480. It’s Friendlier With Two


17264018710_0932570f24_zWe left early on a Saturday morning to see Ezra’s first soccer game. I had Red the wheelchair in the trunk but didn’t even use him. I took my chances on the grass and had my backpack and Mommy’s fancy camera strapped to my person so I eschewed Leo the cane, too, in order to enjoy greater freedom of movement.

In an impressive display of mobility I walked around the pitch and rolled around in the grass (on purpose) to get into position to take pictures. Lots of pictures. My method of photography is to put the camera in sports mode and depress the shutter indefinitely. Out of 100 pics, I hope for 2-3 good ones. I think this camera takes 4 frames per second. I purposefully chose a small DSLR that would be easier for Mommy’s hands to hold, and mine, too.

So yeah, I took LOTS of pics: 1,035. I might have gotten a little carried away, but what can I say – it was an absolutely beautiful day, the soccer game was very entertaining, and my children are exceedingly good looking. Whatcha gonna do?

The best part was when a Mom stood up on the sideline and called to her little girl (wearing pink shin guards),

Honey – there is NO HOLDING HANDS in SOCCER! You gotta run after the ball!!!!

There did seem to be a lot of hand holding going on out there.

But it was funny because the little girl was just holding hands with a teammate for kicks. It’s like the Winnie the Pooh adage, It’s friendlier with two.

Last week Coach R and I hit another milestone. First of all, I noticed him assume the observing stance and watch me in the AlterG for a long time. Usually he allows me a pretty large perimeter or stands behind me and looks at my feet through the bubble window. This time I noticed him closing in over the course of several minutes. If you don’t know what I mean by “observing stance” – this is it:

Classic Observing Stance

Classic Observing Stance

Feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, arms akimbo or one hand rubbing the chin, (you can’t see it from this angle) eyes almost glazed over with the intensity of focused observation. They all do it. That’s how I know Coach R is watching – even though I don’t recognize his physical characteristics while I’m running, I can tell through the blur of peripheral vision when someone is watching me intently – and no one’s going to be doing that except him.

Based on what he saw he decided to make Training an “athletic day.” [Umm….I thought that’s what we were doing all along.] So he proceeded to put me through my paces, and after a few laps on the Agility Ladder he says, Okay, now this time, I want you to move your arms…You know, athletically.

Agility Ladder

Agility Ladder

I laughed for a while. It was one of those times when I looked at his face and said, Oh no, wait – you’re serious! Sorry, my bad.

Internally I’m all, So how am I supposed to move my arms “athletically” and hold your hand at the same time?

Answer: Coach R linked pinkies with me and said I was supposed to swing his arm concurrently with mine as the opposite foot advanced on the Ladder while maintaining a very light grasp on his finger.

Umm, what? I have a brain injury – leave me alone.

“I know that trick, R,” I informed him. I did not just fall off the turnip truck, thanks. I know where this is trending. A6 Frankenstein did this to me when he taught me to walk. A bracing handhold turned into a light grip on his extended index finger, and then it was, Now just PRETEND like you’re holding on. And eventually I walked by myself. After I cried a lot (in private) bc I was terrified and bought some motivational jewelry.

277.  Wake Up Call

277. Wake Up Call


I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before that Coach R would have been working towards this goal. Maybe I blocked out the possibility as a defense mechanism. I’m good at that.

“Did you see me fall down?!?!? NO. ” I protested. The implication was, Picky picky…If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

I want to hold your hand. :/ It was panic-induced plain speech.

But he was unmoved. So I suggested that we dispense with the hand-holding entirely. I mean, if I’m going to hold your hand you might as well make yourself useful or get out of my way. You’re either helping me or hindering me, Buddy

“No,” he responded flatly. Apparently Coach R has a step-by-step plan whereas I prefer the cold-turkey method.

Fine. I made him pretend to be me while I “guarded” to see what he wanted me to do. I still didn’t get it so when it was my turn I proceeded down the Ladder and tried desperately to move my arms in an athletically coordinated manner but he ended up having to swing my arm (the right one was the side our pinkies were linked) for me. The left one was flopping frantically. Hey, at least it wasn’t in the “handbag” position.

the "handbag" | 32.  Concessions

the “handbag” | 32. Concessions


Eventually, after a few more patterns that (thankfully) did require arm-swinging, we moved on to some other new and exciting movements. But the shift in our approach to Ladder Time was clear to me.

“I can feel my brain changing,” I told Coach R. It’s gradually getting easier and I don’t have to “think” as hard – that’s why he chose to introduce the arm element this time. It’s like when learning to walk I was so confused about having to remember all of these things at once, but eventually it just “clicked” as my brain re-formed the right connections.

That’s the point of this. The purported goal is to eventually operate independently. Because it’s true – There’s no holding hands in soccer. But I’m just saying that right now it really is friendlier with two.

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!



5 thoughts on “480. It’s Friendlier With Two

  1. Great choice in motivational jewelry. Makes me think I need to look into a ring! And also great use of “Umm, what? I have a brain injury – leave me alone.” HAHAAAAA!

  2. The soccer day with your kiddos, and the Mom with the pink-shin-guarded daughter! So funny!
    And wow, the agility ladder with arm motions sounds intense. I’m so glad you have skilled professionals (mostly) gently pushing your limits and making you stronger.

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