Foster Care

The Tantrum Surprise

A New Holiday Tradition, 2019

My kids are comedians, I tell ya.

Yesterday I got home from work sometime after five. The house was clean and dinner was almost ready, and everyone seemed pretty happy. I chatted with the kids that were hanging out with me as I put my coat and bags away, trying to catch up with everything that had happened that afternoon.

I decided to go into the closet to hang up earrings and boots and all the things that I had left laying around for days that needed attention.

From the closet I could hear screaming downstairs. I knew it was Little Buddy. I waited a minute to try to decide what kind of screaming it was, just playing and tickling from the older kids, or was it a tantrum? I could not tell, and I listened a minute longer to see if I could figure it out. Sometimes I try to let the older kids handle the younger kids so they can understand relationship consequences from other kids, not just mom and dad.

Then I heard Abby scream, “Mom! Dad! I need you!” The blood started racing through my heart as I threw my earrings on the bathroom sink and literally bolted down the stairs. I followed the screaming, trying to brace myself for what I was about to see. What could’ve happened? Little Buddy had been doing so good, how could such a horrible tantrum be happening right now? My mind had a million thoughts, what I would say, how I would act, how this would affect the rest of our night, the paperwork, the consequences…

I stopped running and stood still in the middle of the living room. All the kids were sitting on couches or waiting around the corner, not moving. Little Buddy was standing with his back against the far wall, smiling as he made a fake crying and screaming noise. Abby was smiling and laughing, right in front of the Christmas tree that was now assembled and lit without me lifting a finger or even knowing…

The kids could not contain themselves. “Surprise!” they shouted, laughing and giggling and falling all over the floor. “We wanted to surprise you!”

Oh my God did they surprise me.

I hugged Abby and thanked her for the treat. I made Little Buddy come over and hug me for a long minute, telling my heart to calm down. Again and again.

As I sat at the dinner table a little while later, waves of anxiety would hit me where I had to go back to that moment and tell myself that his screams were just a joke, it was nothing bad, only good…

What a good coach I am to myself.

So this morning, I sit down here in the quiet and enjoy the surprise for a moment, reminding my mind and heart it was all a good joke.

Over and over again.

My tree is up, my kids are safe, Little Buddy has become a part of the joking antics, and the holidays are officially upon us.

It’s the stuff that dreams are made of.

Not the bad dreams, either.

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