Do you ever have those moments when you realize that your version of normal is actually the very opposite of that? Like when you're at a restaurant and order "juice-wawa" for the baby without even realizing that yours is the only family on earth that calls it that? I had one of those moments recently. I have them a lot, actually, and it usually happens when we have an "outside" person come over to our house. Let me explain.
In anticipation of actually having a regular date night with my husband, I invited someone up to our house to meet the kids, in hopes that she can become a regular babysitter for us. I've known this girl for a long time, know her family, and think she is great. I was super excited for the boys to meet her and even cleaned the house in the morning in preparation for her visit. (I didn't want the usual mess to scare her off or make her think I'm some sort of crazy mom who can't keep her house clean (even though I totally am)). So, she arrived, the boys were thrilled to meet another adult willing to talk to them and build legos, and we soon decided to give her the tour of the farm. That is where we went wrong, because we were about to encounter a whole lot of "normal" that, it seems, is really only normal for us.
The first stop, of course, was the chickens. As we walked to the coop, Moses told her all about raising them from chicks, shoveling their poop out into the pasture, and the fact that our puppy had recently killed one and now maybe he is a "bird dog" but we hope not, because if he is we will have to get rid of him... I was barely registering his flow of (completely normal) conversation, because I had noticed that the chickens were not in their semi-enclosed coop area. This is unusual, especially in warmer weather because they like to stay in the shade close to their water. Moses and I immediately went into chicken-protection mode and scooted out around the corner to the pasture, with our future babysitter and Titus in tow. As soon as we did this we were faced with the devastated remains of one of my Buff Brahmas, which was completely covered in wasps.
Everyone gasped, and Moses and I ran forward to get a better view of what had happened. (It occurs to me at this point that I am glad we actually did gasp in horror, since up here on the farm we often stumble upon your run-of-the-mill dead animal. The usual response is to roll one's eyes, grab the nearest shovel or long stick, and hoist the thing into the garbage can. Or, in a lazier moment, just call one of the dogs over and hope he gobbles it up. If it had been anything other than one of our prized chickens, the poor babysitter would have thought we were downright inhuman.) Upon further inspection, we noticed that only the leg was left of our once beautiful chicken. Moses and I both started jabbering at each other at once: "Only the leg! Another Buff Brahma! Those are the nicest ones! Oh man, dad's going to be so mad at Bentley! I don't want Bentley to be a bird dog - I love him! Maybe it wasn't him - maybe a possum got it! Where are the other ones? What if something ate them too? I can't believe this - where is the rest of it?!" and so on. As Moses and I set off through the pasture in search of the rest of the dead chicken, I had a brief moment of clarity and realized "maybe this isn't normal." I looked back at the future babysitter and confirmed: no, this is not normal. One glimpse at the look on her face told me that not everyone goes running around their backyard looking for chicken carcasses with their young children in tow. Maybe not everyone has even seen living chicken, let alone the severed leg of a dead one. This poor girl had obviously not, though she put on a very brave face and helped us round up the rest of the chickens, who were unharmed.
After we returned to the house, I tried to make some boring yet comforting conversation with her, asking her such things as "how are you liking school," and "how are your brothers doing," but the dead-chicken experience was kind of still looming over us. She miraculously agreed to come back the next day to babysit the kids while Brett and I went out, and I apologized for the "weird afternoon." She was very forgiving and said something like "well, sometimes these things happen," which was very nice of her. Things like this don't EVER happen to most people. As she got into her car I couldn't help saying "this is actually a pretty normal afternoon for us," which didn't seem to make things any better. I had a momentary uncomfortable feeling as I watched her car disappear down the driveway ... things are crazy up here, aren't they? But then I heard Moses calling for help - a hummingbird had gotten into the house and he needed help getting it out. I snapped out of it, ran into the house, and returned to my regular old, normal life.