With a twist and a twirl, a daughter grows up

The elegant young woman is garbed in a backless black silk gown. In reminiscence of Audrey Hepburn, her hairstyle is a classic French twist. She is the epitome of perfect petite posture.

Her name is Julie. She is poised, a party animal springing forth to celebrate her birthday in the grand style of a dinner-dance with family and friends. Her father looks at her with love, with pride, with disbelief.

"Thirteen-year-old girls don't look like that," he whispers to a friend.

"Yes, they do," she replies.

He winces in response, knowing it to be all too true, all too soon.

Learning the intricacies of growing up has never been easy for any teen. It never will be. Facing the realities of a daughter growing up has never been easy for any dad. It never will be.

Dear dad looks at his youngest daughter through the blurry vision of tearful sentiment and sees a woman/child. His sight is blurred as well by the confusion of memories – of magical times so long ago. Or was it just moments past?

Julie walks toward him. He asks, hoping for insight into the meanderings of the teenage mind, "How do you feel?" She will, he silently assures himself, reveal an important clue about the state of her psyche.

"I feel taller, much taller. I'm wearing four-inch heels," she says before whirling away into a crowd of friends.

Dad is disappointed. He wants a glimpse of her heart and soul, and instead Julie has provided a fashion report.

Julie, the woman/child disappears, surrounded by giggling friends.

Julie the child appears in her father's mind's eye as a 4-year-old in a pink ballerina tutu, laughing at the idea of trick-or-treating for Halloween candy. A split second later, she's cozily tucked into a parka, winging snow angels in the backyard.

Another second passes, and she's a pony-tailed moppet, dreaming of winning Wimbledon, grasping a tennis racquet that's almost as big as she is.

Julie reappears, a woman/child needing her father. She speaks softly to him, through her tears, about a friend who is missed at tonight's party. Her father understands, as only he can, and comforts her, as only he can.

He remembers comforting her through the bumps and bruises of her childhood, and takes comfort in his perpetual ability to provide fatherly solace.

They dance. Their movements are those of a loving daughter and father. Their steps and turns move them forward, backward, and in circles, replicating real life.

The song lyrics are a perfect metaphor: "Life's a dance. We learn as we grow. Sometimes we lead. Sometimes we follow."

The music stops. The rhythms of growing up dance on.

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