This post is definitely a “Throwback Thursday.” I wrote a column, called “Sanity Check,” for ten years–a humor and lifestyle column about kids, parenting, and life in general. It ran every Monday in my hometown newspaper.

I thought it might be fun to occasionally share some of these columns with you. I was a bit stunned to realize that this one was published TEN years ago! A year or so after it was published, the daughter it describes was leading a group of kids at a rowing camp on a river, upstream from a dam. Their boat got caught in a cross current, pulling them toward the dam. There is no doubt they would have all drowned if they’d gone over the dam. Our daughter directed them on what to do and maneuvered them to a rescue boat, and though shaken, they were all fine.

I’ll never forget that when she got home, she casually shared this story with us over dinner. She was so calm and collected! (And her rowing coach later verified the event.)

So I think about that now, when I get a little nervous about her profession in the Air Force, just as I think about how our younger daughter–a teaching naturalist–was always so drawn to the outdoors. Isn’t it fascinating how the seeds for who we are meant to be seem to be within us from the beginning?

In any case, here’s my Throwback Thursday column. I hope you enjoy it!


“But weren’t you nervous, watching her race?” my friend asked, incredulously.

I was a little taken aback by my friend’s question, a result of my description of watching my oldest daughter’s first rowing competition.

A little background: my daughter became interested in rowing a few summers ago. Last summer, she went to a week long rowing camp with the Greater Dayton Rowing Association. She enjoyed that experience enough to spend this past winter conditioning for rowing, and then to participate in the junior crew’s spring season.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, and my description of my daughter’s first regatta experience… also my first experience of actually seeing her in a row boat.

I told my friend about how surprisingly beautiful a regatta is to watch. How surprisingly passionate my daughter is about rowing. How much joy I felt in watching her row because she’s so joyful about it; how natural she looked during the race; how peaceful she looked while rowing with her teammates after the race back to the dock.

Since my focus was on sentiments such as “peace” and “joy” and “passion,” my friend’s question about my own fear in watching the regatta threw me for a second.

After all, in describing the overall event, I’d also talked about the safety-consciousness of my daughter’s coaches, who emphasize proper techniques and water safety. And I’d mentioned that, in fact, I’d observed how safety-conscious the rowing community in general seems to be. (Medic boats, for example, are always out on the water during practices and events.)

So why that question about my being fearful? Why, there wasn’t any reason at all to be fearful! And then it hit me…

I suddenly recalled how reluctant I’d been to look into rowing opportunities for my daughter, finding any excuse possible to put it off, even though my daughter kept asking about rowing. I’d confided my reluctance to this same friend. Plus, I’d confided how fearful I personally am around water and how I’ve struggled to keep knowledge of that fear from my daughters, because I don’t want to impose my fears on them. I’d told my friend that, even so, I really didn’t like the idea of my daughter doing a water sport.

Even a water sport that’s in a boat. With other people in the boat. And floatable oars. And medic boats nearby.

No wonder, after all my fearful whining months ago, that a few weeks ago my friend asked if I’d been fearful watching my daughter row, because I’d predicted that that’s exactly how I’d feel.

And yet… the very first time I watched my daughter in a regatta, I literally forgot to be afraid for her. My lack of fear had nothing to do with the safety precautions of the coaches and volunteers (as much as I appreciate those precautions), and everything to do with how happy and peaceful and right my daughter seemed in that boat as she rowed by with her teammates.

So… back to the question my friend asked: “Weren’t you nervous, watching her race?”

I smiled and finally answered: “No. Not in the least.”

My daughter’s learning to row, row, row a boat.

And the further I go, not-always-so-gently down the parenthood stream, the more I learn that you can’t choose who your kids are or what they’ll end up loving in life… but you can choose to love them for who and what they are.