I'm just a normal guy. Just your everyday, average, long-haired Eagle Scout. Must be a million guys just like me. You know, straight guys who hate sports, have a passion for typography, color and design, and who have a collection of custom, handmade knives? And who love the Muppet Show?
My son Ozzie, he's not normal. Not according to the standard rubric. Mind you, he doesn't know. From his perspective, looking through those big, beautiful almond eyes, I imagine he feels quite normal. I'm not sure how I'll ever even explain the concept to him, and I hate that I have to do it at all. But he will likely have questions for me some day, questions about why he isn't quite like others. And I hope, when that time comes, I have figured out an answer.
Honestly, I'm growing tired of the whole concept of normal.
Normal - the pursuit of normal - is a fool's errand, anyway. We all think we want normal, but when we have it, we want something else. Something different. That's why people wear jewelry and customize motorcycles and avoid tourist traps and tweak their orders at restaurants. Quite often, normal isn't very interesting.
And normal is in the eye of the beholder. What's normal in Zimbabwe isn't normal in Iceland isn't normal in Australia isn't normal in Utah. There's a guy who walks around the street in front of my office every day wearing a giant hat with flowers on it and mismatched, striped socks. It's funny to imagine him waking up in the morning, slipping on those socks, plopping that stupid hat on his head - it's a routine that must seem very normal to him by now.
You really want normal? Really? Fine, you can have normal. Crank the Beatles in your Camry while you drive to the ice cream shop to have a vanilla ice cream cone (not a waffle cone or a sugar cone, just one of those normal, tasteless ones). While you're having your treat, you can think about how much you dislike Tiny Tim, flying saucers, stilettos, David Lynch movies, Antarctica, Pop Rocks, llamas, Pac Man, April Fool's Day, Pluto, the pyramids, mohawks, white tigers, extreme sports, Japanese robots and Leonardo da Vinci.
Me and Oz, we'll be having mint chocolate chip.
You know, I once drove hundreds of miles out the way just so I could make a left turn in Albuquerque (note: if you don't get that, you didn't watch much Bugs Bunny). I realize that was not normal. But somehow, even as my iPod shuffles through Italian rock music, Britney Spears, and the Wu-Tang Clan, my life - my life with Oz – feels perfectly normal to me.
Daniel Niblock is a graphic artist and animator who lives in Durham, North Carolina. On July 14, 2008, he became the proud father of his second child: Ozzie, a 4 lb., 11 oz. baby boy. Ozzie has Down syndrome. This blog chronicles the bewildering experience of stepping into a topsy-turvy new world. It began as a place where family and friends could come to read words that were too difficult to speak aloud. It has transformed into a place where people can read about discovery, strength and love. Hopefully these collected reflections can help others find the way out of the darkness and into the light.