It was exciting, out of control, quite a party. There was one sparkler per child (woo-hoo) then 2 bowls of popcorn and hot cocoa as we watched an American Girl Doll movie in our pjs. All people under 5′ tall were fast asleep by 9:30pm, adults stayed up until 11pm. Yeah, I haven’t partied like that in years.
Posts Tagged ‘holidays’
Blitzen and kids – millions of them – playing all the time. Ok, so maybe not millions but probably 6 little girls roughly the same age, converging daily to frolic on my mother’s street. You knew it would happen, eventually, trouble. And when we’re talking about girls of this particular age, trouble usually equals boys.
Blitzen came running into the house, breathless, ‘Boys! Mean boys,’ pant, pant, pant,’are on the street, come quick.’ And she sprinted back outside. Well, I sauntered outside and sure enough – 2 little boys are going toe to toe with 6 helmeted, scootered and biked girls. I mean, really, the poor guys didn’t stand a chance. I strolled to the end of the driveway and suggested that if the boys were bothersome, perhaps the girls should, you know, walk away. But no, this was not good enough. Blitzen, who will surely be a 3rd base coach later in life, explained to me that I was to stand guard in the driveway and when she gave the signal, I should come over to the group, quickly. She demonstrated the signal – similar, I think, to what an airport ground crew would do if the flight tower and air traffic control was ever knocked out.
Satisfied that I understood our code, she then returned to the group and said, ‘My mom’s right there – all I have to do is give her the signal.’ As if this phrase is known to strike fear into the hearts of 9 year old boys everywhere. I called to her that I was going back inside. And so I did.
Unfortunately, that is when the rumble broke out and my mother (the elementary school teacher) had to take over. Apparently there was a slap or maybe just a pretend slap and a kick, that was probably kind of like a playful kick in the butt, (all initiated by the girls, I might add) but hey, no matter and not on Nana’s street. I am pretty sure prison gangs would have cowered in fear. She went outside and threw down. Seriously, she took her whistle and everything.
I mentioned the cul-de-sac yesterday, right? Filled with feral children just wandering around looking for other short people to play with – like all day long. And of course there are bikes and scooters and there is running and jumping and going over to the neighbors and coming back home and going back to the neighbors to play, play, play with everyone’s holiday bounty.
There is also the car, no subways, no walking about. There is Ray’s pizza just like in NYC but not really.
And there are lights – oh my, the merry holiday lights on people’s homes. Gaudy, tacky, crazy, wacky lights. We drove around for an hour admiring the handy work of industrious Phoenicians with nothing better to do than collect light up Santas and baby Jesuses for display in their yards next to their saguaros.
Blitzen loved it – every bit of it. This is her idea of heaven. She announced that she loved Phoenix – it’s beautiful, it’s sunny plus you get to drive everywhere! Really, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Looked a little something like this:
Fly from NC to Phx – 6 long, long hours but everyone behaved during the bumpy airplane ride. Thank you to any and all gods for ipad and assorted apps.
Deplane, gather now stuffed to bursting bags loaded with the first round of holiday gifts, drive to Andrew’s dad’s deserted home (thank you, Beepaw) to stay the night. Eat late dinner, get mad at bedtime, put on leggings, sweatshirt, hat and mittens with sandals – declare ‘I am really leaving this time’ but only lie down on the sofa and fall asleep.
Get up next morning for Christmas part 2. Go Carrie’s parents’ house and open gifts with aunts and uncle and cousin — wow, Santa came here too and everything is as surprise. Yay! Have lovely holiday brunch and bonding with family. Then play, play, play, play, play with 9 year old cousin and assorted neighbors in quiet cul-de-sac ALL DAY LONG. Do not notice or care that Carrie drinks 3 cups of coffee, uses a swear word and watches an entire BLACK and WHITE movie, ALONE on dvd while lying on the sofa. Bliss, for everyone, bliss.
I was tense on Christmas, I admit it. I often am around the holidays anyway – always kinda feels like pressure to be a million places with a million people all at once. And of course, this year I was also worried about traveling with Blitzen during a stressful time but she was really great. No huge meltdowns, a few ‘I hate you and everything about you’ rants but really nothing out of the 9 year old norm.
