normal, to me, just sounds…well…a bit bland, to be perfectly honest.
I’d really rather not envisage my grave stone saying “Here lies the body of Annie. A normal and bland woman who lived an ordinary life”. Stuff that. I’d rather it said “she was completely bonkers, had a bit of a potty mouth, was a little too honest and acerbic at times, totally unconventional but she made a difference”.
Yes, that’s more like it.
So, to conclude, I’m not normal and my kid isn’t normal. Nor would I ever want her to be.
My kid isn’t abnormal either.
My kid is simply magnificent and a unique little individual in her own right!
Just like we all are.
In fact, next time you’re out and about, have a look at the people around you. They’re all different…it’s a bit like being in the Mos Eisley Cantina (the bar in Star Wars). We’re all just a big mish mash of difference…and difference is good, difference is colourful (in our world anyway).
So, that’s all for now, my lovelies. I’ve given my justification as to why the word should be removed from the dictionary. Like it or lump it, take it or leave it. That’s my opinion. No debate required. End of. Although apologies for using the word “normal” so many times!
Just do me a favour…if we meet, never, EVER ask me to go for a ‘normal slap up meal’. I won’t be held responsible for my actions *wink*
Thanks ever so much for stopping by.
I really do appreciate you taking the time to read my posts.
Until next time.
p.s. If you’ve not visited us on Facebook yet, feel free to pop by when you’re on there…that’d be nice.
This post is dedicated to all the unique, bohemian, unconventional individuals out there – don’t let anybody try and change you – keep being who you are!