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A “normal” childhood

Jeanne Sager
Posted 3/23/21

A year ago they might have made me sigh the deep belly sigh known to the exhausted parents everywhere.

Now I could only smile at the three bowls, each with ramen noodle remnants and a fork in …

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A “normal” childhood

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A year ago they might have made me sigh the deep belly sigh known to the exhausted parents everywhere.

Now I could only smile at the three bowls, each with ramen noodle remnants and a fork in them, each sitting in my kitchen sink.

Did they mean the teenager had created dishes and not put them in the dishwasher? Well, yes, technically. But that was a quibble for the family we were a year ago.

In 2021, those three ramen-crusted bowls meant something so much greater.

They meant there were three (masked) teenagers perched in chairs on my driveway, talking about teenager things and eating teenager food.

They meant there was laughter ringing through my house again, pure and raucous and — please don't tell my teenager I've said this — childlike.

They meant we had regained something in the spring sunshine: a small taste of what it was we had before.

We've been told we may never get “back to normal,” that we will only have a new version of normal. I've come to accept that if only because it's better to grow from experiences than to retain the status quo.

But there are losses our children have sustained that we don't have to accept as permanent: the times with friends, the times to laugh, the times to be childlike.

Whatever normal looks like when this pandemic is over, I'll take a kid leaving dirty bowls in the sink any day so long as it means there's still a piece of childhood left for them to live.

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