Melody thinks back to when she first felt she was different. It didn’t happen all at once; instead she was surprised and frustrated when she couldn’t do small things, like hold a stuffed cat her father brought home for her, or prevent herself from falling face first onto the living room rug. Because her memory was so good, and her mind could do anything she wanted Melody was even more confused by her uncontrollable body. As a baby, Melody didn’t exactly understand what was happening to her body, but her parents did. Her dad would hold her on his lap and talk to her like she was an adult, explaining that he life was going to be difficult.
Melody underscores the stark difference between her bright, quickly-developing mind, and her body. Because her brain raced ahead, initially it was extra difficult for her to understand why her body was not cooperating. From an early age, her parents were honest and open with her and they did their best not to sugarcoat the difficulties she would encounter.
Melody’s dad did his best to make sure she experienced the world as much as she could. While her mom wrapped her in blankets, her dad would unwrap her so she could feel the sun and the wind on her body. He put a birdfeeder on the porch so he and Melody could sit inside and watch the birds interact.
Melody’s parents try to protect her in different ways, but both display their deep affection for their daughter.
Melody knows that she’s “ridiculously smart.” She has great hearing and a photographic memory. After watching a PBS special on genius children, she realized her memory worked the same way as theirs. She memorized everything she read, saw, or heard: all of her picture books, infomercials, and the dialogue from her favorite television shows. She likes television, and is happy that she can control the remote to change the channel. She likes watching many types of programs, from old videos of herself, to nature documentaries (which she remembers perfectly). Still, even though she appreciates her memory, she admits “sometimes I wish I had a delete button in my head.”
Once again, Melody displays her impressive memory, both the positive and negative aspects. Remembering facts and images is fun, but she also retains information she’ll never need and does not want. This passage also shows that Melody is curious and devoted to educating herself, despite that—as readers will learn—her teachers are not always as devoted to making sure that she learns. Melody’s intelligence, curiosity, and dedication make everyone else’s low expectations for her seem cruel and misguided.
Having so much knowledge but being unable to express it is frustrating for Melody. Sometimes she has what she calls “tornado explosions,” or fits where he body gets tight and then thrashes around. These explosions happen when she’s angry or unable to express a strong emotion, but she can’t control them, and she is embarrassed by them. She remembers being at the toy store as a small child, and seeing blocks on the shelf that she knew were poisonous because she had seen on TV that they had been painted with lead paint. Melody tried to point to the toys to communicate to her mom that they needed to get the blocks removed from the store, but her mother didn’t understand. Melody became so frustrated with trying to explain herself that she had a tornado explosion and her mother, also frustrated and embarrassed at being unable to control her daughter, ran out of the store. Melody’s mother was angry and even called the doctor about the fit, but she never understood what Melody was trying to say.
Melody has very little control over her body, and while that often means it doesn’t move when she wants it to, it can also mean her body moves excessively when she wishes it would stay still. Because her memory is so sharp and she is aware of what is going on around her, these explosions are even more emotionally difficult. In this passage, Melody also has one of her first major miscommunications with her mother. Melody can often get her point across, but ironically it’s often the times when she is the most passionate about communicating that she’s unable to do so.