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Posts Tagged ‘adventure’

Blitzen’s basket contained lots of candy (pink peeps, chocolate bunny, jelly beans, malted chocolate eggs), 2 books (Teenage Mermaid and My Sister’s Vampire), vampire teeth (because really, what easter basket is complete without vampire teeth) and a miniature dragon fly kite because we spent Easter day at Coney Island (what easter family dinner is complete without a Nathan’s hot dog. lemonade and cheese fries).

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Andrew and I worked a bit late last night so one of Blitzen’s babysitter extraordinaires took her to the hair braiding place to get her hair done.  Just as they were leaving the salon to head home, it started to pour down rain – not misty, not drizzle, more like monsoon.  And no umbrella.

Blitzen burst through the door, happy and laughing, telling the story of how they ran all the way home and showing off her wet, soggy clothes. Smiling, giggling, giving her babysitter a hug goodnight and moving along into the evening routine.

Now some people are all – so what?  Lots of kids like the rain.

And I am thinking back two years to our first spring with Blitzen when we got caught in a similar downpour and the child simply ceased to function.  Hysterical, sobbing, unable to move — not a cab or dry awning to be seen.  It was awful.  We practically had to carry her home — she just came completely undone.

I will try very hard to remember this triumph of emotional regulation and happy embrace of childhood wonders the next time Blitzen balls up her fists and growls at me (her latest thing).  I’ll remember that even the growl is an improvement, heading toward a much more socially acceptable expression of negative emotion.

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Andrew called and said, “What are you guys up to?”  I replied, “Buying vampire teeth, of course, what are you doing?”

We had an old friend from St. Louis in town for the weekend.  She has a lot of dietary allergies and so Andrew had been researching restaurants and had found one that we love that would be happy to accommodate her requests.  It is a very very very fancy italian restaurant and they said that they could do their pasta gluten-free.  But it is very fancy and expensive.

Andrew, “So, you want to come out to dinner?” Me, “With Blitzen? There?”

So I asked Blitzen, “Would you like to go a very fancy restaurant with Andrew and our friend? It will take a very long time, they are going to bring us a lot of different foods, we’re going to have sit for a long time.”

Blitzen considered this, “I’ll try-y-y-y it.”

Some highlights:

Blitzen peering down a marble staircase to the ‘basement’ and saying – “Why do they have all that beer in the basement.” That would be the wine cellar, honey.

Blitzen, upon being presented with the 4th of 5 courses, leaning over to me and saying, “Why do they keep bringing us food? I just don’t get it.”

Me, pointing to something on Blitzen’s plate and saying, “That is roasted cauliflower, you know.” And Blitzen saying, “Yes!” and literally grabbing several fingerful to stuff in her mouth.  Who can be bothered with cutlery when roasted vegetables are available.

Blitzen going to the coatcheck because she “needed” something.  Blitzen being ratted out by the coatcheck guy, “I remember you, you came by here an hour ago for the candy in your mom’s bag.”  ‘Cause she’s peckish, I guess, in the middle of our 5 courses.

Blitzen was engaged in the conversation and the food.  It was a marathon and amazing meal – more than 2 hours of wonderful food. She was patient and polite and stayed in her seat except when she went to 1) go see if she could find the pianist 2) went to look at a vase up close that she was pretty sure was shaped like the statue of liberty 3) went outside to see if it had started to snow.

And she only wore her vampire teeth between courses!

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And this is how I know that Blitzen has grown so much.

I ask her, once we are on the train, if she knows exactly where in Chelsea that she would like us to go so that I can be sure that we get off at the right stop.  She thought for a minute and said, ‘By M’s house.’  So we got off by M’s house and started walking toward her building.  Just chatting and enjoying the day.  When we were across from M’s apartment, I asked Blitzen if she wanted to share our destination yet.

And she said, ‘I want to buy vampire teeth.’

And I said, ‘Sure, ok.  Is there a vampire teeth store here near M’s?’

And Blitzen said,’Well I think so but I am not sure.  We should into CVS and ask if they have vampire teeth but they probably won’t.  Maybe you could ask where to buy some.’

And I said, ‘That is a very good plan.  I think you are right – they might not have teeth.  Also, vampire teeth are kind of unusual and they may not know where to get some but let’s try.’

So, we went into CVS and at this point in my journey with Blitzen, I am pretty good at spotting that salesperson who will not look at me like I have 2 heads. I locate a young but efficient looking employee and ask, ‘Do you sell vampire teeth?’  The young woman did not bat an eyelash, ‘No, sorry we don’t.’ I followed up, ‘Do you happen to know anywhere in the neighborhood that does?’  And she was so thoughtful, she thunk and thunk and then said, ‘Yes, actually, I think that there is a costume place over at like 6th and 21st.’

