When I was nine, I was identified as gifted, but my undiagnosed ADD made it hard for me to keep up with the faster pace. So I decided to give up, because you cannot fail when you do not try. (But you can fail your classes.)
So my mom met with my teachers. She had the brilliant idea of having me do my math on graph paper (bringing order to my distractable brain). She also got permission for me to miss school to go to sci-fi conventions, because roaming around in a hotel in a Star Trek jumpsuit, watching anime and old movies all day with a bunch of other nerds, was awesome. Then Mom said that if I failed to turn in just one homework assignment, I would stay at my grandma’s instead (and while I loved my grandma, she did not know about warp drive or wormholes). Back then, I did not know that “leverage” had more than just a scientific meaning, but I did know that mom meant what she said. There was no wiggle room. I tried a couple of times to ask, “But what if I forget just one? What if I lose a paper or it falls out of my backpack?” Mom wasn’t having it. So I started getting organized. I started doing my homework. I stopped failing, and I got to spend several fun weekends roaming around a hotel in a jumpsuit, relishing in the puzzled looks of the “mundanes.”
Stephanie sometimes wonders why (and how) I get up early to write, then go to work, then squeeze out a bit more effort in the evening, making sure the kids “don’t pull any of that nonsense.” It’s your fault, Linda Dunn.
I saw you work and go to school and keep after us, without a lot of help. You started all of this. When I defended my dissertation, you told me you were proud of me, but there would be none of this without you refusing to let me quit so many years ago. Any accomplishment, I owe to you.