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Meredith Leigh Knight Columnist

Published Friday, December 14, 2012

My determined daughter

My daughter has a knack for winning things.

She came home today from school and announced she’d won $50 for her “No texting and driving” poster and that she’d found a 1942 quarter worth about $5, an item her coin-collecting father had been looking for. My first reaction was to say “Lucky!”

But, I know better. It’s not luck.

She had spent her entire afternoon first researching the dangers of texting and driving and then incorporating them creatively into a poster that was shaped as a cell phone. I swept up the glitter after she finished applying the perfect amount and tried to decipher what “w8” stood for (It’s “wait,” by the way). She’d work hard on it, and it’s not the first time I’ve seen her do so.

I’ve watched her draw the same thing over and over until she perfects it (we have thousand of eagle pictures around the house). I’ve heard her play the same note on her clarinet until she’s satisfied. I watched her bump a volleyball until her arms were bruised. I’ve given her topics, so she can write mock essays. I’ve seen her unravel yarn, so she can begin her knitting again.

No, what she possesses is not luck. It’s something far better and that is determination.

I’d love to say she got it from me, and maybe she does. After all, my dad has repeatedly called me “stubborn” through the years. My stubbornness only carried me so far, however, especially when it came to the pool.

You see, after she brought her quarter home, I remembered that I had a few coins in my childhood scrapbook, so I pulled it out and removed the neatly taped dirty coins, all ready to impress my children with them. As they were oohing and aahing over their father’s collection, I held the coin and read the back. It was just an ordinary quarter. Same for the pennies.

It was then that it dawned on me that I had probably found them on the street, asked my mom (who was probably in the middle something) if it were valuable, to which she probably replied, “Uh huh,” and at which time, I probably taped my prized possessions into the book along with my other awards.

Turns out, these awards consisted of second place balloon toss -- and I’m not trying to brag here -- but three years of third place back-to-back awards from summer camp. When you got it, you got it. Or either my partner did.

Also, in that scrapbook was year after year of swim certificates from the same camp.

“Advanced beginner?” my husband asked, holding up the highest rank I achieved.

Suddenly, my memories came flooding back.

“Yes, and I got moved back to beginner the next year,” I said. “I took swim lessons for nine years, and I grew up going to the pool and the lake. I remember I was so mad because I never made it to the intermediate level.”

I blame it on the chlorine. It was very strong and stung my eyes. To this day, I still don’t like to get my face wet. I’ll tube, water ski and boat all day, but I don’t really like to swim. I went so far as to even use a bright orange life preserver when my husband and I went snorkeling on our honeymoon. And, it’s not because I don’t know how. I had to pass a swim test to graduate from West Georgia College back in the day.

I guess I just didn’t have the determination and drive or perhaps the goggles needed to go the distance. I’m glad my daughter does. I can’t wait to see where it takes her.

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