Dear Taylor Swift,
It is been nearly two decades since I took pen in hand (figuratively) to write to a celebrity. Then, it was an up and coming boy band from Florida who was performing at the Mark of the Quad Cities. I, the generous manager of a men’s clothing store, wrote the 5 boys to let them know that I understood how hard it was to go shopping now that they were famous. I kindly offered to come into work before or after the mall opened to allow them to shop without being swarmed by fans. They never showed. I expect similar results here.
So why am I, an almost 40 year old adult, behaving the way an 8 year old girl would? Because I need to say thank you. I’m not going to thank you for the “normal” things that I’m sure people thank you for. I do constantly see online how great you are at recognizing your fans, like this and this or even this.
I don’t have a daughter, so I’m not going to thank you for being a seemingly good role model, even though you aren’t out in public licking doughnuts or flashing your girl parts. Let’s be honest, I’ve got serious #squadgoals because of you. That’s right, isn’t it? I’m almost 40, so I’m not hip to the lingo. None of these are the reasons that I am writing to thank you.
Several years ago, I had 2 children who had difficulty with speech. One was delayed, unable to engage in meaningful conversations and the other was eventually diagnosed as non-verbal and with autism. It was, and still is, emotionally overwhelming at times. And yes, your music is the perfect pop anecdote for misery, but its still not the reason I want to thank you.
My oldest, Brady, entered pre-school unable to form sentences. He had speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. We struggled to see improvement for many months. The therapists talked about taking him to have him tested for autism. And then “Love Story” began to flood the airwaves, constantly played on the radio and on VH1. And it became Brady’s favorite song, being requested on a constant loop most days.
And then, he started singing it. He grabbed his keyboard he had gotten for Christmas and he sang along; not just words, but sentences. He knew all the words to the song, words I didn’t even know and he sang them. Our jaws dropped.
Each song that was released from the album elicited the same results. Eventually, the keyboard was replaced by a plastic guitar and we were forced to watch VH1 constantly in hopes of catching one of your videos in order to DVR it, which we then were required to watch over and over.
Soon after, speech blossomed, and kept blossoming. Now six years later, my husband and I are generally exhausted at the end of the day from the constant chatter that fills our household.
My second son, now 8, has autism, and doesn’t speak, so I’ve got no stories of how your music inspired him to sing along….yet. However, I can thank you for what your music has done for him as well. Autism brings along it’s own sensory issues, and in particular, cutting his hair is extremely difficult. We stopped going to the barber because we didn’t want to subject the barber to the tears. We’ve cut his hair at home (using clippers because I am not any good with scissors….just look at my bangs) for the last several years, and every month, it’s something that we dread. The only beacon of hope comes when we turn on YouTube and allow him to watch music videos during the cut. He gets distracted and quiets and for a moment, it’s not so hard. Your music, in particular, draws his attention away from our task at hand and keeps him quiet, if only for a few minutes.
So there you go, Taylor Swift. I am thankful for you and your music because of what it has done for my children. And, if by some very small chance, you actually read this, keep providing the perfect soundtrack for my family…..and for our Friday night dance parties….even if the 10-year-old won’t admit to participating in them.
P.S. That group that I wrote to in the 90’s? It was N’Sync. I understand you, too, are a fan.
P.P.S Go Cubs!!