You can get Bullet Seed straight away. Not the best move, but better than Absorb imo. Rock Smash has like 20 base power.
As far as Norman, you are right, I was underleveled. Mainly because I couldn't really train the dude in Flannerys gym, so I had to rely more on Hariyama and Peppiler. But after Norman, I battled the Water trainers in the sea to get at the same level as the rest of my team.
I agree on giving him EQ and Dragon Claw, I'd probably add Aerial Ace on there as well.