Alison Gopnik’s forthcoming book, The Gardener and the Carpenter, sheds new light on the relationship between parents and children, but it is not a parenting book. Rather, Gopnik, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, proposes that parents need not and should not seek skills to raise perfect children, as though they were tradespeople and their children, their products.
In London, I learned never to doubt myself. The heats went well. Everything went perfect. Then I got to the semifinals and everything just came right to me on the line. It threw me off. The crowd played a part. I heard the noise and I started looking around.
When Syria was still his home, Shaher Kattaf worked as a farmer in the northern city of Raqqa, picking mostly cucumbers and tomatoes. A father of two daughters, his family lived in a modest house that matched his modest wage. “It wasn’t a perfect home,” says Kattaf, now 36, speaking through an Arabic interpreter.
Even when he was growing up in a southern Ontario farming community that was almost entirely white, Michael Chong, the son of a Chinese immigrant father and a Dutch immigrant mother, says he wasn’t often conscious of looking different. He endured some schoolyard taunts and bullying when he was little, but after that he felt warmly accepted in Fergus, Ont., Chong says, and wasn’t again given cause to think much about what set him apart.
Humans are a profoundly foul-mouthed species, as anyone who’s taken part in an emotional argument, listened to a toddler recite the words she’s picked up from her family, or hit a thumb with a hammer— that is, all of us—can attest. And more so than in the not-so-distant past too, according to the scholars who are increasingly taking an interest.
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