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inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #26 of 62: Lisa Harris (lrph) Wed 13 Mar 13 18:46
    
John, Congratulations and thank you.  Call helicopter parents names,
but coming from the side where we can't get parents to come in and sign
the necessary paperwork to get kids help, it's wonderful when parents
are true advocates for their kids and partners with the school.  
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #27 of 62: Scott Underwood (esau) Thu 14 Mar 13 06:24
    
Building on <fsquared>'s question, there are surely a few dozens of
people who know Joseph and the rest of the family, and who know the
identity of the teachers you kept anonymous in the book.  You've likely
heard other anecdotes about them from other parents and former students,
but have you heard *from* them?
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #28 of 62: Jessica Mann Gutteridge (jessica) Thu 14 Mar 13 15:16
    
Count me as another who raced through this book. I especially loved
the supplement at the end -- will not spoil for those still reading. 

Even if you're not dealing with issues directly on point to Joe's, I
think this is a story that many, many parents can feel close to,
whether it's grappling with schools and teachers or worrying about how
to help your child when you see him or her struggling. It's a real gift
of John's as a writer to make these stories both specific and
universal. 

Joe has been such a terrific ambassador for the book since it came
out. I predict great things for that young man. How have your other
kids reacted?
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #29 of 62: Julie Rehmeyer (jrehmeyer) Thu 14 Mar 13 15:47
    
I'd also love to hear about the effect the experience of publishing
the book, and playing ambassador for it, has had on Joe.
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #30 of 62: not Well-kinky, but normal-person kinky. (jswatz) Thu 14 Mar 13 18:51
    

  sorry that the day got away from me, guys! Let me start in on this:

  "all boy." In the way you discuss it, Brady, I see how it could offend.
Obviously, Joe was a boy; he was just a very effeminate boy. In a world
where traits like "girly" are easily understood, it didn't cross my mind.
Now I think that it probably should have. I was happier with the sentence in
which I said Sam had "a lot of yang," which got the same idea across. But I
didn't mean to imply Joe was less of anything. We had such a strong example
of those boy-snips-and-snails-rough-and-tumble qualities in Sammy, and so
little of that in Joe, those classic "boy" traits. I can tell you that Joe
didn't say anything about the phrase when he read it in the book, and I
haven't had any of the gay men who have written to me about how the book
described their childhood tell me that the phrase bothered them.
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #31 of 62: John Schwartz (jswatz) Thu 14 Mar 13 19:02
    <scribbled by jswatz Thu 14 Mar 13 19:25>
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #32 of 62: not Well-kinky, but normal-person kinky. (jswatz) Thu 14 Mar 13 19:05
    

  The other kids have reacted well to the book! I showed to them, of course,
when the manuscript was done, and they had things to add, thoughts. Sam has
snarked a little about being relegated to the role of foil, but he had the
most constructive comments about the book. Elizabeth wrote to say the book
made her cry, and she's been a big advocate on Facebook.

  They are pretty damned great, I've gotta say.
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #33 of 62: not Well-kinky, but normal-person kinky. (jswatz) Thu 14 Mar 13 19:18
    

>>> I'd also love to hear about the effect the experience of publishing
 the book, and playing ambassador for it, has had on Joe.

   Joe likes the fact that there's a book out, likes the fact that it might
be helping some people. He'd held the process at arms' length for a while,
and left the book talks and interviews to me for the most part. He's started
participating more in interviews, and gaining confidence in the process.
When we went into NYC to tape a segment of Katie Couric's show last week,
Joe spoke with real confidence about his experiences.

    I ask if he wants to do book talks or interviews with me; sometimes he
says yes, but he usually says no. I don't push. He jumped at the chance to
meet Katie Couric, though.

    Some of the kids at school and at his summer camp have read the book and
talk to him about it, and he says many of them tell him he's "brave." He
tells this with something of an eye roll. He doesn't think that he's done
much that is special.

