Wednesday, June 5, 2013

She's five, reluctantly, on her birthday

We are in Brando, racing down the interstate, and my daughter says, “Mom, spell grass.”

“G-R-A-S-S,” I say.
Photo by KDW 2013

“Spell flower.”

“F-L-O-W-E-R,” I say.

“Spell cloud.”


“Spell iPod.”

It’s Hollie Bear’s birthday. That’s right, a full year since I wrote this.

I can’t believe it.

There’s a song Hollie and I think of as our song in which the lyrics say, “If you only knew how long I had waited for someone to come along and change my life the way you’ve done.”

We have worked the kid into our life, per my friend Tom’s instructions. She loves football and it’s all we do on Sundays in the fall. She loves Happy Hour and is always game for a stop in at the pub before we head home.

Still, despite our best efforts, she’s changed us. Charlie and I have never been empathetic; we were selfish and blind in so many ways. With her we are in a constant vigil over the impact of words, images, and tone of voice. We are kinder, more compassionate than we’ve ever been.

As she names things we try to identify what associations she’s making. As she asks questions we try to respond fully, honestly, and patiently.

“We need to stop for gas first,” I said, pulling Brando into the Shell station.

“Mom, what’s gas?” Hollie said. 

“It’s the liquid we put in cars to make them go.”

“And Brando needs some?”

At the Air Force monument in DC -- photo by KDW

“And then we’re going home?”


“To see Daddy?”

“Yes. First gas, then home.”

A few seconds pass.

“Mom, what’s gas?”

“Hollie, if you’re going to ask questions, please listen to the answers.”

She sings along with Kelly Clarkson and Colbie Callait. She sits still for a pedicure but won’t lay still for a nap at school. She can read all of her colors and numbers and knows her address, her family tree, and three-digit addition.

She has a little crush on Jack Frost (as do I) and thinks Moves Like Jagger is the greatest song in the universe (of course it is). Hollie uses smiles for everything and believes her stuffed elephant Guh-Gus, who is prone to unprovoked attacks, is the funniest friend she has.

She is a joyful kid and though like all kids she asks for things she can’t have (how about cupcakes?) and pouts when she doesn’t get them, she uses smiles to recover. She’ll say, “Mom, I changed my attitude,” to let me know she’s gotten over it. 

She is a smart kid and we play a funny game where she holds up an object and I wrongly identify it and she says, “How’d you know?” as if I’d gotten it right.
At the State Fair 2012 -- photo by KDW

HB (holding a pair of bangle bracelets in a figure 8): Mom, what’s this?

Me: A hippopotamus.

HB: How’d you know?

Me: Because I’m wicked smaht.

She’s been telling her teacher she’s wicked smaht for weeks and complained yesterday that her teacher and classmates keep saying, “Smart,” not “Smaht,” and that’s not how the phrase goes.

Hollie is a performer and her aunt Kristen and I recently made a big deal out of teaching her to “Ta-Dahhh!” like an Olympic gymnast (if said gymnast was drunk).

She immediately set about teaching Guh-Gus. That crazy elephant just can’t catch on and every time he does it wrong, Hollie howls with laughter.

Hollie doesn’t want to turn five. She has been promising us she’ll try food we introduce – vegetables, dinner rolls, grilled chicken, salmon – “when I’m five.” And with the big day looming she’s worried she’ll have to say goodbye to peanut butter and honey sandwiches.

She’s been told she’ll be going to big school and that her best friend Hailey won’t be going with her. So she’s dreading turning five and having to say goodbye to Hailey and preschool.

Saying goodbye is something we're both learning to do.
She is apparently sufficiently worried about turning five that my in-laws believe Charlie and I must have tortured her. They think we've made her scared of it, a la the boogeyman. But we haven’t. She’s come up with the “when I’m five” thing all on her own.

It reminds me of my sister promising me packs of gum if I would do things for her never thinking she’d have to actually pay that debt.

So this morning I’ll wake her and tell her happy birthday, congratulate her on being five, assure her she doesn’t have to eat salmon. Then I'll explain that we cannot change time but that we can count on the fact that time will change us.

What milestones have you experienced recently?


  1. Reading your blog this morning takes me back to the day Hollie Russ was born and the excitement and nervousness I felt for you, my darling daughter, as you and Charlie prepared for her birth. I kept thinking to myself what a fabulous journey you were about to embark on and how much fun you were going to have. I am constantly cheered by the many milestones you are embracing with HB as she grows up. The milestones of your children are to be embraced and cherished. I continue to be so proud of you and as you achieve other milestones in your own life, please know your momma will ALWAYS be there cheering you on and saying, "that's my daughter, Kasie, and I am her Momma!" I love you, Kasie!

    1. Thanks, mom. I know I have a devoted fan in you and a great model for the cheerleader I want to be for HB.

  2. O.K. I'm crying. I don't know if it's because Hollie Russ is turning five or because your being such a good writer until you've turned me into an old "sentimental slob."
    My first introduction to HR was when Sam and I were huggin' each other tightly and jumping up and down in a circle when we heard her very first "strong vocal chords" (as Aunt Carolyn Sue would say). Then, the nurse walked out with a fairly big size white piece of paper. Sam and I gasped. On the paper were two huge black footprints. Sam looked at me and I looked at her as if to ask, "Is our granddaughter a Sasquatch?"
    From the moment I saw her, I fell madly in love. It would have made no difference to me had she been an "Ettie." When she was hungry, she rooted "like a piglet," at which her daddy became extremely annoyed with me for the comparison. Placed in the infant seat, her left leg would kick up and down to make the seat jiggle. In my arms for naps, she would squirm and twist about until she found the perfect position in which to fall asleep. Even today, at age five, she still does that. Except today, I need to refrain from calling her "the baby." Today, she is officially a precious "little girl" from God.
    Thank you, Lord. Thank you, my children Kasie and Charlie. And thank you, Hollie Russ for bringing joy and happiness into my life.

    1. Thanks, Mammy, for coming by Clemson Road and for sharing some special details about HB. She's a firecracker, for sure, and we're all so fortunate to have her.

      Likewise, she's a very lucky little girl to have so many people who love her. There are children in this world without a single person to love them. HB has an army of friend, family, and fans. We are blessed!

  3. Very sweet. I love all the cute photos. A bunch of happy birthday wishes to your wonderful girl!

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. It's always great to see you on Clemson Road!


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