The car renovation took months. During that time, Kayte became more and more proficient at mechanics. But, true to form for a sixteen year old girl, she had to learn a way to balance beauty and the grease her mechanical work left under her fingernails: navy blue nail polish!
Like beauty, another sixteen-year-old-girl concern emerged: boyfriends. . . and boy friends. Both stopped by to see how work on the car was progressing. In truth, by then, Kayte knew more about cars than most of them did. Some tried to impress her but made themselves look foolish. Some were in awe of her. Some sat nearby and chatted while she worked. Her dad often read aloud from the repair manual from a convenient folding chair. A quiet evolution was underway as Kayte set aside gender stereotypes of what was “lady like” or what was “attractive.” Little did her dad or she suspect that she’d emerge from this project not only with a whole new set of competencies, but also with a whole new self-concept and self-confidence.
In their book, The Courage to Achieve: Why America’s Brightest Women Struggle to Fulfill Their Promise, Walker and Mehr establish the terrific importance of a girl’s father in helping her take on risk, stand proud of her own accomplishment, and validate her work-worthiness. With dad as her measuring stick, a daughter gauges the young men who come calling. Kayte’s father’s acceptance, encouragement, assistance and pride in her would be the hallmarks of the man Kayte chose for her life. Emblematic of her blossoming self-confidence was her nail polish. She was unwilling even for the sake of being pretty, to give up her new passion. Whoever loved her would have to take her for all she was becoming!