Recently I’ve had to take a few state required classes for my business. The classes were on the evaluation process for birth to toddler age developmental milestones. Most of the class participants were college age girls, who have never been mothers.

Having personally experienced my children’s’ milestones, it was exciting to witness each child grow and develop on schedule.

In case you don’t know, babies go through major achievement stages, referred to as developmental milestones. Developmental milestones are easily identifiable skills that the baby can perform, such as rolling over, sitting up, and walking.

I believe the most wonderful developmental sign is when a baby first smiles. I’m not referring to the crooked, I have gas or I’m tired, reflex smile.

I’m speaking about a deliberate smile, when the baby first recognizes your face. This, to me is the most priceless communication between a newborn and their mom.

Added to that, the smile indicates other developmental signs.

First, you know their vision has improved.

Second, you know that she is able to connect to you.

Third, she is beginning to realize that her feelings matter, and have a direct effect on you. And fourth, she does it again and again.

Why wouldn’t she smile?

As a new mom, while trying to coax a smile out of my newborns, I would get very excited. My eyes would light up. I’d ooh and ahh. And my smile got as big as hers.

Perhaps you’d like to know why I am referring to a she, instead of a he?

Well, I have a new grandbaby, a beautiful little girl named Melanie. Melanie is number 16 for me.

My daughter Kortney, and her OSU ready-to-graduate endodontist hubby Chase, are the parents.

Yes, little Melanie has been smiling, expressing her pleasure, excitement, and happiness. I just know she is going to be as smart as her grandma.

Since it is Family Week, I have a question. Do we continue to smile at our children?

I do know when mine were teenagers, I rarely smiled because I was too busy correcting them.

In fact, had I smiled, they’d have wondered what happened, or “what’d I do?”

I have four children who live long distance, 600 to 1,200 miles away, with my 16 grandchildren. When they come to visit, I can hardly contain myself.

The first thing I do when I see the kids exit the plane or car is smile, and then hug.

Not one of the kids or grandkids asks, “what’d I do?”

As parents, I think we need to smile more.

Little Melanie’s smiles bring me such joy.

My own babies’ smiles made my heart sing.

My mom’s smiles melted my heart.

Try it parents, smile.

Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County’s Family Week Foundation. Email her at director@jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org or visit www.jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.