Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Demanding Work

I’ve had a lot of demand for my work lately. In fact, my daughter is calling to me right now, “Mom, write me another story!” In the past 16 or so days I’ve written 13 stories – that’s three short of the goal, because Delaney wants a new one each day.

It’s a tough gig, because of the demands she places on me. I have to include her favorite friends. I have to write about the topic she has chosen. And I have to I put enough challenging words in it to keep her interest. If I get it just right, she will read the story 20 or so times in a row until she’s mastered every word.

Delaney likes it when I throw in something humorous, too. The line that always cracks her up is, “It is just for high school, not middle school kids,” in the story I wrote about the church youth group retreat. (That line wouldn’t be as funny to her if she were still in middle school.)

I’m particularly proud of the opening paragraph of the one called “Mom Got Stung:”

I don’t like bees. They sting.
Mom got stung at the cabin.
But not by a bee. By a scorpion.

(Delaney had a good laugh about that one, too.)

It’s interesting that even for an audience of one, I strive to take all the elements necessary for a story and weave them into a satisfying whole. (Even with a five-minute deadline, and the “boss” yelling from the next room, “Mom, hurry up!”.)

Because of Delaney’s learning disabilities (she has cerebral palsy) it has been difficult to find the right reading material for her level. Printed books with words she knows can be quite boring, so she prefers to get out the school yearbook or church directory and read her friends’ names. It’s been amazing that by giving her these stories with the right mix of challenge and comfort, I have seen her grow leaps and bounds in her reading ability.

Challenge and comfort. Comfort and challenge. I had never thought of it that way before, but I think it's what I strive for when I write music, too.