Off we went.  I told Blitzen that she needed to be in charge of finding the right  kind of teeth.  So, again, we found just the right salesperson who was happy to spend time with Blitzen discussing the merits of various models of fangs. We are now the proud owners of vampire teeth.  They look really good too.

Blitzen was so regulated, so able to articulate what she needed and wanted, it was really fabulous.  Then the day got even better.

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I like a plan, I like to prepare.  On Sunday afternoon, Blitzen had an early afternoon playdate.  When it was over, she started to get upset as she often does at the conclusion of things.  She began her usual – you never let me do anything, you always say no, I hate you monologue.  But I was feeling particularly zen.

Carrie: ‘Blitzen, it is Sunday afternoon and we have no plans.  What would you like to do?’

Blitzen: ‘You’ll just say no, you only want to do what you want to do.’

Carrie: ‘Hmmm, it probably does feel that way a lot of the time.  What do you want to do this afternoon?’

Blitzen: ‘I want to go to Chelsea!’

Carrie: ‘Ok, what would you like to do in Chelsea?’

Blitzen: ‘I’ll tell you when we get there!’

Now, I started to think about asking a bunch of questions but instead I took a deep breath and just said, great, let’s go.

I think Blitzen was pretty surprised.  I know I was pretty surprised with myself but it was the right thing to do — it was a lazy Sunday afternoon, we had no where to be, why not have an adventure.

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mermaid potion

Salt, check — sea shells (2), check — fancy potion bottle, check — underwater video camera to film the action, check

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This year, Blitzen had a gymnastics themed birthday party.  She loved it.  I wish I could post the slow-motion movie her babysitter took of her on the trampoline – twisting, turning and doing the splits in mid-air.  She is really something.

Many people from her family of origin came to the event including her parents, her siblings, several cousins, one grandma and an uncle.  They all traveled a very long way on public transit on a terrible weather day.  I was glad that they came. Blitzen really wanted them there. She did a wonderful job melding her worlds – us, school friends and their parents, all her family.

There were several wonderful and funny moments to the party.

It had been 2 weeks since the kids had seen each other because of the winter recess.  And as each new girl arrived, the whole pack of them would squeal and hug.  I told one of the moms that it reminded me a 20 year high school reunion – they were so genuinely delighted to see each other.  And Blitzen blurted out, “You’ve all grown so much!”  which is something that she had heard several times during our vacation over the break.

When everyone sat down for pizza, the theme song from Frozen came on.  If you have never seen an impromptu concert with 10 ten year olds and 1 eleven year old belting out that song, then you have not yet lived.  It was hilarious.

At one point, Blitzen’s oldest brother got quite sad.  One of Blitzen’s friends rushed up to her to draw her attention to the situation so Blitzen went right over to him, to reassure him and to pat his back.

Her cake was very very pink with a little sparkly icing and beautiful little purple flowers just as she requested. Apparently, when she and Andrew went to the bakery to order it, she was quite specific about the color and design.  And it turned out fabulous.

At the end of the event, Blitzen was totally cool, no sadness, no meltdown.  I told her it was time for folks to go so she went around giving everyone their goody bag and thanking them for coming to her party.  She was a superb hostess.

 

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So we got our pjs on early, crawled into bed to play go fish and read. And then Blitzen fell asleep early.  Andrew came home and teased me – that was like your perfect night, he said.  You are going to start rooting for sore throats!

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Freeze time, step out of it, go spend like 5 years studying trauma and child brain development, become an expert in managing the behaviors of children with trauma, spend a lot of time with smart people that advocate for mental health care reform and awareness, and come right back to this moment.  I spend a lot of time worrying that I am screwing up a bit in my on the job training here and by the time I figure it all out, Blitzen will be ________ (insert horrible scenario of your wildest and most morbid imaginings here). 

I’d also like to meditate an hour a day, do yoga an hour a day and watch tv.   It is probably not healthy that my heart rate goes through the roof the moment that I walk in the door every night.  Make that 2 hours a day of meditation.  So, somebody just freeze time and I’ll be right back!

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We’ve known Blitzen for 2 years now. Our first day was full, mind-blowing, scary.  As has been every day since.

It has been 2 years of hard work, joy, challenges, love and anger, amazing experiences, disappointments, moments of peace and despair, creativity and caring – for all of us.  Blitzen has worked really hard these past two years to learn how to express herself, regulate her emotions and function peacefully in a home and at school.  Andrew and I have worked really hard these past two years, learning how to parent, play, better express ourselves and function in a home with a child and at work as parents (which, it turns out, is really different than being at work when I wasn’t a parent).

Could not have imagined that we would be here, now, when we started this journey 2 years ago.

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