   So we don't seem to have turned him into a media monster. He's still very
much Joe. In December, an editor for a young adult imprint asked if Joe
would like to write his own book. He thought about it, and decided he's not
ready to take on a project like that. But wow, would I like to read it.
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #34 of 62: not Well-kinky, but normal-person kinky. (jswatz) Thu 14 Mar 13 19:20
    

  getting back to this point:

>>> It does seem like a very delicate balance, between the need to protect
 vulnerable kids from bullies and the need to develop a thick enough
 skin to deal with the various people you are just plain stuck with in
 the rest of your life.  I've often thought that some kind of dorm or
 barracks experience ought to be universal, because it helps you not
 only to deal with the people you're stuck with, but to realize (if you
 have any sensibility at all) that you're not always a peach to be
 around either.  And we're back to the delicate balance.

   that's a central concept of the Bazelon book, and I focus on it at the
conclusion of my review in the Times. We've got to find a way to let kids
run up against SOME trouble, to work through some conflict.
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #35 of 62: not Well-kinky, but normal-person kinky. (jswatz) Thu 14 Mar 13 19:24
    

and, getting back to this point:

>>> Yet-- in this era of helicopter
 parents (I mean-- this era of that being a term that gets mocked or
 criticized and sometimes rightly so) it seems like such a delicate balance
 to advocate for a kid, or take things up the chain.

 How do you figure out when to act? How far to go?


--------------------

   We just stumbled along blindly. There are plenty of times, and we discuss
some of them, when we've decided NOT to fight a teacher, especially as Joe
moved from elementary school to middle school and had to start advocating
more for himself. That's the process we went through with all of the kids.

   If nothing could be accomplished from dealing with a teacher, disputing a
grade or treatment we thought was unfair, we'd generally stand down. They
tell parents to pick their fights with their kids; we've learned to pick our
fights with the system as well.
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #36 of 62: not Well-kinky, but normal-person kinky. (jswatz) Thu 14 Mar 13 19:29
    

about the school:

   We've heard very little. A teacher who is somewhat recognizable as the
third grade teacher, one of the good ones, got in touch to tell me that she
liked the book, and that she heard some grumbling in the teachers' lounge
from someone who wasn't mentioned in the book that she heard it was bad; she
had not read the book.
      The fourth-grade teacher who was a bully, not just to Joe but to so
many other kids, passed away a couple of years ago. (I mentioned in the book
that he was very sick even then, and had wanted to go on disability but
couldn't afford to.)
   Some of the others have moved on, some have stayed. No from the schools
has said a word to me, aside from that one teacher.
      A few months before the book came out, I went to see the
superintendent of the school district to tell him the book was coming, and
to let him know that I didn't see it as an attack on these schools; I
explained the name of our town is nowhere to be found in the book, because I
felt that this is a story that could be found in many towns.

     He thanked me and asked what I wanted him to do. I told him that I
wasn't asking him to do anything, but I wanted him to know it was coming,
and to direct any complaints about the book to me. I didn't want him to have
to deal with it, since the incidents in the book came before he came to
town, and I wanted to deal directly with anyone who felt I had gotten things
wrong or felt under attack.
      He never called. No one has called or written with a complaint. But a
fair number of people in town have told me I got it just right.
      I spoke to the town's parent group for special ed kids and it went
really well; a member of the school board and I talked for a long time
afterward about how to make the schools more responsive.
      I waited to be attacked, snarked about, criticized by the teachers,
the administrators, or people in town. Hasn't happened. Actually, it's
amazed me.
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #37 of 62: Stoney Tangawizi (evan) Thu 14 Mar 13 20:22
    

Sorry, I missed this.  Is it on Kindle?
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #38 of 62: paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Thu 14 Mar 13 21:13
    
Yes.  That's how I read it (Kindle app on various devices).
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #39 of 62: not Well-kinky, but normal-person kinky. (jswatz) Fri 15 Mar 13 04:14
    

  a warning about the Kindle edition of the book: Kindle starts the book at
chapter one, skipping the Foreword. The Foreword is important.
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #40 of 62: Julie Rehmeyer (jrehmeyer) Fri 15 Mar 13 07:47
    
Oh really? Wow. I read it on Kindle, so I missed it. Is there any way
we Kindle folks can read it?
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #41 of 62: paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Fri 15 Mar 13 07:48
    
I always scroll back to the cover when I open a Kindle book. 
Otherwise I miss cover images, forewords, epigraphs, dedications....
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #42 of 62: Julie Rehmeyer (jrehmeyer) Fri 15 Mar 13 08:03
    
Oh, I see -- you don't mean it's not there, just that you have ro
scroll back. Goign to look now...
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #43 of 62: Brady Lea (brady) Fri 15 Mar 13 08:58
    

Weird about kindle books! I did not know that. I agree the forward is
important, and also sets you up to really want to tear through the whole
book.

