What I Admire in My Daughter
By Rep. Kristi Noem
May 15, 2015
We’ve watched a lot of old family videos these last few weeks as we prepared for Kennedy to graduate. It’s been a special opportunity to see who she is – who she has always been. She never seemed to mind her older sister telling her what to do. She’d let other kids at her birthday parties open her presents and play with the gifts – even if she hadn’t had the chance to yet. We saw her helping her cousins up when they fell and faithfully answering the questions we asked with the sweetest lisp and a crooked smile.
I distinctly remember a day when Kennedy was five. I took her to a friend’s house in rural Raymond to look at a couple horses for her and her older sister Kassidy. Kass returned home that day with Dunny – and Kenners was left with Loosey. When we pushed Kennedy up on the horse’s back, her little legs barely hung over Loosey’s sides and even if Kennedy hung off the saddle horn, her feet were still a good two feet from the ground. But she didn’t seem to mind.
Kennedy gave Loosey a kick and a cluck, but Loosey just laid down. I ran over to pull Kennedy off Loosey’s back as she went down and I remember getting this cold feeling in my stomach. “Oh great,” I thought. “Now, I have a five-year-old problem horse for my five-year-old little girl.”
Kennedy didn’t hesitate though. She got right back on the horse, gave her another kick, and off they loped across the arena.
A few years later, Kennedy was riding the horse in a rodeo and a woman came up and asked, “Is that Loosey?” I said that it was and the woman proceeded to tell me that they had tried Loosey out too, but found her far too ornery. She spoke about several other families who also gave the horse a chance, but none of them worked out either. Then, she said, “Well, I guess Loosey found her girl.” She was right.
The strength and determination Kennedy displayed that first day with Loosey is the way I hope each of my kids approach the challenges they face in life. Brush yourself off and climb back on.
It’s an attitude we’ve seen reprise many times throughout Kennedy’s life – and something I greatly admire in her.
Kennedy’s athletic career has not been without its own challenges. Even after breaking her foot and knocking out her front teeth, she has been committed to pursuing her passion for basketball. Her biggest athletic challenge came last year when she fractured her back during a game. The break was bad enough that it required surgery, four days in the hospital, and several more weeks in a hospital bed in our living room. She was limited to months of no activity – a hard ask for a girl who rarely stops moving.
By the time her senior basketball season came around, the doctors had cleared her to play – so long as there was limited contact. I’d wondered if the doctors had ever watched a basketball game.
There were many times this season where Kennedy had to fight through the pain, but the doctors said she’d be alright so we let her push on. Then came one of the most exciting days of Kennedy’s high school career – the day she learned the University of Sioux Falls coach was saving a spot on the basketball team for her. That same patient determination that she had with Loosey all those years ago carried her through the back injury and onto a college team – just like she dreamed of. It makes a mom proud.
As we prepare for Kennedy to leave for college – and for us to be left alone with Loosey – I can’t help but find a deep love and appreciation for that horse. After all, it was Loosey who put Kennedy to the test and my little girl showed a level of determination that I’m confident can carry her through anything life throws at her.
Congratulations on your graduation, Kennedy. Dad and I are so proud of you.