Tag Archives: Streb School

Acknowledging Other’s Achievements

When I asked Emma if I could post this video of her doing her latest “catch”, she said, “Yes!  Post on blog!”

I’ve written about Emma perfecting her “catch” ‘here‘ and ‘here‘ and I’ve mentioned too, the hours of practice it took, for her to get to this point.  It’s important you understand how hard she’s worked.   She didn’t suddenly climb up a ladder, grab onto the trapeze, swing a few times and then catch someone else’s arms one day.  She has been practicing this for years.  Just as she didn’t suddenly begin typing sentences or one day open up a book and start reading it, Emma has worked hard, incredibly hard and for anyone to suggest otherwise is doing her and others who are accomplishing wonderful things a tremendous disservice.

Far too often we hear stories of children and people who, seemingly miraculously, began reading grade level material or began typing their thoughts or began playing an instrument and to us, the reader, the person who has just now discovered this story, this video, this whatever it is, it seems it all happened “suddenly”, “miraculously”,  “overnight”, yet this is rarely the case.   Years and years of practice, of hard, hard work have taken place before that moment when we become aware of the person.  How many times have we heard about someone being an “overnight sensation” with lots of exclamation marks following those two words.  How often do we hear of someone who has accomplished incredible things, we marvel at them, but we also dismiss their tremendous accomplishments with our belief that it all happened “miraculously”.

The years leading up to those success stories are not so interesting to most of us.  We don’t really want to know about the daily grind, day after day of showing up to perfect or master a skill.  When we apply these same beliefs to people with disabilities we are doing them a tremendous disservice.  Not only are we ignoring the difficult work, the hours and hours they put, in practicing and honing their skills, we are dismissing all that hard work with words like “magical” and “miraculous” and we are ignoring just how hard that work is.   There is nothing miraculous about someone accomplishing something after putting in hundreds and thousands of hours of practice and hard work for years.  Their accomplishment is not an indication of our failure.  We do not need to dismiss someone else’s achievements to make ourselves feel better.

All those people who have gone on to prove themselves as more capable than most people gave them credit for are NOT examples of miracles.  They got to where they are through HARD WORK.  To all of you,  Emma Z-L, Carly Fleischmann, Tito Mukhopadhyay, Jennifer Seybert, Jamie Burke, DJ Savarese, Barb Rentenbach, Amy Sequenzia,  Emma Studer, Paige Goddard, Amanda Baggs, Henry Frost, Larry Bissonnette, Tracy Thresher, Sue Rubin, Alberto Frugone, Richard Attfield, Nick Pentzell, Rob Cutler (there are too many people to list) to all of you who have worked so hard, who continue to work every single day to communicate and do all that you do, your hard work is acknowledged and appreciated.  I need you to know how much I appreciate the days, months, years, and for some of you, decades that each of you has spent showing up, day after day to do what does not come easily.

You are leading the way for my daughter.  You are showing me how it’s done; I cannot thank you enough.

Emma practices climbing the rope wall

Nic & Em

Letting Go and Trust

Yesterday Emma did another “catch” at her trapeze school.  Yesterday’s catch was more complicated than the one she perfected a month ago and I cannot wait to see it.  I asked Em last night whether I could post it here and she said, “Yes!  Post on blog!” Since Em’s therapist, Joe, hasn’t had time to upload and send me the link from yesterday , I’m sorry, I can’t help myself, I am posting her first catch from a month ago AGAIN.  Watch all the way through to hear what Em says at the end, it makes me teary just thinking about it.

2Watching her flying through the air makes me happy.  Seeing her joy and sense of accomplishment, makes me happy.  The first time I watched her swooshing through the air I felt a mixture of joy and trepidation, the second time a soaring hopefulness of all that is possible, the third time pride, knowing how hard she has worked, trained and practiced to get to this point.  Years.  Years of practicing.  Just now, as I watched it again, I was reminded of how, it is the connections with other people who make our lives full and joyous.  Connections rooted in trust, compassion, love, and a sense of belonging.

3When Emma releases the bar and reaches out to grab the forearms of the other person, I cannot help but hold my breath.  Even though I know the ending to this particular story, I still hold my breath.  Will they catch her?  Will she fall?  Will she get hurt?  Can she trust them, rely on them to be there for her?   As I write this I know these are universal questions.  Questions I have asked with both my children in mind, questions I have asked about everyone I’ve ever loved.  But in this one instance Emma trusts the other person will be there to catch her and the tears fill my eyes because they are, yet I know this won’t always be the case.   As much as I want to convince myself that I have that power to always be there, to have every situation in my control, there will be times when I won’t be able to protect her from the disappointment and heartache that will come from trusting someone who cannot be relied upon.

But before I drift off into a melancholy laced reverie, I have to remind myself that this is my interpretation of how my daughter may or may not feel when faced with disappointment and the deep sadness that comes with trusting someone, only to feel let down by them or worse, betrayed.  My daughter has a very different outlook on life than me.  She has proven to me repeatedly that my life experiences are not accurate lenses with which to view or predict her life.  The beauty of being a mom is realizing my ideas about how my children will or won’t cope with the things thrown at them are not necessarily correct.  I believe this is what older parents of children who are now adults refer to as “letting go”!

In the twelve-step rooms there’s a great deal of talk about the g-o-d word.  It’s not a word that brings me any degree of solace, so I’ve learned to do what my friend Ibby calls a “work around”.  I don’t do the g-word, but I have faith.  Faith that if I am kind, generous and try my best to be of service, I will be better off than if I’m not.  This thinking doesn’t ensure those I love will always be safe, but it helps me stay centered and present one day at a time.  I can hear Richard’s voice in my head saying, “What?  That’s it?”  And my answer is to laugh and say, “Yup.  That’s pretty much the extent of my wisdom.”

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