The Child Isn’t Normal

“What do you mean she isn’t conforming?  How can you say that about a five-year-old?  What does that even mean?”

“Mr. Bardsley, I have been teaching for some 20 years now, I know what I am talking about.  Something is wrong with your daughter.  She doesn’t play like or with the other children. You should have put her in day-care like everyone else.”

Thus spoke the teacher with the greying and unusually long hair for a woman of her age.

Albert reached over and grabbed his wife’s hand. This had been exceptionally hard for Candace.  The school had been blaming her for their daughter’s differences.

Lia  had always been a little strange but she was their child and they loved her regardless. After all, doesn’t everyone have their quirks?  In fact, Albert and Candace had been a little proud of their daughter’s peculiarity. It was striking, and she was bright – or so they thought.

Of course, it seemed more than a little odd when she first came home from the hospital.  Unlike their son, Lia had slept the whole night through on only the third day.  Actually, she had slept the whole day too – and all of her days thereafter.  She was woken only for feeding.

Truthfully, the couple had found this refreshing. With a six-year old who wakes up for the day at 5:30 AM, a newborn who seemed only to sleep was easy.

It unnerved them a little when by six-months Lia had made little progress, only sitting and staring, watching her older brother busy at play.  Albert and Candace grew concerned.  Albert even quipped “its a good thing she has a pretty smile – she’s going to need it.”  They even took her to the physician,who laughed the worry off and sent them home as if knowing what lie in store.

Suddenly, little Lia could not be stopped: she crawled, she was lively and into everything.  When she began talking it was just as instant, as if she had stored so many words through observation to use at the right time.  By the age of two she somehow knew the entire alphabet sounds and letters, although no one had taught her.

Lia’s inquisitive nature was unsettling to most outside her immediate family, which suited her just fine as she didn’t much care for strangers.  Candace couldn’t even take her to the grocery store, for as cute as Lia was, neighbours and townsfolk approached her often to say hello, which sent Lia into hysterics.

Albert stayed at home with her on the farm, while Candace taught music lessons in town.  He would take his daughter in his lap and read her National Geographic.  It wasn’t long until Lia could read herself  – only three, and again on her own without teaching.

Yes, their daughter was always a little different. She had the ability to convince you that ice wouldn’t melt, but to say there was something wrong with her was a bit incredible.  Nonetheless, the distraught parents sat attentively, listening to what the teacher had to say.

“Mr. and Mrs. Bardsley – something must be done, I just can’t continue to have a girl like Lia in my class. She is disruptive.  She is bored, and she doesn’t give anyone else a chance to learn.  The other children are normal. So what if she knows how to count and read? The others are just learning!  They play house or with blocks – only your daughter doesn’t.  I think there is something psychologically wrong with her. We need to run some tests.  If we don’t do something now she will never conform – just think about how difficult her life will be!”

Hanging their heads in shame, although not really knowing why, Albert and Candace consented.  A child psychologist would be engaged and Lia would undergo “some tests.”

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