Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hayley Ann

My dad put tabasco sauce on my thumb so I'd quit sucking it on the night that my mom went into labor with Hayley. We were about to play a round of Go Fish. I was smelling my thumb thinking of ways I could discretely remove the poison, when my mom called from the bathroom,

"Rick, my water broke."

Just like that. My mom is always cool and collected under pressure...or when in labor, apparently.

My parents immediately called a babysitter, and I immediately went to the bathroom to wash the ick off of my precious vice. I remember that I thanked God in my prayers that night for letting me be so lucky.

But it wasn't the thumb I should have thanked Him for.

It was the little bundle that I went and visited in the hospital the next day, little Hayley Ann Batten. I remember my grandma BB telling me,

"Now, she's not one of your babydolls, Brett. You have to be gentle with her. Hold her head up. Don't touch her softspot."

All of this was sound advice, except that she was a babydoll. A perfect, precious little angel of a babydoll. I wanted to hold her as soon as I got home from school every day. I wanted to feed her her bottles and give her baths and pick out her clothes. I quickly became her second mother. I carted Hayley around on my hip like she was my own daughter, patted her butt when she cried and fed her plums instead of green beans, because those were her favorite.

And now she's 16. She turned 16 on Wednesday.

I still can't believe it. I remember when she was little--all of the cutest details like:

-her favorite foods were macaroni and blueberries ("booberries") and she liked to eat them while watching Blues Clues ("Boos Cooes")
-she was a stoic little baby until you started singing "Oh, How I Love Jesus" to her, and she'd bob her head back and forth
- she had a bear, whom she'd carry around by the arm named, appropriately, "Beary"
- she had a pink, bean-bag stuffed baby that she named "Patty"
- she had not one strand of hair on her little head until she was, like, two
- she loved to play "Little People" on our very first home computer. I remember her hand was barely big enough to move the mouse around.

and now look at her:

I mean, seriously? Beautiful.  

She's so grown up, my little baby. 

She's pretty.
She's a swimmer. 
She's funny. 
She's wise. 
She's mature. 
She can name the make and model of any car on the interstate before you even pass it.
She's a poet. 
She can eat a whole pizza by herself. 
She has a boater's license. 
She went to Ukraine when she was a freshman in high school and volunteered at an orphanage. She came home talking about "her boys" and still has a picture of them in her room at home. 
Right now, her status on facebook says, 
"God bless the orphans around the world."

Of all the things a 16-year-old should or could or might care about, Hayley chooses things that matter. 

You make me proud, Boppie. I love you so much. 

Oh, and happy belated birthday. 


  1. Your tribute posts are so touching.

  2. Trying to sum up the essence of a person in words is challenging and often falls short. If it's possible, then you've done it Brett.
    Thank you for giving all of us an opportunity to reflect on the 16 years that "your baby" has been on this earth. You, Kiki and Hayley Ann are blessings to us all.

  3. This seriously makes my heart swell...just love it, and love your words!

  4. Very well done! There's nothing quite like having a younger sibling, but you have captured your experience well:)

  5. this is why i am so glad that i have a sister. they are the light in our lives!!