Namine is feeling much, much better today. Heck, that much is evident by her appetite alone. She was feeling well enough for the first time in quite a while to do some schoolwork.

I say “schoolwork” because that’s what we call it. But Namine loves learning, she loves reading (although she doesn’t like us knowing she can read) and writing, and she especially loves drawing and coloring. It’s work, true, but for the most part, it’s not work. You know? Jessica had her writing sentences today, and she did very well.

Speaking of doing well: Namine put her shoes on all by herself over the weekend. You might say, “Paul, it’s just shoes. She’s five years old, couldn’t she do that already?” No, she couldn’t. But thanks to therapy and good old determination (plus some nice, flexible soles), Namine was able to fit her feet into her shoes on her own.

There are plenty of parenting articles that say you shouldn’t praise your kids. The idea is that by telling your child “good job!” you are manipulating them. You are making them focus on the result – their good work, for which they should be lauded – and not the effort itself.

Well, I’m here to tell you that I praise my daughter’s hard work, because she earns it.

Namine has an uphill battle in nearly every aspect in her life. She has caudal regression, which affects her legs, feet, and spine. She has Pierre Robin Sequence, which affects her jaw, tongue, airway, and lungs. She has double inlet left ventricle heart defect, which of course affects her heart and the surrounding arteries. She knows the value of hard work; she knows the success of “a good job,” the grit of struggle and the elation of overcoming hardship.

When I tell my daughter “good job,” it’s not lip service. It’s not just something to say, something to make her smile. It’s the acknowledgement of – truly – a job well done.