Hitchcock’s shower scene in Psycho is classic terror.
And because this is a family blog, I give you….the LEGO version.
Maybe this scene rings so true because we all have a bit of shower insecurity.
A shower once traumatized me…and it wasn’t even my shower.
Did you ever notice the words “adoption” and “insanity” have the same number of letters?
This is no coincidence.
It’s been four and a half years since the Wednesday our kids arrived.
Social Services lost our fingerprint results, delaying our approval to foster children. The family who’d housed our kiddos for eighteen months had enough chaos from the two darlings to last a lifetime. They declined to allow the children to stay longer, so the social worker found a foster family willing to provide care for a month, to give time for new prints.
The social worker ignored my suggestion to ask the FBI whether another copy of the results might be available. After we were re-printed, results appeared very quickly. A miracle, some might say. Or the social worker found them, misfiled…
The interim foster parent, a friend of mine, delivered the children on a mild Wednesday afternoon. At the time, we didn’t know that a social worker was supposed to be present to “facilitate” the situation. The kids had no idea what was happening. Neither did we.
My friend hugged me tight, tears in her eyes. (I was a little blurry, myself.) “So happy for you. Congratulations, Mama!” She smiled and drove away. Upon examining the memory, I think she might have been laughing.
Married ten years, Hubby and I had approximately 20 years of “kid experience” between us. Surely, we could handle this instant-family situation.
We’d spent the equivalent of two days with the kiddos, then 5 and newly-turned-7. They seemed to like us. This would be a breeze. They were so teeny and adorable.
Like baby jackals. Or, perhaps, hyenas.
Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.” That Wednesday evening foreshadowed the next two years of our lives with fair accuracy.
We took them to a church spaghetti dinner—I was thrilled at the idea of not cooking. They were thrilled at the prospect of a table full of desserts.
During the course of the meal, they ate bread, salad, pasta and meat sauce with their hands. Utensils seemed utterly foreign to them.
The urchins spilled six (count ’em, six) cups of pink lemonade—including a huge trip-fall-splash that involved about a third of the floor space—and the five year old ate a napkin.
Ate a napkin.
Well, ate might be slight exaggeration. He stuffed the napkin in his mouth, and despite (or because of) our exhortations of “Oh, honey, don’t…don’t do that.” “No, that’s not food. Take it out.” “Spit that out right now.” “SPIT. IT. OUT.” he continued to chew the paper with a “make me” glint in his sweet blue eyes.
Finally, Hubby said, in a display of fearless parenting,
“Fine. Swallow it. It’ll probably stop you up and you won’t poop for a week.”
It worked. The game was no longer fun. He deposited the mass of wet fibers onto the floor with swift efficiency.
We arrived home past bedtime, exhausted, but couldn’t skip bathing. The kids were literally covered head-to-toe in sauce.
Imagine all the cute photos of your friends’ infants eating pasta for the first time. Super cute, that tomato-basted babe. Fast forward five or seven years. No longer super cute.
I started the shower, made sure it was warm, then helped the 7 year old remove her saucy outfit and step into the tub. She gave me a little smile. Then…she collapsed, screaming, on the floor of the tub.
It felt a little like Psycho. (Sans the crazy guy.)
In my panic to find the problem, I left the shower running. “Are you hurt? Did you slip? Are you okay? What’s wrong?”
She continued to scream. Hubby stopped entertaining the five year old and cracked the door. “What in the world is happening in there? What did you do?”
More screaming. What did he mean by, “what did you do?” Clearly, what I did was lose my mind and bring an insane, scary, evil-spirit-possessed child into the house.
Finally, as the decibels reached somewhere between ear-piercing and drum-bleeding, I regained conscious control of my hands and turned off the shower. Screaming stopped. No explanation.
“Are you okay?” Nod. “Are you hurt?” Shake. “Did the shower scare you?” Another negative shake. “You have to get clean; will you take a bath?” Nod.
I filled the tub.
The child then washed the remnants of dinner from her hair, calm and apparently in her right mind.
We didn’t attempt another shower for the next year. The younger one spontaneously decided he’d rather shower. Not to be outdone by her little brother, our girl braved the shower the next night, with no complications. Oh, how I love sibling rivalry.
Approximately six hundred showers later, she sidled up to me, posture casual. “Hey, remember that time I was screaming like a crazy person in the shower, on our first night here?”
“Oh…um, I think I remember.” Yes, I remember. My eardrums experience a spontaneous tremor at the thought.
“Yeah, Mama…I was just freaked out about being in a new house. Sorry about that.” Freaked out, indeed…
“Oh, sweetie, don’t even worry about it. That was a long time ago. I barely even remember it.” Liar, liar, pants on fire…
I think there’s a reason God doesn’t let us see the future. If, that first night, I’d known what was coming in the next 24 months—that the shower scene was only a precursor—I might have bailed.
My mom says she doesn’t remember the hours of childbirth because the joy of seeing the baby’s face “erased the memory of the pain.” If you’re lucky, birth happens in hours (or if you’re unlucky, days).
Adoption, especially with behaviorally challenged kiddos, is a little different. Labor pains happen every day.
And believe me, I remember every single minute.
Good thing we like a little insanity around here.
If you’ve adopted, here’s the good news: you’re not alone.
More good news: you’ll survive. I promise.
*This piece is updated from a post written in September 2014.