Day 2: When your “normal” is not Normal

The beginning of our story starts here.

There is this literary term called “anagornisis” which means “recognition” in Greek, and it’s when a character makes a critical discovery about himself or herself.

In my case, I had an “anagornisis” moment about Benji on a normal Tuesday afternoon last winter.

I was sitting on the couch, heavily pregnant, when he came in to tell me about his latest obsession: Dragons! (We had recently watched How to Train Your Dragon 2)

Benji: Mom! Mom! Can I…Can I…Can I tell you about–Can I tell you about this super cool-super cool dragon?
Me: Sure! (or maybe “Sure.” I had had been hearing about dragons a whole heck of a lot.)
Benji: This one–it it it’s–called a Funderdrum [Thunderdrum] and–and–and it has a–the Funderdrum has a sound, he has a sound blaster. He has sound blaster that blasts sound [major hand motions]– sound from his–he shoots sound from his his his mouth. He shoots sound from his mouth. That’s the Funderdrum.

I was biting my tongue, resisting the urge to utter my catch phrase, “You need to stop and think about what you are trying to say.” Why is listening to my kid speak so exhausting?

And there it was: The light bulb moment.  It WAS exhausting. And it shouldn’t be, for me or for him.

His normal speech pattern: The halting, word stuttering, pauses, starting over and over and over was normal for him, but it wasn’t Normal.

He ran away to play and I sat stunned for a minute, reveling in my anagornisis moment and then feeling incredibly stupid. Why had it taken so long for me to recognize this?! He was 7 years old and I was just NOW realizing that, oh, my kid can’t speak fluently. What kind of mother am I?!

My mind swam frantically through the past, searching for the moments where I should have recognized this problem.
Two year old Benji: Aww, he’s just learning to speak. Sure, he’s a little behind but so is Micah. After all, they were preemie twins.
Three year old Benji: Yeah, I have to translate for him a lot when he talks to other people but that’s pretty normal. He’s a boy and boys develop fluid speech later.
Four year old Benji: I’ll give it a little more time. Pre-K will help with his social language issues. He’s still young.

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My four year old Benji

Five year old Benji: He’s only in Kindergarten. Eh! I’m not worried about it.
Six year old Benji: Sure, his speech frustrates me but if he would just slow down and THINK, then we wouldn’t have these issues.

I had gotten so used to his voice, his stories, his expressions, his speech patterns, that I rationalized my own doubts about his struggles, even going so far as to think, “well, if he just tried harder…!”

But in that small moment, that Tuesday afternoon of the “Funderdrum Story,” I knew. This may be our “normal” but his speech is not Normal.*
This was not his fault. It was not a matter of “Slow down and think!” This was something that as his mother, I needed to take into serious consideration and get him help.

I had already decided to write the letter to the school. Maybe I needed to add “Testing for Speech Disorders” to my requests.
Could it be all tied together? The reading issues? The inability to follow directions? The speech issues?

I had my moment of anagornisis: I saw the truth, and the way forward was clear.
I just needed to take the next, terrifying step.

Have you had a moment of Recognition with your own child?
Why is it so hard to see what is right in front of us?
What steps did you take after your anagornisis…or what steps do you need to take?

BiggerButton*Note: you would think, having twins, that this would be obvious, right?? Micah’s speech wasn’t 100% fluid as a toddler, pre-schooler, etc but it has made steady improvement.  He can communicate in a typical fluid range for a child his age.

5 Comments

  1. Megan

    At every yearly well visit Jeremiah had I asked about his behavior. I was always assured he was a healthy, typical child who needed more time. I accepted that. After all, he was the doctor.
    But when a friend who’s a nurse said she thought he might be Autistic, I was shocked. I told Kierstyn what my friend said, thinking she would find it as rediculous as I did. When she hesitated, I realized there was much more going on then I realized. I don’t think I saw the full scope because he was my oldest and it was my “normal”. I didn’t know other moms didn’t have to deal with what I was dealing with on a daily basis.
    At his 5 year we’ll visit it was acknowledged there was more going on. It still took months and me calling and telling the doctors that we needed help. Imidiately. After that, we finally got the help we all needed.

  2. Megan, thanks for sharing your story. It is incredible to have that light bulb moment that your normal is not everyone’s normal. Like, oh, not everyone has daily meltdowns about xyz? I’m not crazy? That’s the relieving part.
    The other part of realizing the normal-not-normal is a lot like grief.
    I’m glad the doctors finally listened to you. It feels like a fight a lot of times.

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