Totally awesome, applied by Blitzen and Carrie.
Archive for August, 2012
Way back in the beginning, it was really hard to be with Blitzen out in the world – lots of stimulus, lots of drama. I would often distract her by ‘interviewing’ her. I would get out a pad of paper and ask her a lot questions (or just one) and let her tell me how she saw it.
When moving, I uncovered an old notebook and I found the following list which I can only deduce must have been Blitzen’s response to the question above or something quite similar:
1) Don’t be mean
2) Don’t talk rudely
3) Don’t ever hit a child
4) Listen to kids
5) Make sure there is healthy food
6) Give them a safe place to sleep, not on the floor
7) Learn about the kids when they move to your house
8) Help kids with their homework
9) Take them to the doctor and dentist
10) Make sure they eat grains and vegetables
11) Teach kids stuff they don’t know
12) Make sure kids go to school
13) Give kids their medicine when they need it
14) Play with kids
15) Give kids hugs and kisses, especially when they feel sad
I must say that I think this list about covers it.
Before Blitzen, I got a lot of time to myself and I enjoyed it. I mean, I really enjoyed it. A lot of people don’t love being alone. I do, love going to dinner alone, the movies, on walks, you name it. I am also a very social person and a crazy workaholic – maybe I kinda do a lot of stuff to the max? But I always created lots of carrie-on-my-own-time. And now, I really struggle with finding it - so much energy is focused on Blitzen.
I know it is not possible to cram 8 years worth of ‘really should have had, really deserved, really needed’ stuff into the right-this-second, but I am (probably very unhealthily) trying.
All this to say, I turned off the phone and tried not to feel too guilty about it.
I climbed magnificent, beautiful, deep rusty red, petrified sand dunes. The wind had blown the sand in from goodness knows where, piled it layer upon layer until it created mountains of dust and sand grains. Then it all just hardened and cemented into these crazy, exquisite, intricate patterns. The dunes have stayed almost exactly as they were when they were formed thousands and thousands of years ago.
Many days, I worry about what has hardened in Blitzen. She is an amazingly beautiful creation, the result of random acts and unusual circumstances. She has been buffeted and blown all about. In my humble opinion, she is a freaking miraculous work of nature, she is a wonder, for sure.
But, her anger is locked, frozen, deep inside. What if she can never let it go? The only time she seems capable of releasing any of it is when there is a Blitzen storm, a torrent of emotion that sweeps through like a flash flood. And I don’t know if she is relinquishing her pain or just wearing herself down. Like the dunes that are made of sandstone, she is hard but fragile, so easy to damage.
I am in red rock country, settling, centering, quieting myself. I visited the same petroglyphs that I wrote about a year ago. And once again, I am awed by the beauty of the art carved deep in the rock, equally awed by the need of human beings to connect and communicate through space and time. To reveal their story and explain (or maybe discover?) their origins.
Lately, Blitzen has been fairly obsessed with hearing the story of the day we met. She will ask Andrew and I to tell the tale, from our own point of view and then, she’ll ask to hear it again.
I try not to get too much inside Blitzen’s head. But this new, oft repeated topic of conversation, really has me wondering what she is thinking and feeling. On some levels, it is pretty transparent, as she struggles to feel like a part of our family, this memory is something big, important, a moment that we all share. And, of course, it is the beginning. Hard to know where you should go next, if you can’t come to terms with where you have been.
“Yeah, I know, I loved our old house too. But sometimes people have to move. We didn’t choose it, we just had to. And soon, we’ll love this house too.”
“I won’t,” said Blitzen.
“Really?” I replied. “What about when your mermaid mural is up on the wall? And look at that new, cool bookshelf that we just built for you. And the room is such a pretty color blue now, you got to pick the color.” Yes, I came home early from work to build a bookshelf, not that I am bragging about my handiness or anything. Blitzen was an excellent helper – she loves to construct things.
“Would you like to look at our art work and decide what to put up in here? Where the Wild Things Are? Or the Purple Panda that Tom painted for us?”
“Ok, Wild Things and the Panda, over there and there. I guess I’ll call the new house Tobias.”
When we started this blog, Andrew and I, I think we mostly wanted to force ourselves to produce a record of what we expected would be an unusual, amazing, heartbreaking, confusing, joyful journey. And it has been those things. It has been a little bit of an electronic lifebook of the past year plus, a public journal of our attempt to parent/love/engage/give to a creative, bright, sad, angry little girl.
For me, the blogging has been way more. It has been something that I have done for myself in a way that I did not anticipate.
I really enjoy writing – who knew? It is cathartic and liberating and forces me to be mindful and experience this experience now, as it is happening.
It has also built a community of support. When I feel tired or like I am not a good parent or think to myself, why on earth did I sign up to do this exhausting, maddening job? Somebody always hears me and responds in a way that makes me take a deep breath and reminds me that I can do this. That I am doing it and I am doing it pretty darn well, actually, so I should let go a little bit and accept and relax. And often the responder is a total stranger which is oddly validating because, wow, someone that doesn’t even know and love me, is taking time to send me good internet vibes. How thoughtful, how kind, how helpful it is to hear from you, internet peeps. And I also feel, as corny as it sounds, that creates an atmosphere of love for Blitzen. She doesn’t know about it but I do — a kind of shockingly large number of geographically diverse people are rooting for her and interested in her story.
All this to say, thanks for talking me into blogging, Andrew. It has totally been worth it.
Blitzen replied, ‘Garlic and sardines.’
Yes, that is right. Garlic and sardines. You can only imagine the delightful odor emanating from my kitchen.
The child really does have very odd taste buds.
I really don’t like losing my temper. I very rarely do. Well, let me rephrase. It is rarely apparent to those around me that I have lost it. But it is so difficult to retain one’s cool, a calm sense of control when a 9 year is whipping a tea towel at you, screaming bloody murder. One tends to grab the tea towel and yank it from the wee one’s hands and start yelling back, hollering ridiculous things like, ‘stop screaming.’
Sigh…that is not who I like to be. My respite cannot come quickly enough.
When I was a kid, my dad used to take my sister and me to a place called Hot Dog Johnny’s. A few weeks ago, on our way to the beach house in the mountains, we stopped there. They sell hot dogs, root beer, floats, fries and buttermilk, of all things - that is it. It is a nostalgic place for me and I was excited to share it with Blitzen. It reminds me of my father, what was wonderful about him and the ways in which we connected and shared a few very special things. My relationship with my dad was actually quite complicated and a bit, well, fraught with unfufilled expectations, but that is a post for another time.
Anyway, in true kid fashion, Blitzen was just so unimpressed. She liked the swings and enjoyed the root beer but was pretty mad that her hot dog was ‘wrinkly’. Johnny’s deep fries the dogs in peanut oil – not the healthiest or most aesthetically pleasing presentation but it sure is tasty. Anyway, Blitzen wouldn’t eat the wrinkle dog so I got 2. And it was fun to take her there. We’ll try again. I don’t remember whining about wrinkle dogs but it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that I had – just part of being a kid, I think.