There have been many times that I have been proud as a parent.
I was proud of all the Student of the Week certificates, the Honor Roll listings, her Young Authors award, her ONE goal in basketball.
I was proud of the way she walked into the hospital that awful day for her spinal fusion, seeming to have no fear. And I was proud of the way she handled the pain after. She was pretty damn brave through all of it.
I was incredibly proud the day she and her high school choir performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City and nearly burst at the seams when she was chosen for a small ensemble.
I was proud of every college envelope and packet that was pushed through our mail slot -- and there were dozens of them. But I was really proud of the ones that said she had been accepted and that they were giving her scholarships to attend -- especially the one from Loyola University in New Orleans (my alma mater).
But I was still proud the day she made up her mind and put the sign in the front yard letting the world know that she would be a Northwestern State Demon to study music.
Since that day in 2019 there have been more moments for me as a proud parent and stepparent..-- Dean's List, President's List. More choir performances.
Then there was the day she called to let me know that she was changing her major -- to Journalism.
Never in her nearly 20 years had she ever even hinted that she might be interested in a career as a journalist. We thought she'd be a singer for a while. Then she wanted to produce music. But she never wanted to be a reporter. Certainly not a sports reporter.
Oh, she had been to more "Take Your Daughter to Work" days that she could ever count thanks to my 30-plus years as a sportswriter. Mostly she would play on the computer in my old office, or ask to borrow my laptop while I finished up a story. She went to her first baseball game at two weeks old, but she couldn't tell you what an infielder is, nor an outfielder. And she has no idea what 6-4-3 means.
There was that one time we went to the local Biz Town, a simulated town at a local college where elementary students get to experience working and get "paid" for a day's work. Of course she chose to be a reporter for the town's newspaper -- like her mom.
But I'll tell you this: The girl can write.
One of the first stories she wrote won a Young Author's prize. I read it after the fact. It was a gripping tale about a young girl hiding from monsters or aliens or something under a bed while she begged for help into a telephone.
"Where did you get this?" I asked her, incredulous.
"I wrote it," she replied.
"But where did you get the idea?" I demanded. "How did you come up with this?
"It was in my head," she said.
Yes. Yes, I was pretty much accusing my child of plagiarism. But no. She wrote it. And she won an award for it.
Over the years she would occasionally ask me to read a paper or an essay for school. Rarely, if ever, did I have to edit a thing.
The girl could write.
When I was working for our local paper my then-editor asked if she would like to write an op-ed about scoliosis awareness. She did and it was wonderful. I was proud (there's that word again) to see her first byline in the newspaper I worked for. That article led to an email from a magazine publisher who asked her if she would like to run a longer piece about scoliosis. She did that one too.
And the girl could write.
Her college essay brought me to tears -- and not just because it was about her dad and me and about how she had been adopted at birth and how that affected her life. It was moving, but it also was just beautifully written.
So I'm guessing you can imagine what I felt the day she called me and said she was joining her college newspaper as a reporter.
Then she became a section editor.
Then a copy editor.
And, this spring, she was named the Editor in Chief for next school year.
There aren't enough synonyms for "proud" in the entire world.
And then today, she headed off to my old paper (in my borrowed blazer) for her first day as a summer intern.
I also have two AMAZING stepchildren who make me proud. My stepson was a stellar high school athlete and now is a high school football coach (following in his dad's footsteps as a coach) and a great dad to two little girls. My stepdaughter is a strong, vibrant, smart, independent woman who worked at Disney, kicked ass in sales at a couple of local hotels, and now is the director of on-campus recruiting at Tulane.
But there's nothing quite like your child following in your footsteps, walking your path, dreaming your dreams.
It makes me very proud.
And also a little worried.
The world is a tough place for journalists today. People don't respect us the way they used to. Some people outright hate us for just doing our jobs. I got my fair share of harassment back in the day, but not like it is now. And while women have made great strides, especially in sports journalism, jobs are difficult to find. And difficult to keep. Just look at her mom.
But I know this: The girl is a fighter. And the girl can write.
And whatever she does, I'm proud to be her mom.