By Ron Knecht – 22July2019

Our daughter Karyn turns 18 this week.

The two greatest days of my life were when I married Kathy and when, three years later, Karyn was born.  I was awestruck as the doctor handed me the dark-haired little angelic bundle.

In a few weeks, her hair fell out – not uncommon for newborns – and we called her “Little Baldy.”  Her new hair was ash blond, lighter even than Kathy’s.  It waxed golden brown over the years and now reaches her waist.

Like many fathers, I had visions of what she would become.  She’d be a great athlete, a fine engineer, economist and lawyer, and a Renaissance polymath.  Things her daddy aspired to.

But she has little interest in athletics and only somewhat more in engineering, economics and law.  Nonetheless, she’s become an energetic, bright, creative and engaging young lady with a wide range of interests and skills.  A glib tongue and wicked sense of humor.

Her vivaciousness wasn’t certain from the start.  In preschool, she seemed like a closed up little flower in the corner.  When she turned five, we had her tested at a private school.  They said she wasn’t yet ready for kindergarten.

So, we took her to the local public schools.  I foolishly spilled the opinion of the private school, and the district assigned her to a developmental program, where she was the tallest and least in need of special help, as Kathy noted in helping with the class.

There, she and a classmate bonded to the great benefit of both.  At year’s end, we went to conference with the staff, expecting her to be promoted to regular first grade because she had done so well.  Instead, we got the A word: autistic spectrum disorder.  She would not be promoted to regular first grade.

We left with Kathy crying and me profoundly upset, believing the funding the school would get for an ASD student had influenced the decision.  Watching a developmental first grade class convinced us that putting her there would be a sentence, not a help.

Finally, Daddy had a non-linear thought: Let’s go back to the private school and see if they would take her in their regular kindergarten class after her year of growth.  In about 30 seconds of interviewing, they declared they’d love to have her in their next class.

I was surprised they gave letter grades in kindergarten, and based on experience, I had adjusted my expectations as I opened her first report card.  I was shocked with delight: straight A’s!!

Later, at her request, we put her in online home school, which has been even more academically challenging and satisfying for all of us.  Her junior year chemistry class this year was broader, deeper and more rigorous than the chemistry majors’ class I took as a college sophomore.

She’s worked harder and been more successful than I allowed myself to hope, with nine A’s for every B.  She truly is the best-behaved and most mature kid I’ve ever known.  For example, after being accepted by a modelling and talent agency, Karyn was selected for their team at the annual International Modelling and Talent Show last January.  Despite our encouragement, she declined that opportunity to study and keep up her grades to get into the university of her choice.

She wants to be a director and film-maker, and she loves all behind-the-camera aspects of the art.  She scripts, films, edits and posts her own videos on YouTube and photos on Instagram.  She creates her own sets and props, and even has a green screen and sophisticated lighting and camera equipment in her room.  And she very well understands the marketing aspects of the business, while maintaining a realistic understanding of the challenges she faces.

Daddy’s the luckiest boy ever, having the perfect wife and the “Awesome Daughter.”

Five years ago, Karyn fell in love with American Girl dolls and now has a great collection of them and accessories.  She takes great care of them and uses them in her videos and photos.  So, for her birthday this year, we took her to the annual AG warehouse sale in Wisconsin that benefits a children’s museum.

Happy birthday, Karyn, with all our love forever.

Ron Knecht has served Nevada as state controller, a higher education regent, college teacher, legislator and economist.  Contact him at RonKnecht@aol.com.

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