The first time I heard the word "issues" used in the kid context was just after we'd moved to the house we are in now, and I was asking my neighbor where she sent her kid, a few months older than mine, to preschool.
"Well, she has…issues, and so she goes to a different school. I mean, nothing big, we're sort of working it out now…." It stopped me. Her daughter was 2, mine was 1 and a half, and I was scared. I sort of knew what she meant by issues, but I also didn't exactly. Was it going to be all right for her? Was it going to happen to me? The only real "issue" I knew about was autism, and as I'd watched my kid, waiting for her to point (how did I know not going through a pointing stage was a sign of autism? I have no idea), once she went ahead and started pointing at everything in the world, I felt like Great. That's done, I wonder where she'll go to college?
But life, as we all know, is both predictable and entirely unpredictable at the same time. And the way we live now, it's never a surprise to hear that a kid you know is getting evaluated, or receiving OT, or speech therapy, or going to a social skills group. And I think, pretty much, that these are good things. I know that I, for sure, would have benefited from a social skills group when I was a kid (and my mother agrees), and no doubt OT might have helped as well. PT? For sure. But none of that was available in the same way, then, and so I am a flinchy, easily startled grown up, who screwed up a lot in school and has a closet of clothes with all the labels cut out.
None of which, of course, made it any easier when I found out we might need to take a dip in the issues pool. What did make it easier? This:
This book is just excellent. I love Perri Klass anyway. She appears to do everything in the world, and to do it well (she is a doctor and a writer and the medical director of a freaking childhood literacy organization). Her writing is clear and human (you can find her, too, in the NY Times in the science section sometimes) and she wears her considerable intellect so lightly! It's a joy to read everything she writes. She avoids all the horrors of parenting books, particularly the alarmist "And if you don't do it this way, your kid is fucked" predictions so common in sleep books and the like.
Beyond all that, she has real love for the people who don't quite fit in; she feels, she says, that the world is a better place because of them. And she acknowledges a world that doesn't make it easy, a real world where you can't manage to get your kid to every form of therapy that exists—and that's fine. The blend of sympathy, realism, intelligence, and candor lifts a weight from parental shoulders.
So there you go. And while we're at it: any books about kids/issues that you want to throw out there? Put them in the comments.