My daughter knew that’s what she wanted to do at 3 1/2 years old. The “that” was to play the same crazy instrument that Itzhack Perlman was playing on Sesame Street. And she didn’t let us forget it until we finally found Betty Ritter to give her violin lessons.

Fast forward a bunch of years — and a bunch of money — and she graduated with a master's degree in viola performance from The Juilliard School in New York city. Her final concert at the school was with Itzhack Perlman as the soloist. Wow.

Anne McClain first told her parents that she wanted to be an astronaut when she was 3. Anne recently returned to earth after orbiting the earth 3,265 times and traveling more than 86 million miles with her crew aboard the International Space Station. She said in a recent interview, “ ... I tell kids to listen to that voice inside of you that wants to do something so bad even if you can’t put it into words.”

So the formula in its simplest form is: 3 years old + listening = dream. Right?

In reality, the equation is more like: 3 years old + listening family + resources to pursue + dedication to the task or tasks + overcoming roadblocks + perhaps a lucky break or two = fruition of the dream.

Now I’m not saying that this process can start only at 3. Plenty of people start at 18, 21 or even 50 years old. But I have seen plenty of examples of 3 and 4 year olds that “know” at that age what is going to be their jam. So, parents and grandparents “pay attention much earlier than you think you should.” Tune in early, and give those little ones access to try things. (Safely, of course.)

Here at Garden Terrace Senior Living, we have quite a number of grandparents, even great-grandparents, who have their little ones come visit us in our building from time to time. And, we have a preschool across the street that visits to trick-or-treat, or make valentines for residents, or sing Christmas carols to us.

These are kids whose dreams may be taking shape right now, so we should be sure we are listening and watching for them to emerge. I’m a grandfather of two precious little girls, and some of my best Senior Moments are when I’m totally immersed in their dream worlds with them. Hey, where did the gravity go and is that a violin I hear?

Kenneth E. Neher is executive director of the Garden Terrace senior living community, for whom he writes “Senior Moments.” These columns periodically appear in The Wenatchee World.