In the Addams Family Musical, Wednesday tells her family she just wants them to act normal at dinner with her new boyfriend, Lucas’ parents. Grandma Addams raises her hand and says: “Wednesday? Define normal.”
I have been thinking a lot about what normal is. What is a normal family? What is a normal day? Certainly, being on tour is not normal. Our family is currently not normal. Aidan is having trouble at school since I have left. He is angry and acting out in ways he has never done before. All of us who love Aidan know that this is part of the situation we are in, and his teacher assured us he will be fine when things return to “normal.”
Today we went to the Baseball Hall of Fame Museum in Cooperstown, NY as part of a fun cast field trip. Sam’s teacher Julie decided that it would be their school for the day. There was so much involved in that museum: history (the history of our country and how each time period affected baseball); social studies (racism & sexism in baseball and how changing attitudes about different races and sexes changed the sport); geography: each state in the USA was represented by their team and the unique spirit each state brings to the game; and even some science as we walked down the Hall Of Fame and saw the plaques of each player sculpted in bronze. The boys now have to write an essay about what it meant to them, and use photos that they took to support their essay. This wasn’t a “normal” day of school, but those boys probably learned more today than they would have at school. And I’m pretty sure they won’t forget it.
My lifelong friend Heather took her 11 year old son Cory to the Westminster dog show this weekend. She lives in AZ with me and this was the second major dog show she has taken Cory to this year. Cory is not “normal” in society’s view: he has Aspberger’s Syndrome and really only becomes alive and animated when around animals, specifically dogs. A film crew is currently making a documentary about Cory and his special relationship with and fascination of dogs. He is a brilliant child and can tell you every single fact, completely accurate, about every breed of dogs. He can sketch any breed of dog on command, and his sketches are incredible. Cory, not a typical child, is in fact, an extremely special child. He is different, but in the best way possible. He is fascinating, and everyone is cheering him on.
I have often told Heather that Cory and Sam are somewhat similar in that Sam really only relates to people who can talk theatre with him. He can tell you facts about the Gershwins or Stephen Sondheim that many adult actors do not know. Sam has been called not normal by his peers for years. He hasn’t led a “normal” childhood since he got involved in professional acting many years ago.
What Cory and Sam are doing is standing out. They are not “regular” kids. They are doing something meaningful and amazing. They are incredibly unique. They would not be defined as a normal 11 year old boys to much of our society. But that’s perfectly ok with us.
Will the Primack family return to “normal” once this tour is over? Probably not. We have a son with an gift and, if he is lucky, he will continue to grow in his career and get more exciting opportunities throughout his life. My kids have always been stubborn and have been described as old souls; people are always amazed that I have never stopped working, and don’t ever rest when I should; and are interested in Craig and his passion for weight loss which has taken him around the country in speaking engagements and on t.v. shows.
Penny Marshall, in a video at the baseball museum, talked about why she made A League of Their Own. She said that she loved that there were women who took on baseball when men were away fighting the war. She loves the idea of people embracing something new, something different. At the end of the video she says, “Don’t be ashamed of your talent; whatever it is, embrace it. Be proud.” I am proud of Cory’s family and I’m proud of my family.
At the end of the show, the Addams Family and Lucas’ family, realize that there is no normal family. We are all different in our own ways. It’s just that some people work a whole lot harder at hiding it than others.