Tag Archives: trapeze

“Put it on the Blog!”

“Put it on the blog!” Emma said with glee as she bounded into the house. A master at multi-tasking, she twirled her string, unzipped her coat and raced off to put on some music all within seconds of opening the front door.  I knew what she wanted to put on the blog.  She’d successfully completed a catch in Trapeze School that morning.  I knew it had been recorded.  So… here it is, for all of you to see.

Yesterday afternoon Emma wrote some pretty wonderful stuff about how her body and mind are often not in sync and what that’s like for her.  We taped some of it and once I have her permission and we’ve uploaded it, I will attempt to post it here.

Earlier I showed Emma a NYTimes article about the missing Malaysian Airlines jet leaving Kuala Lumpur heading to Beijing.  I asked Emma what she thought and she wrote, “It is terrible and worrisome for all of us.”  I then asked if she had any questions and she wrote, “Has anyone asked for anything yet?”  I asked her if she meant a ransom note of some kind, to which she answered, “yes.”

I write this as an example of the sorts of things we discuss these days and because there are some who continue to doubt Emma is capable of understanding such things…

Trapeze, Knitting and New York City

“Put it on the blog!” Emma said, happily.  And so I am.

Emma has been going to trapeze school for several years now and loves it.  Absolutely loves it.  Yesterday she told me she’d like to learn how to fly an airplane and learn to knit.  I can’t help her out with learning to fly a plane, though one of her uncles can, BUT I can help her out with knitting as I learned from my mother and during a brief period in my life when I was a fashion designer, I designed…  wait for it… yup, that’s right.  Knitwear.

In fact, I used to be a contributing editor at Elle Magazine where they featured a hand knit with the pattern on the back of the page.  This was long ago, as Emma would say, and for a short time, I had my own page where once a month I designed a hand knit and it was photographed like this… A beige hoodie, which originally I had designed to have a faux fur trim around the edge of the hood, but my boss nixed that idea and so I had to remove the knitted trim.


GreenknitThis was during the 8o’s when magazines like Elle gave editors like me a car and driver.  Remember this is New York City where having a car and driver at your disposal is something people only dream of.  It was at a time when CBGB’s reigned and Studio 54 was a place many of us had danced in.  The meatpacking district was still used to slaughter meat and transvestites and transexuals hung out just west of it on the edges of the Hudson River.   Times Square was considered squalid by most and Nell’s Nightclub was in full swing.

It was a different time in New York City.  Yarn shops flourished.  On the subway, it wasn’t unusual to see people knitting, and I was one of them.

So yes, Emma.  I will teach you to knit.

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