07 March 2008

Train Them Right

My oldest daughter is a constant source of amusement and pride.

I'm amused by her because she will claim that she has no talent at all. Her brother is a pretty good mechanic, her sister is artistically gifted, but she can't do anything, so she says.

The reality is a bit different, of course. She is a talented mother, problem solver and all around good example, among other things.

It is necessary to know the choices she has made (choices that I would have not made for her), the predictable results, and the way she chose to deal with them.

First of all, I am a relative latecomer in her life, and when I showed up she made it quite clear she had no use for me and couldn't understand why her mother did. I was required to prove myself to her, primarily I was required to show that I was here for the long haul and wouldn't bail when things got tough.

I'm happy to say I passed her tests.

She left the house at a young age, before finishing school, to marry a man that was supposed to take care of her. She got a couple of kids that she couldn't afford out of the bargain, and that's about it.

Instead of becoming a welfare queen, she realized where she went wrong and set about correcting her deficiencies. Step one was admitting to me that she was wrong and I was right.

"Say that again?" I said, "Speak clearly and into the mike."

"Don't push your luck, old man" she replied. Spunk she has, in truckloads. Which is one of the reasons I admire her.

She moved back in, got her GED, and moved back out. She enrolled in college, applying for the financial aid on her own. She worked two jobs, paid the bills, cared for her children, and went to college full-time without government assistance.

"Why not," her mom wanted to know. "Because Dad wouldn't take it" she replied.

She worked at a convenience store and has been robbed four times. The last time she is clearly shown on the video fighting with her attacker, trying to take the gun away from him. Perhaps not a wise thing to do, but she had decided she had enough. It surprised him so much that when he got away from her he immediately left.

"You could have been killed" I pointed out. "I know, but I just didn't think about it at the time. He made me mad" she answered.

She has since reconciled with her hubby, making sure he had learned the valuable lesson that she didn't need him and would toss him out unless he shaped up. Which he has. He has admitted that she is an inspiration to him, and that she made him want to be worthy of her.

Of course I told him that in my eyes he never would be. He has a daughter. He understands.

She has also started her own house cleaning business and will be graduating sometime next year, if all goes well. She will hopefully be able to find gainful employment in her chosen field when she is done.

There have been times when she has gotten down and just wanted to quit, but her pride wouldn't let her. She knows that nothing is free, and she does what she has to in order to reach the goals she has set for herself.

She is an inspiration to me as well, and I am humbled when she says she gets it from me.

This is one of the reasons I am constantly annoyed by the whiners that say you can't make it in America these days. You can make it, but you have to put some effort into it. The results are directly proportional to the effort.

I am not "lucky" that I have a job that pays well with good benefits. I sacrificed and did what I had to in order to gain the skills that make me employable. Nothing I did is beyond anyone else.

I pity the poor fool that calls her "lucky" when she is able to get a good paying job with benefits in her chosen field. What she lacks in articulation she makes up for in pure energy, and her chosen path has been considerably harder than mine.

If you want to be successful, the first step is to get up off your ass.

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