presents: An Evening with Priscilla Gilman

Author to discuss her recent book will present an evening with Priscilla Gilman, author of The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. The book is an exploration of one woman’s expectations and hopes for her children, her family, and herself, the ways in which we are all capable of reimagining our lives and finding joy in the most unexpected circumstances.

When Priscilla Gilman’s son Benj started reading by age 2 and soon afterward began quoting from the romantic poets, she was proud rather than concerned. Both Gilman and her husband were professors of literature and were thrilled that their first child exhibited such precociousness. But an interview for admission to a preschool sounded an alarm when the admissions director said, “He seemed fixated on the magnetic letters and numbers. He didn’t answer the teachers’ questions appropriately or respond to the other children.” Gilman came to realize that the things she had “considered unique and special” about her son “were instead uncontrollable manifestations of a disorder.” After developmental specialists confirmed Benj’s diagnosis, Gilman faced a grim reassessment. “He didn’t have an interesting unusual mind; he had faulty wiring. He doesn’t have a distinctive personality; he had a syndrome.” By the book’s end, readers will realize that he has both.

Priscilla Gilman (Photo by Elena Seibert)

With a combination of memoir and literature, Gilman, explores the complexities of our hopes and expectations for our children and ourselves. In her speeches, too, Gilman illuminates the flourishing of life that occurs when the unexpected is embraced, and how events and situations often perceived as setbacks can actually enrich us. Gilman says, “Because of my experience with Benj, I’ve largely overcome perfectionism and the need to fulfill others’ expectations of me; I have a much greater tolerance of uncertainty; I live much more in the moment and care much less about what others think; I’m more adventurous and creative, less judgmental and fearful, more open-minded and appreciative of difference, diversity, individuality. Benj has taught me about the importance of developing a supple and open mind with respect to our children but also with respect to our relationship with any person whose otherness is at first disorienting, and my experience with him has shown me how situations and events first experienced as losses or disappointments can ultimately inspire and uplift us in surprising and beautiful ways”.

Gilman speaks at schools and organizations all over the country, and has just joined the Huffington Post as a featured blogger on its new Huff Post Parents page. Gilman recently appeared as a guest on The Leonard Lopate Show on NPR and has been traveling across the country on a book tour.  After speaking, Gilman will answer questions, and sign her book. Seating is limited; admission is free of charge. Refreshments, offered by Go Go Pops, will be available.

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