What’s so special about today?

Today is Monday, July 15th, 2013.

Our first born child, a little girl we named Elizabeth Ann, was born on Tuesday, July 15th, 1997.

Maybe you’re not a math person… and that’s ok. Not everyone is, so I’ll do it for you (eventually).

Caveat: my knowing has nothing to do with math and everything to do with said little girl (who’s not so little anymore) asking the following question every 1.25 hours for the last 6.5 months: “Can you believe I’m going to be sixteen years old this year?!?”

Not that I’ve been counting.

You may recall my tale of the head of child psychiatrics at the local children’s hospital diagnosing Beth with Aspergers (or high functioning autism), after a somewhat difficult childhood. You may recall the years of various diagnoses and treatments leading up to it. You may recall the birth defect which led to surgery to remove it and a damaged kidney that it caused.

This is not to say Beth’s childhood was worse than many others’. But it’s hard to consider yourself lucky when your child is suffering.

I’m happy to say Beth is a smart, confident, and independent thinking sixteen year old young adult today.

She may never know the depth of my pride, though not for a lack of trying. Some things are hard to express. Some things are hard to understand until you’ve stood in their shoes.

Happy Birthday kid!



Beth, pride, and The Gators

My daughter has been been accepted by the University of Florida.

I am bursting with pride. As Yoda might say, “A proud father I am.”

I admit it’s a touch misleading though. Beth is just finishing ninth grade. She is not graduating early and she is not enrolling with the freshman class at UF next fall. She will be dual-enrolled in college courses next year, but they won’t be at UF (130 miles away). However, she will be one of forty or so kids living on campus for a week this summer to explore scientific areas of study, meet the professors who teach them, and see the research they do when they’re not teaching.

I think the concept of the program is fantastic. I think a lot more kids should have the same opportunity, but I also understand the desire to bring in kids who really want to be there and will get the most out of the experience. I think there’s a way to balance larger enrollment with high enthusiasm, but this isn’t a post about the responsibilities of our public institutions of higher learning – or where we place those institutions on our list of state priorities.

Good thing too – my temper has been running thin lately.

Although I thought Beth’s essay was pretty good (I couldn’t resist a few suggestions to make it better), her grades are perfect, and her letters of recommendation were glowing, I always assumed she wouldn’t get in. I think she’s a capable, confident, smart, and strong young woman who can and will do many things. But Florida is large and forty is small.

Maybe it’s a relatively small thing, but I feel like we won the World Series. I feel like looking up those teachers who treated her no better than the students who bullied her and telling them, “Look at my daughter and see what she has done. Now know this: she has done it in spite of you.”

Where once there was gloom, she is a bright, shining star.