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March 6, 2012

Jim Bailey: Just one kid’s song can brighten many people’s day

ANDERSON, Ind. — Gracie, our 4-year-old youngest granddaughter, has a mind of her own. There isn’t much she’s afraid of. And now I’m beginning to suspect she takes after her Aunt Rachel.

Gracie’s mom, Ruth, was grocery shopping at Wal-Mart recently. Her daughter was in a good mood, Ruth posted on Facebook, and spent the entire shopping trip singing “Jesus Loves Me” loudly for all to hear.

“My initial reaction was to shush her,” Ruth admitted. “But I allowed it and smiled as she witnessed to everyone in the store with her singing voice. I left the crowded store with no frustrations, and I owe it all to my little girl and her happy-go-lucky singing.”

I imagine very few Wal-Mart shoppers that day were too upset over a little girl’s singing, unless it might have been a disgruntled atheist or two who didn’t want to hear the message that “Jesus Loves Me.”

That’s because I remember a similar episode a generation ago when daughter Rachel, then 3, belted out the same song, I think in Pay Less, to an enthusiastic response by most of the other shoppers.

Rachel admits she doesn’t remember doing that; after all, memories only stretch back so far. But her family has never let her forget it. Among her prized possessions is a preserved copy her grandma made into a plaque of the account of her song published in a devotional booklet.

And something tells me Gracie will be reminded of her similar enthusiasm through her mother’s collection of memorabilia that I would guess will include a copy of this column.

“We talked about engaging others during church,” Ruth posted, “and I was proud to think of how easy this is for my kids and wonder why I make it so difficult?”

It’s because kids’ inhibitions have to develop over time as they learn to read the reactions of their peers. For now all they know is the songs and messages they learn in Sunday school and preschool and find catchy enough to vocalize on their own.

As I said, Gracie has a mind of her own. Right now she’s into cheerleading in a big way. She’s been to cheerleading camps in Greenfield where the kids learn the cheers used at the school sporting events. And twice the cheer campers performed at basketball games in Greenfield the same night. Many of the cheerleading campers were older, but she stomped and yelled and gyrated with the best of them.

Then she went home and taught her stuffed hippo, Shiver, all the moves she learned at camp that day.

Grandparents, of course, take pride in their grandkids’ accomplishments. Such as Ronnie’s baseball exploits. And Cameron’s amazing construction feats with Lego blocks. And LeeAnn’s swimming competition. And Gracie’s exploits in learning to be a cheerleader.

But probably none surpass a 4-year-old’s rendition of “Jesus Loves Me” while riding in a shopping cart.

Jim Bailey’s column appears on Wednesday. He can be reached by email at jameshenrybailey@earth

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