Samstag, September 29, 2007

Knitters, but not much knitting

I just bought a Perri Klass book. No, not Two Sweaters for My Father. I bought Klass's Quirky Kids: Understanding And Helping Your Child Who Doesn't Fit in. I hadn't even bothered with who the author was, so I was startled to recognize a name familiar to me from the knitting world.

I bought the book because I have interesting grandkids. One, who is in a program for gifted students at school, makes faces and can't stand still when on the spot in front of a group. One can't deal with change, and throws loud tantrums when faced with new experiences. My kids were interesting as children, too, but I didn't have a book to help me deal with a 3-year-old who sat reading a book while the friend invited to a play date played with the toys alone, or the teenager who sat on the roof for privacy--contemplating suicide, as I later learned.

I'm not even sure I recognized my kids' quirks as odd, possibly because of my own childhood. I had hidden under beds and high in treetops to get free time to read. I had been kicked out of religious instruction classes because of inappropriate social behaviors such as constant talking and climbing out of windows when bored. In fact, I made faces and couldn't stand still when on the spot in front of a group.

Luckily my children are all still alive, seem reasonably happy, and are living productive lives. But I am interested to see that there are suggestions these days for helping interesting kids mesh with society. One daughter is using Social Skills Training for Children and Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome and Social-Communications Problems to help her child adjust to kindergarten. A niece (scroll to her entry for January 4th) recently testified before Congress on the importance of funding for home schooling when schools fail the quirky child. The idea behind these programs is not to iron out the quirks, but to help the child learn to fit into society comfortably without having to become someone else.

I think being quirky helps people be more creative. In our crew, all but one of my kids knits, and that one paints, embroiders and sews. We have architects; we have graphic artists ranging from painting to woodcarving; some of us are musicians, including both rock and classical performers (how about a bagpiper and an opera singer?*), composers, and a conductor; most of us are writers, and one is a coder. The least quirky one of the bunch is a compulsive baker who wakes me at night with phone calls extolling the most recent recipe she's developed.

I'm glad no one ironed out my quirks. I'm glad I didn't iron out theirs. But if there are things we as grandparents can do to help our little guys feel more comfortable being themselves in the world, I want to know about them. And I wish I could make it for more than 45 minutes on my composition project before I am compelled to go write an essay about quirkiness. I think my sister told me she has a book to help adults cope with ADHD . . .

*I've included my kids' spouses in this list. You don't marry into our family without being a little quirky yourself.


Laritza hat gesagt…

I am glad no one ironed out your quirks. I like you just as you are!

Tola hat gesagt…

me too

KnitNana hat gesagt…

Lovely essay - and so valuable. I am off to find Perry's book. I'm quirky, too, as is my DD, and with her three boys coming up and hearing all sorts of "diagnoses" - most of which don't make much sense to me - I think I'd like to read more about it from someone who is also a knitter.

Like the others above, I'm glad your quirks aren't FLATTENED!

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