Pleasure of Parenting

The morning was slow and easy, spent getting one child through their shower and then starting on the next.

Nathan whirled around us, getting ready for his party.

It was lovely.

Only Kirk and Barrett’s family came, and they were wonderful as they have been before.  None of the other biological families came.  Theater friends and community friends and Nathan’s parents and friends from church came.

Alex and Barrett are the pair who are most active, and get themselves in trouble from classic boy things, like falling downstairs because they were chasing a squirrel, or shattering glass because they were running in circles with a jar of candy, or missing the first five minutes of the party because they pushed down girls to get in first.

We are working on it.

It was Anber, though, who freaked out because someone picked up the green lego – really, that was the only trigger – and spent the first half hour of the party screaming and kicking the walls.  We left her in the room by herself, because that is what her therapist says, so that she knows it’s okay to feel angry or sad, but that she can’t talk to people until she first calms down and can take deep breaths and use her words instead of hitting and screaming and kicking.

She says, if we try to rescue her or talk to her or hold her while she is like that, then it will teach her to keep doing it, and she will keep doing it into adolescence when it will be far worse.

She says, if we fight against her on it, she will get confused and think her feelings are bad.

Her feelings are not bad, they hold information.  She is not bad.  She sometimes makes bad choices, but she is a good girl and we love her.

So when she screams, that is a choice she is free to make, but she needs to do it in private, so she can catch up her self-regulation skills she should have learned in infancy.


I did have to change the baby, though, and her stuff was in there, so I got caught in her trap when I had to go in there for that, but then I left as soon as I could.  The very moment she was quiet again, we ran to open the door, to reward her and connect with her following her positive choice in good self-care and self-soothing skills (the skills she should have learned in the months before we got her as an eleven month old).  When we heard her taking deep breaths on her own, we praised her and encouraged her and gave her a hug.  When she was calm again, she was able to rejoin the party and participated pretty well.  She did not get any snacks, though, because she had tried to steal the cake before the party and eaten the whole side of it so that Nathan had to make a new one!  I was proud of her for being brave, though, even going up to sing and to dance for a couple of songs, which is a huge deal for her.  She has come so far and is making such progress!  It all went well until after the party, when – like a book end – she threw another tantrum, screaming because a lady tried to take her own purse home, and then hitting when she was caught trying to take someone else’s candy.  Classic Anber, though, once she was calm (and even apologized for eating the first party cake), she wanted to process and said that “when I was screaming, that was not very happy, and I missed some activities.  It is more happy to just use my words, because I only got five bites of cake when I was stealing cake, but everyone who waited until the party got all the cake the wanted.”  She is so clever, and trying so hard.

Mary was sad because her grandpa would have come, but “is still dead” and so she misses him.  It’s her cousin’s birthday, though, and we adore her cousin.  So we made her a little birthday video and got that sent off to help cheer up them both.

Barrett had a blast, and I am sure he will throw up at any minute. He always throws up after parties, no matter if we limit his intake or not.  It’s the excitement, somehow, I think, so we just let him enjoy himself.  He twice got upset, mostly from being worn out, I think, but he did great and did not escalate and stayed calm and used his words.  He is growing up so fast!  I am so proud of him.

Kirk is increasingly sad at visits.  It’s hard, because if it gets too hard we can’t have them anymore.  He’s doing so well that we cannot disrupt that, and the relationships are good for him if they are healthy and positive.  But he missed most of the party from crying, though it’s hard to tell what was for attention and what was really a struggle.  I mean, the struggle is legitimate, and I can’t imagine the grief – I only know from losing my own parents, which is hard enough – but to keep saying goodbye is so hard, I am sure.  It’s good for him, though, to see his family, if he can endure it, but it’s so much to ask from such little ones.

I didn’t get many pictures during the event because I was mostly with the baby.  Since she had a visit yesterday, we have a 24-36 hour window of being in public anyway, so we just went to enjoy the day as a family. We are trying to find out if we can all go to church tomorrow, even if just for sacrament meeting, but I know we are on strict isolation – all of us – after Christmas, with no visitors or anything, so that she can be healthy and ready for surgery in January.  I don’t know how that works with violin lessons or all the therapists that come in the home.  I assume it’s okay, if we just keep her out of that room.  We are doing our best, and she is doing much better still – and holding her sats and having good color – since being back on oxygen again.

We were all worn out and exhausted and overstimulated after the party.  It was a little long, and hard for the little ones, but we learned a lot for how to do this kind of event.  I love Nathan’s designs, his attention to detail, and the funny ideas for snacks.  He had a hot chocolate bar, and a food table divided into “naughty and nice” – with all kinds of funny theme foods.  The backdrop for photos was a real hit, and super fun for photos.  I love these pictures so much!


When we finally got things cleaned up and headed home for pajamas, Nathan’s dad was very kind and brought us dinner.  The kids nearly fell asleep in their food!  They were so worn out!

I was, too, and nearly on the verge of tears.  Visits are always emotional, and the kids always struggle after, and we have been working hard on getting ready for Christmas (there are pillowcases on the new pillows!).  Then when I made the baby’s last bottle before bed, one of the kids ran into me and knocked it out of my hand and it spilled everywhere.  I had to remake it, and then dropped it when I was trying to untangle her oxygen tubes, and had to remake it again!  When she finished eating, I was getting her in pajamas and she threw up – in my mouth!  It was awful, and too much for one night, and I just went and had a quick girl cry while the kids were changing into pajamas.

Merry Christmas! I wish I could give your kids back for you!

Merry Christmas!  I know you are only three and a half, but you have been kicking me for two years.

Merry Christmas!  I know you miss your mom, but I am sorry to tell you she can’t come to your party because she wants to do meth instead.

Merry Christmas!  Please don’t throw blocks at your brother.

Merry Christmas!  I am sorry you sneezed a banana out of your nose, but please get a paper towel and wipe it up off the floor.

Merry Christmas!  Yes, you told me you were not too full for that last piece of cake, but please sleep on this extra bed by the bathroom for when you need to throw up.

Merry Christmas!  No, those are not all toys. I promise you are getting socks for Christmas.

Merry Christmas!  Please pull your face out of your fish and green beans, and go say prayers with daddy so you can crawl into bed.

Merry Christmas!  Get your hands out of your pants!

Merry Christmas!  Get your fingers out of your nose!

Merry Christmas!  Please don’t step on your sister!

It’s the season of happiness and unity, right?  Silent nights?  All is calm, and all is well.



About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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