From Left to Write March Book Club: Raising Cubby

Thanks to fellow CT blogger and bookworm Carrie of Poet in the Pantry, I recently joined the From Left to Write online book club and got accepted just in time to sign up to partake in reading March’s book, Raising Cubby: A Father & Son’s Adventures with Asperger’s, Trains, Tractors, & High-Explosives by John Elder Robison.

I joined From Left to Write because as the name implies, it’s a book club meant for writers; participants do not post a simple book review, but instead use the book as a writing prompt and let it inspire a post. I have to admit I’ve been super busy lately now that my last semester of my MBA has started up so I have not yet finished Raising Cubby (a few chapters to go!) but at this point I can safely say it’s going to get 4 out of 5 stars from me on Goodreads.

This being a book written by a parent about his relationship with his son, I was led to reflect on my own relationship with my parents. This passage in particular stuck out to me:

“Thanks to Cubby, I see the whole world differently. In that way, I became a little like him, which is how it should be. Kids are our future; we parents strive to be like them, but we should not try to make them like us. They are the next step, and we can’t know what they will do until it happens.”

I don’t want to speak for my parents, but I have received “feedback” from them in the last year or two about what my own struggles have taught them and how I have affected decisions and choices they make about how to live their own lives. My dad has stated that he looks at me and sees so many of the “type-A” traits he possesses, and watching me try to put them aside and become more “type-B” has inspired him to do the same. In fact last year his New Year’s resolution was to “make 2012 the year of the chill – Chill Twenty-Twelve”.

My mom has learned a lot from me about Gabby Bernstein’s teachings, particularly on future-tripping. In fact, it’s now a regular part of her vocabulary! We like to share with each other when we’re future-tripping and give each other advice on how to stop and focus on the present. We’re both learning how to surrender the urge to control every single situation. As John Elder Robison wrote above, “…we can’t know what they will do until it happens.” And really, we can’t know what ANYONE or anything will do until it happens.

I hope you’ve noticed this running theme…that all these photos were taken at Rooftop120!

I don’t think my parents ever consciously tried to make me like them, as Robison advises against in Raising Cubby, but I certainly have turned out very similarly, and I’m sure that’s a combination of the classic nature and nurture. I’m not just talking about purposeful nurture, but also the kind of nurturing that can shape a child’s personality unintentionally. After all, those who grow up in violent households do not often end up being violent people themselves because their parents said, “Do as I do!” It’s just a matter of what children grow up and see.

That’s an extreme example, but I think it’s interesting that Robison points out parents often need to make an effort to let their kids teach them, whereas kids learning from parents happens so naturally that parents almost have to be careful (for example, being careful not to swear in front of little ones who love to repeat new words).

So those are my Raising Cubby-inspired reflections, and I’ve also just got to say the book has also taught me a lot more than I ever have known about how someone with Asperger’s thinks! Robison writes in an authentic, believable style that really makes me feel like it was HIS words that went into the memoir, not the words of a ghost writer and/or editor.

What have you learned from your parents?

What have they learned from you?

Who’s learned more?

This post was inspired by Raising Cubby: A Father and Son’s Adventures with Asperger’s, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives by John Elder Robison. Parenting is a challenging job, but what challenges does a parent with Asperger’s face? Join From Left to Write on March 12 as we discuss Raising Cubby. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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