Monday, January 10, 2011

Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention

A few months ago I read a memoir titled Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention, by Katherine Ellison. In it, Ellison describes what life was like for her the year she decided to focus on her older son and his ADD, a brain based disorder she shares. (In the LA Times, Ellison used "ADHD" to describe the condition she and her son have. For the purposes of this post, and the book, the difference doesn't matter.)

Buzz is one of the best memoirs I've read and one of the best parenting books. I haven't read that many ADD/ADHD books, but I'm guessing it's one of the best books about the disorder a parent or person affected by it in some manner shape or form could read. It's clear and honest about what it means to live with ADHD yourself and what it's like to try to help a child navigate life with it. In fact, my husband is reading it now and he read a line to me from it last night and I said, "I want to re-read that book."

Ellison is a wonderful writer and she portrays herself and her family members with compassion, grace, sarcasm, anxiety, and great good humor. She's no sugar-and-spice-and-everything-nice kind of mom; she is unafraid to show her nagging self, her impatient self, her demanding self, her worrying self. But she's so funny and real. She's trying really hard, like we all do. I wish I lived next door to her and I hope fervently that she'd like me. (Except that if I did I'd live in California and I'd have to drive everywhere.)

One of the most moving parts of the book is the year Ellison chose to pay attention to her son and his ADD (as well as her own) also happened to be the year before his bar mitzvah. The big event isn't the main focus of the book, but it's a big part of the family's story and it's so incredibly moving, well, I'm getting a little weepy just thinking about it. I won't write about what the bar mitzvah talk made me think about what I had to do for me and my family, but I will urge everyone to read this book. Even if you don't have a child with ADD or ADHD, there's something to be gained from wondering about the limits of equanimity and the role of the parent.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Robin, thank you so much for this lovely review! Since you don't live in California, alas, you can at least check in at the Facebook page for Buzz, and we can chat.