Dolly Levi, You are a Damned Exasperating Woman


A few months ago, we were trying to settle on a movie to watch on a Saturday night. After perusing Disney+ for a few minutes, we settled on Hello, Dolly!. Ashley had seen the movie, but I had not. I was aware of the cultural significance of the musical and its reference in Wall•e, which has been a family favorite for years.

I immediately fell in love with Hello, Dolly!. I found Walter Matthau to be hilarious and the music to be infectious. Matthau’s character has quite a few great lines, but there was one in particular that has stuck with me ever since: “Dolly Levi, you are a damned exasperating woman.” As soon as I heard it, I knew that it summed up my feelings towards my daughter, Adelaide.

Adelaide is fiercely independent, frustratingly so. She rarely heeds my warnings of potential danger in situations, like when she decided to practice twirling at the top of our stairs. I pleaded with her to practice twirling elsewhere, but she felt the top of the stairs was the perfect place for this. I eventually had to pick her up against her objections. I try to explain my feelings or my concerns. She usually smiles and continues doing what she wants. I raise my voice. There is no change. It’s a constant battle. I want her to be a strong person. I just want her to be a bit more receptive when personal safety is on the line.

I love her dearly. She is already three years old and it’s happening way too fast. I plead with time to slow down, but time is about as obstinate as Adelaide. I recently sat with her and just watched her twirl. Her twirls are beautiful, even if a little clumsy. I really needed her to finish getting her pajamas on for bed, but I just watched. I asked her a few times to finish getting her pajamas on, but she smiled and kept twirling. I considered raising my voice, but doing so wouldn’t help and would only make me feel bad later. I sat and watched. She finally walked over, gave me a kiss, and finished changing into her pajamas. Progress.