Deborah Reber * Workman Publishing * June 12, 2018 * 265 Pages
When I saw this quote at the very beginning of Differently Wired:
Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.
–Vincent van Gogh
I thought, “Ok yes, I’m going to love this book.”
But I’m surprised to say that I didn’t. I like the underlying idea of it. As the mother of a very smart and highly sensitive 8-year old boy, I’m all for the advice to celebrate uniqueness, ignore the standard of “normal,” and try to parent from a place of acceptance and love, not guilt and fear. But I also want more.
Author Deborah Reber talks a lot about her tough experiences with her oldest son. She talks about being frustrated with his schools, his teacher’s general lack of training and awareness, and even with herself for never seeming to quite get it “right.” Yes, yes, and yes! I agree, I’m there! So now what? Well, she solves her family’s issues by homeschooling her son. Which is fine for her, but not an option for us, so…next?
Unfortunately, there aren’t many other options in this book. Instead, Reber focuses on TILTs, which are basically ways to shift your perspective as a parent with a gifted child. Many of these TILTs are repetitive, but essentially they boil down to:
- Stop trying to be “normal.” Your child isn’t and probably won’t ever be.
- Connect with other parents who know what you’re going through.
- Learn your child’s language. Learn what certain actions or words mean to him.
- Create a safe, calm, relaxing environment for your child.
- Practice self-care.
- Advocate for your child, loudly if necessary. Then create the resources you wish you had.
Most of this advice is comforting but also obvious. (And some of it is downright unrealistic, borderline unhealthy. For example, the section on “leaning in to your child” where a mother supports her son by allowing him to control the family schedule for the entire summer. Uh, no.)
In fact, a lot of time is spent 1) complaining about how things are so hard, 2) fighting the system a little, 3) withdrawing or giving up, and then 4) comforting yourself with the knowledge that you aren’t alone. Which is a problem. I mean, it’s always good to hear you’re not the only one having trouble dealing with a bright and complicated kid, but then give me something concrete to work with. I want to move beyond whiny commiseration and hear success stories. Give me resources, classes, scripts for talking with school administrators, etc. Because at the end of the day, I don’t want to homeschool my kid. I want his teacher to understand that he’s way beyond what she’s teaching him and that he’s going to continue to act out in class until his brain is actually occupied and challenged. How do I do that?
In other words, I want to change the system, not whine about it and then comfort myself when I abandon it. I was hoping this book would help me stand in the place where I live, so to speak, but no such luck.
Thank you Workman Publishing and Net Galley for the Advanced Reader Copy!