On Her 18th Birthday

Right now, Chloe girl is out in Cali looking hard at UCLA, one of the many colleges where she was accepted. Decision Day looms —
Dartmouth, Northwestern, UCLA? I think it’s down to those three. Which one will she choose?

We are immensely proud of Chloe Rose Bollinger, who turns 18 tomorrow, and it seems like only yesterday that we were making our way home from the hospital, our baby girl’s tiny body befitted in a fancy “going home” outfit. We struggled again (just as we had with our first child) in getting her buckled snugly into her car seat. There was a freakish April snow storm that delayed the entire discharge process at the hospital. I remember so clearly how happy I was to be able to crawl back into my own bed with my  baby girl in my arms once we’d finally made it home from the hospital.

Who knew all the places this little bundle of pink love would go in life and the heights of joy her living in our world would bring us? You can’t really comprehend all the paths your child will bring you down. It’s too overwhelming. The mystery of it all is exciting, yes, but frightening too.

Looking back over the years there are many things I remember about young Chloe. Here are a few — She never cried as a baby. She just didn’t. She didn’t cry at birth. She didn’t cry when she was hungry. She’d make tiny mewing, cooing sounds when she needed something but there was never any wailing. She slept through the entire night in her crib on that first night home from the hospital, the whole discharge scene perhaps exhausting her as much as it had me.

Chloe was enthralled with the film,”The Wizard of Oz,” and for a lengthy period of time in her young life, she wore red ruby slippers every day. If she couldn’t wear them to preschool, she’d quickly change into them as soon as she got home. We purchased many, many pairs of ruby slippers.

Chloe played “school” with gusto, usually assuming the role of teacher. During these school enactments, she taught her younger brother, Charlie The Kid, how to read.

Chloe was present at her younger sister, Genevieve’s, birth. Chloe came up with her baby sister’s nickname, “Gigi,” short for Genevieve Gray and she doted on “her” baby. Gigi, to this day, turns to Chloe first when she needs something and Mom and Dad are not around or not paying close enough attention.

Chloe loves her dogs – Simone, Daffodil and Abbie – and boy do they love her, greeting her whenever she walks in the door with a frenzy that causes an uproar throughout the entire house.

Chloe is kind…to her parents, to her siblings, to her friends and peers. She is certainly intelligent, book smart as they say, but it’s her emotional intelligence that puts her far and above. She is far and above…

Chloe has a beautiful voice, rich in tone and pitch perfect. She has been constantly humming and singing to herself for years, which can sometimes be annoying to those around her, but I know it’s going to be one of the first things I’ll miss when she’s off to college this fall.

The goodbye-for-college is going to be rough, no doubt about it. This being our second time around for a “child-leaves-the-nest” moment, I’m hopeful that I can draw on my wisdom and past experience to bring a bit more grace to the whole affair. We shall see about that.

One thing is for sure, Chloe has taught me so many things these past 18 years…about myself, my family, my marriage, what it means to be a human in this world, what it means to be loved and adored. I can’t wait to witness the paths she chooses and how far those paths will take her…how far and above she will soar.

Happy Birthday, Chloe Rose! Happy Birthday to you!

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