As a little girl my daughter was spontaneous and shared with us every emotion she was feeling. Her honesty would be, at times, a bit unnerving when she would let us know all her likes and dislikes. I would often remind her that we needed to choose words carefully when describing people because we might hurt their feelings. Even when what she was saying was true, it was sometimes best to keep comments to ourselves.

My daughter gave 100 percent of her time and energy to everything she did. When she swam, for example, she jumped in and out of the pool a dozen times and flipped and turned until she was exhausted. When she watched television, she would sit or stand right in front of the TV and the more into the movie she got, the closer she moved towards the television set. When she listened to music, it had to be loud and she would sing along with no concern as to how she sounded. Sometimes she closed her eyes and you could almost see the music running through her. She loved taking showers in our bathroom using my shower gel. I’d ask her to use it sparingly but she would pour it on. On one occasion I heard her coughing and opened the shower door to find a snowwoman standing before me. She was covered with bubbles from head to toe and when she giggled bubbles came out of her nose.

“Mami, you have to listen to my love,” she would say when I would send her to time-out. “Look at my eyes. I promise I will never misbehave. I promise I’ll never do it in a million years. I love you.” And then just before I would set the timer and ask her to sit in the chair she would exclaim, “You hurt my heart and all the feelings that are in this house.”

Bedtime was usually when she became the most dramatic. “Why are you doing this to me?” she’d ask, looking as though I was about to torture her. “I want to spend time with my family and you are making me go to bed.” Then, just before she reached the top of the stairs, she’d turn and say, “My heart is breaking into two pieces. Don’t you understand? No matter what happens, I have to be with you.”

In kindergarten she got in trouble for kissing the top of her friend’s head and for picking up and accidently dropping her best friend, Iris. That night I explained to her that she could kiss family members as often as she wanted but that she shouldn’t go around kissing people outside of the family, regardless of how much she liked them.

At night when I would tuck her in, she would be the most expressive and loving. She’d often say, “Mami, you are in my heart.”

“How did I get in there?” I asked her one night.

“I don’t know,” she answered, thinking very seriously about my question. “But you are all over it.”

My daughter’s enthusiasm has filled our life with joy and I am blessed that she has always shared her life with me. Sometimes, unintentionally, when we raise our children, we squash their beautiful spirit but, although my daughter is all grown up now, in her I still see glimpses of that sweet loving spirited girl and I pray that as she goes off into the world, she doesn’t let life take that from her.

Maria Luisa Salcines is a freelance writer, and certified parent educator with The International Network for Children and Families in Redirecting Children’s Behavior and Redirecting for a Cooperative Classroom. Follow her on Twitter @PowerOfFamily or contact her at her Web site at www.redirectingchildrenrgv.org.