[Firework by Katy Perry]
Go ahead – Ask my crumbling shower walls. They’ve heard it all.
Taken a beating and then taken some more.
Good day? Bad day? CRAPTASTIC Day? It’s all in the song…
How often do you find yourself completely enveloped in a song that seems to speak directly to you and tell of your heart in that very instance?
At the same time you are experiencing the sounds of the music with your ears – your eardrums vibrating wildly – tiny hairs across your skin dance rhythmically, your senses are heightened as every neuron in your body fires in syncopation.
The arousing intro… that first verse that captures you… the chorus that makes you want to sing your heart out… the bridge that lulls you back into the theme… before bursting forth from your very core in a declaration of every emotion that has been buried within you… slowly building and building over time… you can no longer contain it… it takes on a booming voice of its own you never thought resided inside you…
“Baby, you’re a FIREWORK!”
One of the very first things we noticed about RM was her response to anything musical. Whether it was a lullaby, a Signing Time dvd or a Sara Evans song.
I have always sung to my children before they went to sleep. A favorite of late is “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”… at Christmastime it was “Silent Night”.
One evening, as I was singing to my delicious babes, snuggled in tightly together and smelling sweetly of baby shampoo, I noticed something new.
Or rather not new – but different.
If you love a child with autism, you are likely familiar with the term ‘hand-flapping’. It varies from child to child. It’s a form of ‘stimming’ or self-stimulating behavior – a mechanism by which many of our kids soothe and comfort themselves, or simply burn off an excess of nervous energy.
RM’s hand-flapping is particularly her own. For several months prior to her autism diagnosis, us proud and ridiculous parents thought she was brightly finger-spelling to herself in sign language. Go figure. She ‘flaps’ in a puppeteering motion with one hand close to her face as she stares at the movements of her long fingers.
Anyways… this night as I sang to her – her fingers began to move in such an orchestrated and delicate dance – ebbing and flowing back and forth with such precision, reminiscent of John Williams leading the Boston Pops through a 4th of July rendition of the 1812 Overture. It struck me so hard it nearly knocked the song from my lips –
My child can SEE this song I am singing.
“…Cuz, Baby, you’re a FIREWORK!…”
Synesthesia is the neurological and involuntary “crossing” of one sensory or cognitive pathway with a second. For example, a person who experiences synesthesia may hear a car horn and simultaneously feel pain, or a word written on a page may appear as each letter a different color.
I KNOW that my child has gifts.
I KNOW that she sees things most of us will never see.
I firmly believe that not only is her interpretation of the world a magical one – it is valid.
Though she may not have the words to express the song in her heart today, I know she is experiencing my love with a burst of colors that nothing can compare to. I know that my love for her will carry her through the times when she feels like she is drifting through the wind, hoping she could start again.
I know that when her skin feels paper-thin and her bundled nerves feel like a house of cards that are caving in – my love will save her. Not because it is fierce and strong and unyielding to the exhaustion of a long day with autism, but because I know that she feels my love in more ways than one can imagine.
She feels it tightly wrapped around her always – a booming firework exploding in light – smelling of sweet wildflowers and spring – and tasting like chocolate.
“…Baby, you’re a firework!…
C’mon, show ‘em what you’re worth!”
“…Even brighter than the MOON – MOON – MOON…”