I Reviewed Brain Child’s Book “This is Childhood”. I Also Reviewed Parenting. And Writing. And Things Got Very Meta.

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May 15, 2014 by Katia

This Is Childhood cover

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.

brainchild

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.

***

I HAVE THREE COPIES OF THE BOOK TO GIVE AWAY. PLEASE ENTER THE RAFFLE AND LEAVE A COMMENT TO ALLOW ME TO KEEP TRACK OF ENTRIES.
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26 thoughts on “I Reviewed Brain Child’s Book “This is Childhood”. I Also Reviewed Parenting. And Writing. And Things Got Very Meta.

  1. Thank you for loving our labor of love. I am so glad you enjoyed it!

    • Katia says:

      Allison, I was particularly mesmerized by This is Five, since it’s been my reality for almost two weeks now. I think you’ve captured it so perfectly. I even highlighted the sentences: “We feel more acutely the the ache of the passage of time. Five shows us how fast it goes.” Wow. That hit me right HERE. Thank you for stopping by and commenting and thank you for your beautiful essay.

  2. Liz says:

    Cool, I entered. I think. I’ve never done one of these rafflecopters before. Anyway, I’d heard about this book and would be interested in reading it. More so now after reading your review. The way it’s organized is very appealing.

  3. Thank you for such a generous and thoughtful review of a book that I know meant a lot to each of us who contributed to it! xox

    • Katia says:

      I was going to quote two sentences from your essay which just STRUCK me. “Motherhood has offered more surprises than I can count; but the biggest one is how limned with loss it is”.

      I was going to quote this att the end of the post but realized that taken out of context it might sound pessimistic, but oh my God, what a brilliant observation on the pain of transience. Thanks for the beautiful essay!

  4. adkamanda says:

    What a wonderful peek into the experience of reading This is Childhood. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Katia says:

      Thank you for your essay! I LOVED the part where you described the executive meeting where everyone bonded over their parenting experience. I think that the book is kind of similar in bridging over the differences and highlighting the similarities in all of our experiences.

  5. I *think* I’ve entered, too! It sounds like a great book!

  6. Nina Badzin says:

    Thank so much for this thought-provoking and generous review! I 100% get what you’re saying about Sense of Parenting vs. actual parenting.

    • Katia says:

      Thank you, Nina. I truly enjoyed your essay and I could SO relate to what you said about gaining more confidence in trusting your intuition when you turned three as a mother…🙂 It was a lovely essay.

  7. I’m eager to read it!🙂

  8. Sounds like a great read.

  9. Candid Mama says:

    This sounds like a lovely book. I haven’t read anything for fun in a long time and this sounds like it would be perfect. I entered the raffle, but I couldn’t comment with the entry. I am so not tech savvy.

  10. Jean says:

    I’m so excited they created this book. I want to read it!

  11. farmhousejournals says:

    Would love to get my hands on a copy!

  12. […] I am the Milk: 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.-Katia Barrett […]

  13. Jen says:

    The book seems really wonderful. And man, I couldn’t love your kaliedescope analogy anymore. Even when writing about someone else’s writing, you write beautifully.

  14. Dana says:

    This book would really take me back. Sometimes I wish I remembered more about what those young ages were like, even though while I was living them I thought they would last forever.

    • Katia says:

      Oh, I know how you feel, my friend, I even felt the same way myself about reading it, even though it’s only been a couple of years.🙂 My raffle is over😦 but Stephanie Sprenger just started one! Woohoo!!!

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