I have to say that spilling the beans about the holiday gifts was pure genius, no stress, no disappointment — just pure joy and glee upon receiving the completely expected gifts plus the bonus items from Santa in her stocking. Top it all off with the many generous items from family and the kid got everything she asked for and a little bit more.
And that was just Christmas part 1. The timeline went something like this:
Fly from NYC to NC, arrive late evening but get to SWIM in our mermaid tail (soon to be old, homemade mermaid tail) at the hotel before bed.
Wake up, go play with family and friends, swim with family and friends, play some more, go to bed, get outta bed, eat cereal with Andrew in hotel room while singing Taylor Swift songs as Carrie hides under the covers, go to sleep eventually.
Christmas Eve — wake up, swim, play, go make holiday cookies, play and resentfully go holiday shopping for last minute gifts, swim, go have holiday meal with family, then participate in an improv comedy skit with aunt and uncle people both of whom have missed their calling and should really go join Second City because the whole family was rolling on the floor after Blitzen assigned them the roles of ‘annoying girl’ and ‘annoying neighbor’ in her imaginary play game. I can’t recall it all but at one point there was an imaginary salamander circus….Need I say more?
Christmas Day — wake up too early, freakishly agree to watch a video until it is an hour respectable enough to crash home of lovely relatives, go open stocking and expected gifts, eat holiday brunch, play, play and play some more, get on airplane and fly to Phx for Merry Christmas, part 2.
Birthdays are a very big deal to Blitzen. She can hardly imagine anything worse than your birthday NOT being celebrated. She has put a lot of energy into making nice birthday celebrations for Andrew and me this past year. I would love to understand this obsession better or perhaps I wouldn’t. There is likely an awful story behind her birthday anxiousness or perhaps it is just a story of 8 years of underwhelming birthdays — it is difficult to say.
My birthday was this week. I was tired after the trip and glad to keep it quite low-key. We ordered in dinner and had cake, there were presents (necklaces, of course!).
But Blitzen and I had our first post-trip fight right before the relaxing celebration. As with many things in our life, it wasn’t about what it was about. It started because Blitzen wanted to go shopping and I didn’t. I didn’t want to spend any money on junk that we didn’t need. I was being a typical parent. But Blitzen was angry about the fact that I had been gone for a week and this was the perfect excuse to show me how she really felt. It was a fight about loss, fear, anxiety and loneliness.
I was calm and just sat on the floor of the lobby of Andrew’s office to ride it out (this is where it began, right after school). Eventually, I convinced her to leave and she continued to argue with me (is it arguing if only one person is upset?) all the way to the subway station, her frustration rising. When it was time to go through the turnstile, Blitzen reached her pinnacle – she gritted her teeth, tears popped out of her eyes, I think she literally growled as she clenched her fists and stomped her feet. It lasted maybe 30 seconds, then she released, turned in a huff and went through on to the subway.
When I compare this reaction to the one in March, I think again, how amazingly far she has come. The control she can now exhibit when it comes to her emotions is tremendous. Now we just need to get her to talk about them before she gets to code red. But that is another post.
On the train, when she had calmed down, she let me hug her and we talked about why she was upset. She was upset for a lot of reasons including the fact that she is in foster care and her mom gave her away (she thinks/says) and she doesn’t want to leave us. I asked if she was mad at me for going on my trip. She said that she was. I asked why and she said exactly what I knew she would — Blitzen was scared that I wouldn’t come back.
We’ve been separated several times now and I think it is a good thing. Blitzen needs to know that people come back and that the leaving has nothing to do with her. But I know this is a very hard thing, deeply tied to so many issues in her life, past and present. I am hoping that it gets better – we’ll have lots of practice this year.
Somehow they keep sneaking up on us a little bit. We knew Easter was coming. We would need to dye eggs and we would need to purchase egg dye. Fastforward to egg dying day and Andrew is calling all over upper Manhattan trying to find a place that sells egg dying kits.
One week later, Saturday night before Easter – can I find the pretty easter basket grass and the plastic eggs at the local drug store? No, I cannot. I did find a chocolate bunny and jelly beans. Apparently these items were good enough without the plastic eggs and fake grass. And that is one of the fascinating and lovely things about experiencing these holidays with Blitzen. Our expectations are so much higher than hers. She was really excited to see her little basket. She ran right into our room, the Easter Bunny actually came, she cried! It makes me wonder (kind of sadly) what these types of holidays have been like in the past. I’ve mentioned before that Blitzen has a habit of co-opting our memories so we rarely know what she really has or has not done. No matter, I suppose — she is delighted every time with every holiday. And we are delighted to get to spend these times with her. Sometimes parenting is way more fun than I thought it would be.
