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My pint-sized peep squeak knows a thing or two about determination. She’s never known the bitter disappointment of defeat, and while my deepest hope is that she never know defeat by its name, I realize the umbrella of our protection will never be wide enough to shelter her.

All summer Maya has trained in preparation for her competition season. She’s been swept up by the gymnastics olympics hype, and has thrown herself completely into her training. A month ago, her coach told the team that he’d give the girls a month to prove they were worthy of a big-girl locker. In order to be considered for this honor, they had to train diligently, be responsible, and show progress.

She’s taken his instructions to heart, and has worked very hard, both at the gym and at home, to rise to his expectations. Today, Maya was awarded the highly coveted locker. She learned that merely wishing for something to fall into your lap, doesn’t make it so. She learned that determination and steady work, at some point, will result in the desired reward. But more significantly, she learned that one must continue to work hard to maintain that reward. For, as she said to me this evening, “I have to keep showing him I deserve the locker because if I don’t, he might take the locker away.”

Some say children are a reflection of their environment. I gather there is some truth in that thought. But, I can honestly say some kids are pre-wired with a certain streak, a certain independence, a certain unshakeable determination that is coded in their dna and is as arbitrary and true to their nature as the color of their eyes. It fills us with awe, but at times, her stubborn determination can enrage us.

Determination: she has it, and I am glad for it.

I’ve only now, at 40, become acquainted with it.