So, how is everyone? I don’t want to ignore the scarescape that is the world right now – wildfires, ocean temperatures, democracy, war, and the usual intolerance towards anyone who looks or acts different than us – to say nothing of the Chinese economy and the bits of the rainforest where photosynthesis is slowing due to extreme heat (did you hear about that? Sheesh!) -- but I don’t know that my input does any good. Yes, I’m concerned too. There.
My lane – my tiny slice of world trouble pie – has to do with empowering kids. I want everyone to feel that it’s ok to be themselves.
To that end I'm talking up my book, At The Speed Of Gus. That's it there. After a number of chats with reading-camper teens and tweens, I’ve noticed an encouraging trend. There have been lots of questions around Gus’ personality as it relates to mine. Which is normal enough – people want to know how much of you and your awareness is in your hero. The answer with me (and every other author) is: a lot, but In Gus’ case it’s even more. His brain scattershoots a lot like mine, and the world reacts to him the way it reacts to me. Mostly, he says what he thinks rather than thinking about what he’s saying. And gets in trouble for it.
The trend I’ve noticed is the interest in neurodiversity. That’s the word everyone uses. I did not know the word a few years ago, but it’s part of the conversation now. Kids are aware of it, care about it, identify with it.
What I find incredibly moving in the questions, and attitudes behind the questions, is how very generous everyone is. They understand how Gus might think that way even if he’s wrong. There isn’t a real river of bird poop flowing in the laneway, for instance. It’s like they are patting me indulgently on the back, accepting me into the group, sharing and smiling. Welcoming the stranger. Who told us to do that?
(Oh yeah, him.)
I look forward to talking about Gus this season. For all that the world is headed for the dump in a shopping cart, kids are one reason for hope.