We went to a Martin Luther King day march today. Organized fully by some very inspiring 8th graders with whom Andrew is acquainted. Blitzen was not as interested in the speeches at the historic stops along the march route (all given by kids) as she was in leading the ‘parade’. She had her scooter with her and jetted out in front along every leg of the journey.
We peeled off after an hour or so because Blitzen’s big toe was so frozen she could barely walk or scoot or so she said. All good. It was fun to experience the march with her and I am always surprised and delighted by watching her try new things. She is curious and creative and watching her take these experiences and make sense of them is a fascinating and fun thing.
We took down the tree. And I knew that it would be a sad moment for Blitzen — she really really loved the tree and its ornaments.
To make our transition go a little bit more smoothly, we painted some pinecones with glitter paint and hung them in the window as winter decorations. So we’d have something pretty to look at when the tree was gone and so that we could show our friends that we had made more lovely ornaments. It worked well but when we were taking down the tree, we still had lots of why, how come, do we have to do it now, kinda questions.
And when I said — We’ll have a tree again next year
Blitzen responded — I won’t live here next year
And this is where things always get real dicey because maybe she will or maybe she won’t and I honestly have no idea what will happen although I suspect that she thinks that we control it all and are just withholding the real information from her.
So I said — We’ll still be friends even if you don’t live here, so you will come visit our tree and help us put it up, won’t you?
Blitzen thought on that for a few minutes and then said — Yes, I’ll help with the tree and we’ll see each other on my birthday too
And I really hope that it is true that we’ll still be friends and involved and welcomed in Blitzen’s life, if she lands somewhere else. It is our intention but we’re not the only ones that get to decide that although we’re pretty persistent and stubborn so I am thinking that we can make it happen, if we try hard enough.
We read the Grinch this week. I asked Blitzen if she knew about the Grinch. Her reply “The Grinch is mean, he stole Christmas but all the people sang ‘whoo-whoo-whoo’ and then he gave Christmas back”.
We have a lovely (and large for us) tree. Blitzen wanted to know the story behind each ornament and we actually have a story for just about every one. She had a couple of visitors from the agency this week and she proudly showed them the ornaments, recalling the stories or what she liked about each one ”Andrew made this when he was little”, “This is the best Santa ornament”, etc, etc.
This evening, we made a plan to leave out a cookie (decorated lovingly by Blitzen) and some milk. I suggested that we leave a carrot for the reindeer and was curtly informed that the reindeer stay outside.
Blitzen also decided that a cookie wasn’t much of a gift so she chose 2 ornaments (Santa themed ones) from the tree, put them in a gift bag and placed them right next to the cookie and milk, explaining that one was for Santa and the other for Mrs. Claus for their tree.
At bedtime tonight, there was lots of Santa talk. We started with the cookie – would he take just one bite or eat it all? At first, she thought probably just a bite because he would have lots of cookies throughout the night. But then upon reflection, it was decided that he would be pretty hungry after bringing in all her presents and would need to eat it all.
I was also informed that he definitely lives at the North Pole, not Antartica where it is too cold even for polar bears. Also, if I want to find Santa’s house, I should look for the candy canes that the elves put out.
All day she has been talking about how she would go right to sleep so that Santa could come. Before she fell asleep, she reminded me that I needed to turn out all the lights when I went to bed so he knew that we were sleeping.
Now all this Santa talk would not be my natural inclination, none of this comes from Andrew and me. But damn, the kid wants to believe so badly. I can’t even count the number of times that she asked about her gifts — would there be a lot of presents under the tree? will there be a Baby Alive because she has wanted one her whole life? Rest assured, there will be a Baby Alive!
Before drifting off tonight, she plaintively asked “He is real, right?”
She is a little gift obsessed and I guess most kids are. But we are a tiny bit nervous (I mean hugely, tremendously terrified) about what happens after the last gift is opened tomorrow. The upside of this is that, on more than one occassion today, she said “This present is so great, I want to open it again tomorrow”. And we dutifully put the item back in the box and under the tree. Maybe we can get a couple of days out of the recycled gifts before the let down takes hold.