I realised today that my idea of normality must be very different to most people’s idea of normality. I don’t mean the unrealistic, daydream sort of normality you imagine while pregnant, when you know for certain that your child will never ever scare elderly people by zooming past them on their scooters, your child will eat nicely and chat politely in a restaurant, your child will be clever and musical and popular and sporty.

Reality usually turns out very differently. A good morning for us is one where the children get themselves ready for the day, as they have been doing every day for years. This expectation should not come as a surprise to them but somehow, on most days, it does.
A good morning is one where both boys get to school on time. Staff don’t bat an eyelid when SonOne is late any more, it has become normal. In fact, we all look surprised and relieved when he signs himself in with plenty of time to get to the classroom.

A good pickup from school is one where the teacher does not come out with SonOne to find me in the playground to have a ‘chat’. This generally means that something has ‘happened’ and only occasionally brings with it good news. A good pickup is one where I am not greeted with a murderous glare and a growl from him, rather than a hug and any snippet of news from the day, whether good, bad or neutral.

A good walk home is one where they are not hitting each other constantly, where they can actually tolerate each other’s existence for a brief 10-minute stroll and let each other speak.

It is amazing how I only really know for sure that this is not everyone’s experience, when a friend walks home with us. Usually the presence of a friend has a calming influence, and deflects the brothers’ attention from each other. It gives me a short breather too, in which to savour the afternoon winter sunshine, and remember that the boys are nice people beneath all the fighting and aggression.

On dark days the thought of ‘only ten more years to go’ keeps me going, for SonTwo.
For the other one? Well, let’s not think too much about that and hope for the best.