By Gail Maholick

gmaholick@tnonline.com

I'm lucky to have several lovely little girls in my life. Two are little girls I've recently met, while the third, Caroline is my granddaughter. She really doesn't have a choice spending time with me, as she is the daughter of my daughter.

The other two, Emma and Emily, are my chosen friends.

When I see them, I know I'm in for a fierce hug and I think to myself, how lucky I am to have all these little girls in my life.

My friendship with them shows that age knows no boundary. I'm not quite sure why they want to be my friend, For me I delight in their energy, their youthful exuberance and innocent beauty. I also see their potential.

As far as age is concerned, I'm also happy to note that my oldest friend, Janet, is 75 and she has taught me so much. She has given me much insight into life. She has inspired me to be a better person and to let some things just slide off without notice.

Now it's my time to mentor these three little girls.

With Caroline, its so easy. She is so much like me that I know what she likes before she does. After all she is a mini me. She and I share a blood bond that brings me joy. While she has the blue eyes so like my mother's, she otherwise looks just like me. In fact her new haircut is so like the one I had in first grade that looking at her is more like looking at myself.

Moments after she was born, I thought to myself: this baby looks familiar and that she looked like someone I knew. Oh yeah, I was looking at myself. It delightfully jolted me, as tired as I was waiting all day for her to be born. I felt a bond.

I delight in her words of love and kisses. Aren't 3 year olds such fun? I know that it likely won't last. That soon enough she will move on to having little friends her own age and I will be left with moments instead of hours.

The other two girls are Stephanie and Jennifer's lovely daughters and I'm honored that we have developed a special bond that has nothing to do with blood, but more to do with friendship.

With Emily, I will be watching her grow into a fine athlete. At 6, she is this blond beauty who has a rare athletic ability that is already evident in the way she moves. Her drive to be first will make her an awesome competitor.

Her dad informed me that it's my fault she is signed up for beginning field hockey after I made a remark that she would be perfect for the sport. I know that if her interest continues in this sport, she will be someone to watch as she grows up. It will be her in a few years who will be the sports star to watch.

Her slim, muscular body doesn't have any fat. She seldom stops moving and her fierce drive to be first will make her a formidable opponent.

Emily is another story. At 8, she is a budding artist. She seems to always have a crayon or marker in her hand. She penned and drew a card for me, letting me know that I am her special friend. I have enjoyed watching this lovely red-haired girl grow from a toddler into someone who has poise and confidence. I knew then that we will remain friends for a long time.

By keeping open options to friendship, I hope that we will enhance each other's world, me by offering wisdom; well at my age, there should be something I know that they don't. They will enhance my world with their youthful enthusiasm and energy.

What more could anyone ask for?