Re: my earlier question about "all boy" and related ideas, just to respond
to John's post 30:

I didn't get from the book that you thought Joseph was Less Boy compared to
your older son at all. Or that "girly" things he liked made him less so. I'm
just thinking of the language out in the world at large. That "girly" and
"gay" get hurled around as insults for kids (don't have the book in front of
me, but one of Joseph's bday parties is held at a place that the boys of his
age have decided is "for girls") when in fact, as we move forward, we hope
that neither will be an insult.

I'm reading the piece on trans kids in the current New Yorker right now,
which also has me thinking about the broader spectrum kids are growing up
in, where it is clear there's a broader spectrum and male and female and
manly and womanly don't even begin to cover it. As a former girl (and
current woman) I can say that I don't want "girly" to be an insult to boys
or girls or anyone, and I don't want "all boy" to exclude boys who might act
and think differently but identify fully as boys.

I only meant to wonder about how we can think about whether to use these
terms, or what kind of vocabulary will we develop to shape the changing
reality of diversity and acceptance of queer youth (and adults for that
matter.)
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #44 of 62: not Well-kinky, but normal-person kinky. (jswatz) Fri 15 Mar 13 09:52
    

It's a fascinating question--we don't want our language to become
homogenized and totally bland, but we don't want it to wound the innocent,
either. So I'm glad you raised the question.
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #45 of 62: not Well-kinky, but normal-person kinky. (jswatz) Fri 15 Mar 13 09:54
    

   I kept seeing reader reviews that said the book seemed to start so
slowly, and how could possibly be getting all of this detail down
accurately, and other questions that are answered, or at least addressed, in
those first few pages. And then a friend's cousin asked me about those same
things over Thanksgiving, and that's when it all clicked.

   Horrified. I was horrified.
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #46 of 62: not Well-kinky, but normal-person kinky. (jswatz) Mon 18 Mar 13 06:22
    

   still here , folks!

   thought I'd share a rcent blog post by Joe:

>>>
    dear parents
thank you for the shoddy genetic blueprints
i didn’t really need working organ systems or neurostructure
the homosexuality and occasional gender confusion have made my life
infinitely easier as well
with love, joe
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #47 of 62: Ed Ward (captward) Mon 18 Mar 13 07:40
    
And if you, the non-Well-member reader, have a question or comment,
operators are standing by, monitoring e-mails to inkwell [at] well
[dot] com, to swiftly pass them on to this conversation. 
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #48 of 62: not Well-kinky, but normal-person kinky. (jswatz) Mon 18 Mar 13 08:33
    

  I fear the sound of crickets.
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #49 of 62: David Wilson (dlwilson) Mon 18 Mar 13 12:26
    
Hi John

I'm coming a little late to the party but I've been on the journey a
lot longer than you have.  My son is 30 yrs. old, came out as gay in
his late teens, and during the prior confusion period had a psychotic
break and was diagnosed with a major mental illness.

I read your book with interest about the ADD and IEP and the
interactions you had with the schools and the mental health industry. 
Your chapter on the relationship of mental illness to homosexuality was
too much of a overview and didn't help me much.  In my son's case I
always sensed a strong possibility that there is a relationship between
the two. Do you have any pointers besides the "usual suspects?" 
  
inkwell.vue.462 : John Schwartz: Oddly Normal
permalink #50 of 62: not Well-kinky, but normal-person kinky. (jswatz) Mon 18 Mar 13 13:53
    

   David, you might take a look at Andrew Solomon's "Far From the Tree,"
which deals with mental illness and other conditions that lead people to be
isolated from the mainstream. But the central point to the research that I
read was that there is nothing inherent in homosexuality that links it to
mental illness, though the stress of being a sexual minority can make things
hard on anyone and does seem to be linked to higher rates of depression,
etc. I'm not sure there is more than that to find.
  

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