It's We Recommend, in which we do our very best to solve book-related quandaries, needs, and other miscellany, and then turn them over to you, the readers, who really solve them. Need help finding the right book? E-mail us with some information about your reader, likes and dislikes, and anything else, and we'll do our best. Now, on to our challenge!
Wow, folks. Here is one that I think calls out for our help, and at the same time makes me feel puny and powerless. Check it out.
Here's the thing: I barely like my ten-year-old anymore. She's driving me nuts. We clash ferociously several times a week, and the emotional fallout drifting down on us afterwards lasts long enough to taint even the times when we aren't fighting. A lot of times I hate her and she hates me.
So that's. . . hard on us both, as you can imagine. We are seeing a therapist who I think is going to help us a lot, and I'm really earnest about exploring what my role is in these clashes. (It's not all her, obviously. Even though it can feel like that to me.)
In the meantime, I'd love to be able to casually leave some books around that address fighting between children and parents and how, even though it's a scary, horrible period to go through, it doesn't threaten the underlying, permafrost layer of love and care and commitment that will never go away. I want to let her know that I'm still here for her and I'm trying so hard, even in those times when we're both vibrating with fury.
Being a parent (or really anyone involved in a loving relationship with another person) is one of the most difficult things in the world. My extremely smart husband once pointed out to me that your own children are the only people you get as angry at as you get at yourself, and I have found that to be true. The immense frustration of watching them do the same dumbass things you do can drive a person crazy, and all you want is for them to be endlessly happy and not make all the stupid mistakes you make plus any others! Is that so much to ask? The only thing I have found in any reliable way to help me in my quest to be a parent who is not screaming every single second of the day is to tell myself, "You get what you get and you don't get upset." And what you "get" in this is your children, difficult, wonderful, impossible inexplicable human beings that they are. But don't get upset!
Now enough about me and my not quite homespun wisdom and on to the matter at hand: what book should be left out for this strained 10-year-old to read? Weirdly enough, I first though of Little Women, a book I hated as a kid but appreciate as a grown-up. Jo's struggle with her temper really speaks to me, and might to this kid, but it's an awfully big mouthful to take, especially when things seem to feel so acute.
I know there are probably all sorts of American Girl type books that might be just perfect here (surely they publish "How Can My Mom and I Stop Fighting?!?!" and if they don't they should and give me some credit), but I don't know of any in specific. Besides, it's tricky to know exactly what sorts of books will tempt this reader, as we only know of her situation and not so much what she likes. So we think somre more.
And so we come to Rissa Bartholomew's Declaraion of Independence
. Its focus is on its author's sense of betrayal by her friends in middle school, as they disappear into the maelstrom of lip gloss etc, but the person who is stubborn and doesn't understand is her own mother, and it talks in a very approaching-honest way about both sides, and how that feels, and how they are eventually able to communicate with one another.
I figure that maybe showing her that other people go through it and come out the other side might help. It can be scary to be so angry, and it's nice to see someone (even in a book) fall apart and then live through that.
But surely, surely you, my readers, have other options to suggest. Put them in the comments, please, and we wish our recommendee much peace and happiness.