I’ve basically given up on listening to music when I run. It’s all podcast everything these days. In fact, this morning I was so riveted by an episode of NPR’s Fresh Air that I was thinking about keeping the run going, long past mileage goal, just so I could hear the last bits of the show. The rain made the call for me, but I stood there by the front door mat, just listening.
Fresh Air host Terry Gross was talking to Andrew Solomon about his new book, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity. It’s a giant book (1,000 pages) tackling an enormous idea: learning to accept and love your exceptional child. And by “exceptional,” Solomon means children who are profoundly different and atypical and “by external standards” possibly hard to embrace. Children coping with autism, dwarfism, Down syndrome, schizophrenia, and severe disabilities. Children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who are transgender, and who become terrifying criminals. He even interviewed Susan and Tom Klebold, the parents of Dylan Klebold, one of the two teenagers responsible for the Columbine school shooting.
In the NPR interview, Solomon does the best job of explaining what the book is about: “Parents can love almost anyone who is presented to them as their child and that love has a compelling urgency to it that rises above any difficulty.”
Hearing Solomon talk so eloquently and with such compassion for the 300(!) families he spoke to in order to write the book makes me eager to read it. I did some poking around on the book’s Flash-y web site too. Reading some of the excepts and themes of this hefty work, I can see how some might say, Yeah, this is not for me. However, reading Solomon’s first few lines (“Our children are not us.”) tells me there’s probably a solid message about true unconditional love that we could all use.
You can listen to the Fresh Air podcast below: