My youngest granddaughter, Jessica, just turned 12 years old. The years since we welcomed her into our hearts have literally flow by. Some things have not changed; she is still a sweet little blonde-headed girl with big blue eyes and a million dollar smile.
Last night, watching Jessica perform beautifully at her dance recital, my mind wandered back to her first ever recital when she was three years old. The night before on the phone, I told Jessica I couldn’t wait to see her dance and she replied excitedly, “Ma, I’m so easy to find because I’ll be the one in red feathers!”
In reality, Jessica was one of eight little girls in red feathers, but she was indeed easy to find because even at three, my “Little Bit” knew every step of her dance routine. Her smiling face and big blue eyes never wavered from the audience. She loved every minute of it and couldn’t wait to do it again, and again, and again.
She loved the energy and excitement of dancing. Even at such an early age, Jessica had an intense concentration on learning new skills to make her a better dancer. Over the years, she was never discouraged that learning to do a new step, a cartwheel or the splits didn’t happen on the first try. She seemed to understand that practice makes perfect and had accepted the fact she would master the skills through hard work and commitment.
But, as her flexibility, agility and coordination increased so did her expressive, musical and motor skills. Over the years, Jessica has participated in activities such as cheerleading, softball and soccer, but keeps coming back to music and dance. Experts will tell you that dance can benefit a child’s capacity to pay attention, particularly in reading; and learn new information because it stimulates the brain’s visual, auditory and memory centers.
The experts must be right because Jessica is an honor student; filled with curiosity, loves to read and write. Several years ago, when putting together her Christmas list, Jessica asked for “an overhead projector!” Santa was able to find one and she used that projector to teach school, in her bedroom, until the bulb burned out. At 12-years of age, her career of choice is to become a teacher.
Thank goodness, she and her big sister, Jenna, have always enjoyed coming to Ma’s house. A corner of our family room was filled with lots of books, puzzles and toys that had belonged to their mom and their aunt Sherry. What fun we have had reading books, dancing and singing, working puzzles and playing pretend with the Fischer Price house, farm and schoolhouse; performing puppet shows for grandpa and laughing hysterically when he drifted off to sleep and did his famous snoring symphony. I hope they never outgrow the need for Ma (that’s me).
Whether Jess is defying gravity as she soars through the air at a dance completion or just sitting quietly reading her favorite book, turning 12 is a big milestone in her life. Within her grasp lies her future and the fulfillment of all her dreams, some of which she hasn’t even dreamed yet. She is a kind, caring person with a gift of making people laugh. I am so proud of the person she is at this stage of her life and will watch with love as she grows stronger and more confident in the years to come.
Ending on a Positive Note: I am so grateful for the love and joy that Jessica has brought into my life. I love her with all my heart and pray her future will be filled with many happy and joyful moments.