They say you never really appreciate your parents until you grow up. I knew I’d always valued them, but I have come to the conclusion that one cannot be fully grateful for everything your parents did until you become a parent yourself. My father worked every day but Sundays. He owned a painting business and had a clientele mostly for residential houses, both interior and exterior. He also did large projects, like painting the First Baptist Church of Dallas. He and my mother made sacrifices so that she could stay home with me. Looking back though I notice we had an abundance of books — my mother’s on classical art and music, my father’s on politics and history, and mine which contained Newbery and Caldecott Medal award-winning children’s books. We took advantage of free outdoor concerts in the summer like the symphony and Shakespeare in the park, we utilized our local library, and tried to make museum days when they were free. We also watched cool nature documentaries on TV. I particularly loved watching, “The Wonderful World of Disney” on Sunday evenings with my parents. Looking back I see how well they educated me on their own outside of the schoolroom. They instilled in me a love of learning and thirst for knowledge which continues to this day. I remember it was very important to my father that I learn phonetics. He was never very good with them and wanted me to be better. I do not know why, over the years, I have managed to tell myself I was naturally gifted with languages and spelling. As I have recently been working with my kindergartener over her 72 “sight words” I have been transported back into the long-forgotten days of whining, writhing, and wailing. To my horror I realized what my little one is doing to me is the same thing I did to my mother as she thanklessly and tirelessly worked with me on my flashcards. Now the cards are in my hands. I must do for my daughter what my mother did for me. When my little one proclaimed it was too hard I told her that for most people learning isn’t something automatically acquired; it requires persistence and hard work. Sometimes it is fun and sometimes it is unbridled Hell. Peering through the veils of time, I remember my parents helping me study to make it to the regional Spelling Bee after I became my elementary school champion. That didn’t just happen; I remember them working with me and checking the words as I got them right. I have noticed with each small victory my little one becomes less “agonized” and, therefore, so do I. The retired American four-star army general Colin Powell said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” Just as my parents wanted for me, my husband and I want for our child to successful, in whatever form that may take. One day I wonder if my little one will recall these early days of learning and have the same revelation about me that I did about my mother. If or when she does, she’ll know it in a flash.