Talking to a friend over coffee about your parenting predicaments, your concerns and worries, your joys and excitement is one thing. Putting your emotions and thoughts on paper and sharing it with the larger world is completely different. Your kids' narratives become stories that others can share--it makes you stop and think--does anyone have a private life anymore?
My son Noah, who is featured throughout the book, was 15 when I began writing. I knew that he would read the book (someday) and didn't want anything in it that would surprise him or make him feel misunderstood or misrepresented. Before I included any story or suggestion that included my kids, I would do the following:
- Ask them about their memory of the experience.
- Explain why I thought the story was important to include and why I thought it would be helpful
- Have them read the entire story and edit
- Remove any story that made them uncomfortable
It seems simple enough--but it was hard to reconcile the child I was writing about with the young adult (who is now 18) sitting across from me at dinner. Noah's heading to college in a few weeks. He's got a nice circle of friends. He's got interests that keep him engaged and happy. And he's mostly comfortable with the role Asperger's plays in his life. Yet, that's not the side of Noah I wrote about in the book. I wrote about the challenges that caused him a lot of confusion and frustration when he was in middle school (and before and after) and how we tried to solve problems together and understand each other better. When we write about our kids it's important to remember that it's a snapshot in time--our kids won't always be this way and we won't always feel this way. And we want them to know that the story of their lives is continually unfolding…
Noah introducing me at the Parenting without Panic Book Launch on July 16, 2014. He spoke from the heart, was funny and made the evening truly memorable. I love you Noah!