Namine and I went to the park after I got home from work yesterday evening. The weather looked threatening, but it never rained. It was a nice warm evening to get out and go for a walk.

I asked Namine if she wanted to go to the park across the street, which is smaller, or the big one farther away. She said she wanted to go to the big park. It’s about a mile away, so we started walking. Namine wheeled herself almost the entire way there.

When we were less than halfway there, Namine complained that her arms were tired, and would I please push her? I said yes, but at the next intersection, I said, she had to push herself. I had a plan to get her to wheel herself the rest of the way.

When we got to the street intersection, Namine took over without being prompted. As we walked, I asked Namine about her day. She told me that she was kinda naughty in the morning, because she didn’t want to come back inside when it was time. Then she told me proudly that she behaved herself for school.

Namine told me all about her day. The reading and writing that she’d learned, the school videos she watched, the games she played after her worksheets were done. She kept talking and talking, happy to tell me everything she could remember. And before she knew it, we were at the park. “Hey!” she said. “I wheeled myself all the way here!” Distraction can be a useful thing.

My dad always told me, when he made me go for runs with him, “If you have the energy to talk, you have the energy to run.” Namine can’t run, but pushing herself in her wheelchair is hard enough. And she had plenty of energy.

Namine loves swinging.

Namine still uses the bucket-seat swings, what she calls the “little kid swings.” She identifies herself as a “big girl,” but she refuses to use the “big kid swings” — not out of fear, though. When she sits in one, it squeezes her legs and hips painfully. Until this changes — and since I attribute this to the caudal regression, I have no way of knowing whether it will or not — she continues to use the little kid swings.

When it was time to leave, Namine told me that since she wheeled herself there, she would wheel herself all the way home. And she did — the entire way, with not a bit of help from me, even up the large hill in the parking lot back at our apartment.

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As we walked, we talked about many things. She commented on how she likes walking by the house with the stone lion statues. She told me again how much she just loves to swing. The times we did stop was so she could climb out and pick up a pinecone and a dandelion for Jessica. (She wasn’t wearing shoes or socks, so I moved her from her wheelchair to the ground and vice-versa.)

By the time we got home, Namine had wheeled herself for nearly two miles and she was still rambunctious. I don’t doubt for a minute that she can do the walk by herself in September.

And Namine asked for the strangest thing for dinner — spinach leaves and hummus. I can’t even.

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  • Fresh air, exercise, and healthy food. Great combination.