"I'm so excited!!!" she squeals, as her pink hairbow is clipped in front of her tiny, curly blond ponytail, with wisps of baby hair framing her delicate features while the faintest speck of a freckle kisses her right cheek.
She's already dressed in her Capezio ballet shoes and tights and pale pink leotard, the one with the attached tulle tutu.
The world stops around us as I stare at my little girl. My only daughter, this slender yet strong beauty, who prances when she runs and, often, tip toes when she walks. I take a mental snapshot of this moment. Of me, her momma, standing behind my precious girl as she gazes at her reflection, giddy over the ballerina that stares back in return.
I soak it all in, this moment, this child, this experience, this life.
And then, she floats through the house in search of her daddy to show off her "ballerina dress." He can't help but scoop her up and kiss her soft, smooth cheeks over and over, as he gazes at her with pride. He has told me again and again how happy he is to have but one daughter: He just can't imagine loving another little girl as much as he does our one and only.
I memorize the feeling of her hand in mine as we walk through the house and out to the car, ready to attend, what will undoubtedly be, her first of many dance classes.
We pull up to the dance studio, and I can see that she is getting nervous. She casts down her gaze and tightens her grip around my hand as we walk inside and meet her teachers. Her eyes start to well with tears, but she pushes them back as I reassure her that I'll be there the entire time. That my eyes won't leave her for a moment. That I'll watch her every move from the window outside the classroom. She feels braver now and follows her teachers through the door into the brightly lit studio, standing alongside other nervous but excited ballerinas.
The class goes by quickly. She wears the rhinestone-encrusted crown she is given for the duration of the class, gently re-adjusting it as she dances and twirls and tiptoes and leaps, shyly at first but more confidently by the end.
As the door swings open, she is first in line to run out, and her face lights up when she sees me, proudly showing the treat she's been given, smiling sweetly as she talks about her first dance class.
The morning, the conversations, the images, the emotions, the experiences. None things I will ever forget.
My tiny dancer. My dream come true.