I Reviewed Brain Child’s Book “This is Childhood”. I Also Reviewed Parenting. And Writing. And Things Got Very Meta.26
May 15, 2014 by Katia
It took me a week to read This is Childhood, a compilation of essays edited by Marcelle Soviero and Randi Olin, editors of Brain Child Magazine. I could have easily consumed the book in one sitting, but then I wouldn’t be prolonging the joy it gave me. And THIS, my friends, is adulthood.
When I was offered the opportunity to write this review I was all over it. I enjoy reading Brain, Child Magazine and being reminded of the existence of these atrophied itsy bitsy (or is it incy wincy?) little brain parts. If you’re a new(ish) parent, like me, as you start reading the book you may experience this long-forgotten sensation of incy wincy brain cell motion, but when it comes to body part involvement in the reading process, what’s absolutely guaranteed is that you’ll be reading the book with your heart.
There was nothing I didn’t love about This is Childhood, starting with its format. Each chapter in the book is written by one of the magazine’s regular contributors and dedicated to a particular year in their child’s life between ages one to ten. The chapters are short, blog post-like, but intense with every word in them dripping with motherly love and wrapped in so much significance that is both private and universal. At the end of every chapter you’ll find a personal note from the author elaborating on the essay and providing it context. You will also find the authors’ answers to different questions such as “what was a milestone experience with your two-year-old?” or “at age nine, did you see hints of the older person your child would become?” You’ll be encouraged to journal your own memories.
Reading the book, I’ve made an interesting discovery about those seemingly private you-had-to-be-there-to-fully-appreciate kind of mother on child moments. As a blogger I find myself drawn to portraying these precise experiences that are more challenging to replicate in writing as they carry such personal meaning bestowed upon them by family history, emotional baggage and your academic degree in What It Means To Be Your Child. Is it even possible to write about these moments in a way that would be meaningful to anyone but yourself? The comments I get as a blogger suggest that yes, maybe. As a reader of This is Childhood I came to the conclusion that yes, definitely.
When I was a child I thought that kaleidoscopes were magical. Parenting is a bit of a magical kaleidoscope itself. Within our similar cylinders you’ll probably find the same little particles: all consuming love and frustration, awe and fascination with your subject of study and research, longing to go back in time or make it stand still blended with excitement and anticipation of what the future brings, tears of joy and sadness. While we, as families, may share those particles, we arrange them differently to create our unique spread. The essays in This is Childhood offer a glimpse into someone else’s arrangement which is so different and at the same time so heartsqueezingly familiar and relatable.
It’s difficult to highlight favourite essays. The angles chosen by the different authors are versatile and surprising. Nina Badzin tries in This is Three to identify the universal traits that make Three-ness while Aidan Donnelley Rowley talks of a personal, extremely relatable experience, of wanting to cling to her younger daughter’s age one for as long as possible on the week before she turns two. In another exquisite essay Galit Breen chose to share a few scenes depicting moments spent in the course of one day with her four year old son to capture the spirit of four. Bethany Meyer and Tracy Morrison rely on that “academic degree” mentioned earlier to conduct a fascinating and heartwarming comparative analysis of their different children at ages six and seven respectively.
There’s a difference between Sense of Parenting and actual Parenting. Sense of Parenting is that box where we keep all of our ideals, thoughts, ideas about parenting. Actual parenting is what happens when those meet our kids and often clash with them. I think that I’ve come up with a way to summarize This is Childhood. Reading the book for me was a Sense of Parenting enhancer and magnifier. It reminded me to never take it for granted and approach actual parenting with awe.
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