Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Post-Holiday Apocalypse

Thanksgiving day was warm and balmy, the perfect weather for doing the Turkey Trot, a two-mile charity walk, with the extended family. The plan was everyone would come to my house for breakfast, we would do the walk together here in town, then go to Grandma's house for dinner.

The kids had a wonderful time. The five bigger kids did the walk together, constantly being called to come back, or catch up, by us moms. Baby Brother rode in his stroller like a king, regally wearing the construction paper turkey hat he made at school. It was exhilarating for everyone, big and small, to see the streets filled with thousands of people, many wearing costumes or walking with their dogs, like we were. Later, more fun and merriment was enjoyed at Grandma's house. I think we would all agree that it was a perfect day. What stood out in my mind afterwards was how much we felt like a family, how everyone fit together seamlessly. These kids BELONG with us, they aren't strangers anymore. They are part of the family now.

And therein lies the problem. Maybe Princess Jasmine felt guilty about having fun with us, without mom and dad, or maybe it felt disloyal to her birth family to feel so at home in her new family. Whatever the reason she was having some really Big Feelings that triggered her to go totally ballistic the next morning. In place of the happy Princess of the previous day was a defiant child hell-bent on causing disruption. Whatever I told her to do, she did the opposite. Whatever I asked her not to do, she did over and over again. As if that wasn't enough, she openly encouraged her siblings to join her on her rampage. In the end the price for our one day of perfect, easy fun on Thanksgiving was three days of utter misery for one and all.

The thing is, we have a rule at our house that says nobody in the family can use their feelings to hurt anyone else. Feelings need to be gotten out in a safe and appropriate way, and we have a list of strategies kids (or grown-ups) can turn to, some of which are write about it, draw about it, take a break, or ask for help. Well, last night Princess J and I decided the time had come to ask for help. Although we've talked through what happened this weekend and put it behind us, we know that the holiday season means more Big Feelings could crop up. We need to keep everyone safe if they do, so we called Mobile response, who sent a very friendly, knowledgeable person out to our house to help us come up with a Safety Plan we can refer to just in case. She will also connect us to some extra support to help us get through the Big Feeling laden weeks to come. She didn't even seem to mind when feisty kitten Luna jumped on her back.

Both Princess Jasmine and I felt really good about our choice last night. We've both learned so much over the past months about the power of feelings and how to handle them safely. Spending another Christmas without mom and dad is going to be hard, no matter what. We know there will still be Big Feelings and some sad moments, but we're ready. We're going to get through it, and we're going to do it together, because that is what family is for.