Unnormal Children


“I want an unexceptional child.”
“I hope our baby doesn’t need us.”
“Please god let my kid be boring.”

These are not generally things people say. Most parents begin the process with an awareness that children are needy, and a desire for a child who is special. But tell parents their child is developmentally disabled, and suddenly they ret-con what they’ve always wanted.

“I just want a normal child!”

Special education and exceptional needs weren’t what they meant when they said they wanted a precious and unique individual to care for. Sometimes they feel angry, resentful, and cheated, and sometimes they take those feelings out on their child.

Disabled children are treated like changeling elves, responsible for the loss of the imaginary normal child. Autistic children in particular are brutally punished for having atypical brains. Parental desperation is fueled and exploited by quacks peddling bleach enemas as a “cure” for being exceptional.

I never wanted a normal child or an easy one. I wanted the one I have: bright, funny, sarcastic, challenging, and weird, just like me. When I was a teenager, hanging out with the goths and ravers but belonging to neither, I worried I might someday have a normal child, and that we couldn’t relate. I’m not normal, and neither is my child. Thankfully.

One thought on “Unnormal Children

  1. Yeah, I wonder if people feel that a “special” child is a reward/punishment for the way they’ve lived their lives. If they get a “problem child” and feel as though they’d earned better than that, I suppose they’re inclined to be angry and take the anger out on something. And the children themselves are the least able to defend themselves against that anger.


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