Some families share in the car. Somehow kids feel safe telling you about the bully at school or the boy they really like when their parent is facing away from them, but you’re both cocooned in the car.
In my family, though, it’s the bathtub.
Floating in a warm sudsy embrace, my kids have always seemed to feel safe releasing what’s bothering them into the steamy air.
Take this exchange between me and my youngest a few days ago, while she was soaking her scraped knees after a fall on the driveway.
Daughter: “Mom, who left me at the orphanage?”
Me: “I’m sorry, honey, I don’t know.”
Daughter: “Well, I want to know.”
Me: “I’m sure you do. I really wish I had more information to give you, but I don’t.”
A few minutes of silence, then limbs flailing through the suds, she sits up and says excitedly:
“Mom, just Google it! Write: ‘Who left Abby at the orphanage?'”
Me, trying to be gentle: “Remember, whoever left you won’t know your English name.”
Daughter subsides back into the bubbles, but clearly is not ready to give up, when with a look of fierce concentration on her sweet face she says, “Then why can’t we just get the orphanage Director to look them up?”
Sometimes being a parent is like getting punched to the gut. That sick feeling. The raw truth that you can’t protect your child from the big hurts in life hits you hard.
You think you’re ready.
International adoption isn’t for the faint of heart, after all.
You’ve been anticipating this sort of inquiry since those first meetings with social workers. Only when the child is real and yours all those carefully prepared, scripted answers fall flat. They are so damned inadequate to what’s needed that it’s laughable.
Yeah, Mom. Google that.