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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Review: The Orchid and the Dandelion

The Orchid and the Dandelion is a great counterpoint to The Highly Sensitive Child. On Amazon, the reviews of this book are not as good as the reviews to The Highly Sensitive Child. I can see why. The book is couched in academic, rhetorical language, and doesn't praise the Orchid-type children uniformly. This is important, because the author makes several important point that Dr. Aron (the author of The Highly Sensitive Child) never makes:
orchids and dandelions aren’t a binary division cutting humanity into two categories. The two flowers are powerful metaphors, or a vivid shorthand, for what is actually a spectrum. (Loc 3740)
Furthermore, there's intriguing information in this book, indicating that it might be possible to physically figure out whether your child is an Orchid or Dandelion by measuring temperature differences between left and right earlobe. This sort of identification work is very useful.

The book identifies a lot of importance about teachers:
while some teachers were exploiting the children’s social hierarchies as a means of controlling child and group behavior, others were explicitly attempting to minimize the visibility and potency of the hierarchy by employing more child-centered, egalitarian teaching approaches. Some teachers, for example, might quell a disagreement by taking a dominant child’s side or might avoid a conflict or disappointment by allowing certain kids to be marginalized or excluded. Others, by comparison, seemed to consciously employ techniques and strategies for undermining or challenging their students’ hierarchical order. This could occur if the teacher publicly noted a subordinate child’s special artistic or intellectual or athletic gift, or banned exclusionary social behavior, establishing a classroom policy in which “you can’t say, ‘you can’t play.’ ” (Loc 2611)
What's even better is that Boyce debunks Quality time as something of a myth:
I would like to debunk what has become enshrined as an almost holy artifact in the mythology of contemporary life. Quality time is simply a cultural myth. There is no such thing and never has been. So we should not count on it happening and should not try to create it. The reality is that the very best of moments with our children come at unplanned, unexpected times—during the car ride to a Saturday morning soccer game, in the middle of an otherwise uneventful bathing of a toddler, or while scrambling to get breakfast and the kids off to school. Try as we might to orchestrate such times, the closest, most cherished moments with our children come during intervals when they are least expected. Such moments cannot be arranged or planned. They simply surface out of the normal, monotonous flow of daily life, when sufficient ordinary time has been passed between parent and child. It is during such ordinary time that these moments of extraordinary communication and intimacy can occur. (Loc 2801)
So forget the Orchid/Dandelion distinction. You just need to spend more time with your children. You probably already knew that, but the book is full of stuff that reminds you to be a good parent. For that, it's well worth reading, despite the archaic and rhetorical language. I recommend this book over The Highly Sensitive Child, and I recommend this book for anyone who needs another parenting reminder.


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