I'll never forget the day I told my cousin I was adopting a child. Her response caught me totally off guard. She first asked "When are you planning to retire?" Then she threatened me with death. Not as in, "I'm going to kill you." It was more like, "It's too late for you to start parenting because you're going to die."
It's the sort of thing I might have ignored from a passing stranger, but this was someone I looked up to as a big sister. I had always known her to be oddly critical. She was the kind of person who would tell you your nail polish didn't look good on your hands, or she might criticize your artwork because it had a white person instead of a black person in it. But I had grown to ignore her dark side and concentrate on her kinder moments, like the time I was 4 years old and she drove me from Lewisville to Hope, Arkansas, to go swimming for the first time ever. And the time she made me a long satin dress so I could march in her wedding. We looked more alike than sisters and I adored her.
If you have ever been a new or expecting parent, you have probably experienced the temporary insanity that comes over people who are hearing the news for the first time. I'm talking about the psychosis that causes people to say odd and offensive things about you and your child. They may call into question the child's parentage: "That baby doesn't look anything like you. Are you sure it's yours?" Or they act as if babies come with exchange policies: "You had another girl. Didn't you want a boy?" Or they are downright rude: "A baby? Can you afford that?"
Adoptive parents are not immune to this syndrome. When my husband and I announced that we were adopting a child, reactions varied from sheer disbelief --"Stop kidding around; you know you don't want children." -- to the incredible --"You're adopting? Can't you get one of your sisters to have a baby for you?"
The number of times a day I am required to put my hands in shit is staggering.
We have a toddler and a cat. The toddler thinks the cat is a dog. The cat thinks the toddler is a monster. They are afraid of each other. Neither is potty trained.
A diaper change is like a surgical procedure involving precise preparation. Remove the subject's shoes, street clothes, and anything that might possibly get contaminated. All items needed for the procedure must be lined up in easy reach. A fair amount of hand scrubbing will be involved.
Hal Hutchison, M.Ed.
Hal Wofford Hutchison, M.Ed., is a former columnist, writer and editor for the Arkansas Democrat and the Arkansas Gazette newspapers. She has also been a secondary educator, and a university counselor and administrator. She lives in Little Rock, Ark., with her husband of 23 years and their daughter.