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I often ask myself: is this normal? Maybe it’s my frustration at overbooking my schedule or my exasperation at my child’s latest take on misbehavior, but something prompts me to wonder if other people are experiencing the same feelings, or if I’m somehow an outlier.

Parents of extra-challenging kids find themselves asking this more often, as they measure their life and experiences against others’ and question what is normal, anyway. I recently wrote an article for Washington Parent on extra-challenging kids and the frustrations they can bring for parents.

Maybe it’s the child who leaves a stream of belongings behind him at playdates, sports fields and public venues. Or the preschooler who melts down at every single transition, even the ones you’d think would be pleasurable. Or the tween whose homework seems to be anywhere but where it’s supposed to be—whether that’s in her binder or on the teacher’s desk.

These are the children who cause us to tear out our hair and refrain from joining in the sharing of kid stories at the post-PTA meeting chit-chat. (Wouldn’t want to scare anyone!) But they are also the children who bring unexpected joy to our lives and can produce remarkable results in the world. What do you think Bill Gates’s mother thought when he dropped out of Harvard?

Do you suspect your offspring falls into this category? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Katherine Reynolds Lewis, a journalist and mother of three, teaches parenting classes at PEP.