Somewhere between my son's annual science fair last year and his most recent monthly book report, I have turned into that kind of parent. You know, the kind who becomes so attached to designing and building the paper-mâché volcano that their child's involvement becomes quite beside the point?
It started out innocently enough: my idea was for Brooks to write a song about "Scaredy-Cat Catcher," a chapter book we had been reading together. Yes, it was my idea, but in my defense, I only presented it because my son's idea was to repeat a project we had done the last time (which had been my husband's idea).
On the plus side, Brooks was very involved with many aspects of this perhaps overly-ambitious project. We read the book together twice over a period of a few weeks and outlined the basic storyline. And then Brooks came up with the chorus on his own: he simply started to improvise and I picked out one of his catchier melodic phrases that rhymed.
It was when we got into writing the lyrics that I thought I might be losing him: the first clue was when he asked me if he could be excused "to go do something fun." He was pretty surprised to hear that we already were having fun. I managed to keep him engaged a little longer choosing rhymes, but I knew time was not on my side.
Although I didn't even try to get Brooks to participate in writing the piano score or notating the music into an iPad app so we could print it (Notion), he did follow an aggressive practice schedule for singing and playing the song so that we could make the video.
Here's what I loved about this project: it paired my son's reading comprehension challenges with his love of music, a refreshingly non-verbal pursuit that is one of his true strengths (sadly, to all children's detriment, the DOE continues to skimp on arts programs).
Did I get too involved in this project? I didn't think so, until the day after Brooks presented it when I found myself brooding that Mr. Neil didn't email to congratulate me on a job well done. Perhaps that's the red flag?
This post originally appeared in Capturing Autism: A mom's perspective.