Room to Grow
22 Writers Encounter the Pleasures and Paradoxes of Raising Young Children
“The writing and the experiences are rich enough that one can even recommend the book to nonparent friends.”
Harnessing the writing skill of a score of top contemporary writers, Christina Baker Kline has crafted a collection of essays that touches the core of modern parenthood. A remarkable exploration of the parenting experience, ROOM TO GROW eloquently discloses those moments of joy and heartache, closeness and separation, wonder and exasperation, amazement and exhaustion that parents encounter every day with their young children.
In this volume, an impressive array of contemporary writers takes on the formidable task of defining the essence of being a parent.
The contributors to this collection include a number of known and respected names, including Francine Prose, Susan Fromberg Schaeffer, and Larry Brown, as well as some talented new voices. They represent a wide spectrum of ages, experiences, writing styles, geographical locations, and cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The one trait they share is a willingness to dig deep and write with honesty about their experiences as the parents of children between the ages of 2 and 10.
With a perfect balance of humor and pathos, intensity and lightness, the essays that comprise Room to Grow (St. Martins, 2000)explore the "whys" rather than the "how-tos" of parenting. Each of these entertaining and evocative essays focuses on one central issue about raising young children:
Alice Elliot Dark on the decision to have only one child
Michael Laser on the complexities of being a stay-at-home father
Rob Spillman on wanting to give his own children the childhood he never had
Maxine Chernoff on raising twin boys who are very different from each other
Jon Katz on the overlooked pleasures of the after-school carpool
Annaliese Hood on the joys and the pains of adoption
Roberta Israeloff on anticipating the end of her youngest son’s childhood
Noelle Oxenhandler on a child’s capacity to reshuffle a parent’s priorities
and 14 more insightful, humorous and profoundly moving essays
As in her acclaimed first collection, Child of Mine, Baker Kline demonstrates her ability to draw from her contributors the deep essence and meaning of their experience. As a result, Room To Grow, while more diverse and less specific than Child of Mine (which concentrated on the first year of parenthood), resounds with insight, humor, and thought-provoking excellence.
The diversity of these personal essays -- the trouble and trauma of naming a child, the nightly reading ritual, the experience of adoption, the decision to have only one child -- is highly appropriate for the subject matter, which includes the experience of parenting children as a whole, from toddlerhood to pre-adolescence, and the voices of both fathers and mothers.
“In the end,” writes Christina Baker Kline in her Introduction, “the pieces in this book are candid, reflective, and intimate. Telling stories small and large, these essayists capture the essence of parenthood: what it means to be deeply connected to another human being, and what we face as we begin the attenuated process of letting go.”
“Novelist Kline asked writers – male and female, black and white, famous and less so – to write about their experiences as parents. The result is a strong collection of heartfelt essays dealing with the joys, frustrations, insecurities, and discoveries of parenthood.”
“From Lindsay Fleming's heartbreak at a daughter's public soiling of herself, to Hillary Seldan Illick's hysterical essay about her difficult preschool daughter ("I thought about printing up a bumper sticker: WHAT YOU CANNOT STAND ABOUT YOUR CHILD, YOU REALLY CANNOT STAND ABOUT YOURSELF"), to Rob Spillman's learning nursery rhymes for the first time, this collection has both breadth and breath, and resounds with both love and meaning.”
“A stay-at-home father admits to the “solitary confinement and sensory deprivation” of caring for a new baby in a new house in the dead of winter. A mother ponders her decision to have one child, and its effect on her son. A father winces as his son fails to shine on the soccer field, a reflection of his own inability to fit in among his upscale neighbors. These are the everyday realities of parents’ lives, the disappointments as well as the joys, that most parents just don’t talk about. And they are exactly the experiences that editor Christina Baker Kline sought from writers for this collection of essays about parenthood … A metaphysical guide to parenting.”
“The writing and the experiences are rich enough that one can even recommend the book to nonparent friends."
”These are the everyday realities of parents’ lives, the disappointments as well as the joys, that most parents just don’t talk about.”
-New Orleans Times-Picayune