Whaddaya mean,”normal”?

Second Grade Puppet Show, Southgate School, 1962

I haven’t heard much about the “new normal” lately and I’m glad of that.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around what “normal” is.  Take schools, for instance.  Even though I didn’t retire until 2001 after nearly 40 years as a classroom teacher, I still consider a “blackboard” normal — as in, surely every classroom has one.  Never mind that by the time I began teaching in 1961, the color had turned to green and we were calling them “chalkboards” and that by the time I retired they were white and we called them… drumroll… “whiteboards.”  I just missed the installation of “interactive boards” in every classroom and, truth to tell, I don’t really know what they do or how they work.

So, I ask you., even if you just confine yourself to describing those particular instructional  devices… what’s “normal.”  Is it whatever you grew up with?  Or, am I unnecessarily inflexible about that?  There are, indeed, many things I do not consider “normal” because they didn’t exist when I was a kid.  Take hot lunches and never mind free ones or breakfast, either, for that matter.  In Alameda, California during WWII, every kid ate breakfast at home (or not) and brought their own lunch to school. The lucky ones had lunch pails; the rest of us had brown paper bags.

1940s lunch pail

It wasn’t that all our mothers were happy homemakers like Mrs. Cleaver.  Most moms worked.  My mom was a pipefitter’s helper at General Engineering Shipyards over on the estuary.  Some moms taught school or clerked in local stores or worked at Miss Saylor’s Chocolate factory on Encinal and Park Avenues.  And, no matter if your mom worked or not, some things were home responsibilities NMW (no matter what.)  Like taking you for a doctor’s checkup once a year and to the dentist maybe even oftener.  There were probably other things that were considered family matters that, nowadays, can be provided at school.  I’m no longer sure where the lines between home and school are drawn.

But the point is… all along the way during the last 80 years, whatever twelve-year period your schooling fell into is probably what you consider “normal.”  I surely hope that when the powers-that-be look at that “new” normal, they take a good look at all the old normals, as well. It seems to me that there are a lot of things we’ve lost sight of along the way that might be worth considering “normal” once again.  But… don’t get me started.

2 Responses to “Whaddaya mean,”normal”?”

  1. Beloved Cuz, this is the first time this week that I’ve been able to look at the O Daybook and I am so glad I did… it is wonderful to visit the chickens, see pictures of Our Charlie, get your take on normalcy all in the face of desecration, destruction, disaster. I am grateful that the veils surrounding D. Trump have been stripped away and the parallel realities existing in our country are revealed. I am glad for our liberal western perspective and the beauty of our basic and fundamental Constitutional process. Hard times but filled with HOPE! You are a large part of that! Love in abundance, KK

  2. sydney says:

    I so hope you are right about “veils” and “beauty,” dear Kris, but I am not that optimistic. I fear that what happened on Wednesday at the capitol is only the tip of an iceberg. I hope I am wrong.

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