Words are a funny thing. They can be powerful, hurtful, funny, telling, or emotional. We use them to communicate. To tell stories or pass along information, thoughts, or feelings. Sayings such as “the pen is mightier than the sword” bring to light the power words can have. With all that power, how often can we say we actually think about what we’re saying? Not just the words we’re saying, but how they can be perceived by others.
Sure, when we talk we’re consciously aware of what we’re saying. We’re aware of what words and phrases to use and not to. We communicate with an intended goal. Be it a casual conversation, to relay a point, telling a story, or even intentionally offend. We’re aware, but how often are we perceptive of that awareness?
I’ve started to be.
I’ve started to be aware more of words that I would have said or used to communicate something. I’m now trying to avoid those words. I’m trying to use different words.
HG has Arthrogryposis. He will always have Arthrogryposis. That is his life, his normal.
When talking about him, describing his condition, it’s an easy thing to do, to make a statement such as “like a normal baby” or “like how a normal knee would bend”. The thing is, that’s crap and isn’t fair to him. I shouldn’t be using the word “normal” when referring to a person who isn’t affected by AMC, or any condition for that matter.
I’ve started replacing the word “normal” with the word “typical” when describing HG or referring to his condition or progress. So rather than going “a normal baby wouldn’t be doing that too” I’ll say something like “he’s right there where a typical baby would be.”
Is typical better than normal? I don’t know, I honestly haven’t decided on that one yet. All I do know is that I wanted to get away from using the word normal before HG begins to understand it.
Normal is relative, and to HG, his normal is unlike all of ours.
His perception of normal is his, and that perception, his perception, is the one that matters the most to me. Because I never want my son thinking he’s not normal because he’s heard us refer to someone else as being that.
Although no, by most social standards, my son is not, nor will ever be considered normal, I will always consider him our normal. (Plus, most social standards suck anyway, so it’s not a high bar to measure up to).
I do not doubt that as we continue on this path, as we continue this journey with our son, our vocabulary will continue to grow. That our vernacular will shift. I still can’t decide if I like referring to what is our life now with HG as a path or a journey. Yes, our lives are now a bit more unique than others, but the reality of things is that everyone is on a path or journey. That’s what life is.
That’s another thought for another day, though. For now, I’ll continue to be conscious of the words I use, and continue to be conscious of how I communicate can be perceived.
My son may not be what you’d consider typical. Statistically, he isn’t. He’s 1 out of every 3,000 live births, so no he’s not typical, but he’s as normal as they come!