People who have built their families through adoption, like my wife and I, know how important it is to use the right words, especially when you’re attempting to use positive adoptive language. Birthparents make an adoption plan or choose adoption. They don’t abandon, surrender, or release the child.
Words can mean different things to different people, however. No sooner had I mastered finding the right words to talk intelligibly about adoption than it was time for me to start purchasing baby products for our daughter. Unfortunately, like millions of clueless males, I wasn’t always on the same page as my wife.
On one occasion, my wife asked me to go to the mall. “Please pick up a Mei Tai for the baby.”
Why would a newborn need to drink a cocktail at such a young age, I wondered to myself?
Only later, after I was thoroughly embarrassed, did I learn that a Mei Tei is also a modern version of a two shouldered baby carrier that is strapped around one’s waist.
Another time, my wife said we were running low on venting systems. I immediately proceeded up the stairs, in the direction of our attic.
“Where are you going?” she asked, incredulously.
“Don’t you want me to check our roof vents?” I answered, attempting to be both pleasant and helpful. “To see if the air filters are working properly?”
After my wife finished laughing so hard that tears rolled down her face, she once again corrected me. Now I know that venting systems are those plastic doohickeys with the three triangular shaped holes that you put those rubber thingamabobs on. You know, the ones with the two thingamajigs protruding from the center that are used on baby bottles to help facilitate digestion. (She explained they’re good at reducing the risk of ear infections, too.)
Then there was that weekend my To Do list included buying a new pacifier for our daughter. Not wanting to take anything for granted, I boned up in advance on all the possible types available. My wife seemed genuinely impressed as I rattled off all the brands and manufacturers I had painstakingly researched.
“Looks like you’ve really done your homework on binkies,” she said, smiling in admiration.
“A binkie?” I asked, somewhat puzzled by the nomenclature she used to describe the item. See, when a rabbit is happy, its expression of joy is commonly called a binky.
My wife sensed that I was confused. “What’s wrong?,” she inquired.
“Listen, we are talking about Soothies, right?
By now, my incredibly tolerant, patient spouse knew that I was a bit slow on the uptake. It’s not that I feigned innocence well. More often than not, I just didn’t get it. Not because I’m necessarily stupid, but because the lingo of buying infant products was so foreign to me.
Of course, over time, I eventually got with the program. When we needed to purchase a wearable blanket that reduces the risk of reinhaling carbon dioxide, which is widely believed to be a possible cause of SIDS, I didn’t start checking out Hacky Sacks or gunny sacks. Nope, I wasn’t gonna be a Sad Sack. Our daughter goes to bed each night in a quality Sleep Sack, thank you very much.
Happily, the days of me venting about my ignorance about venting systems are a distant memory. So bring on that Mei Tai! And put some extra crème de almond in it!
Image by: T. Rolf, SXC
Douglas Gladstone is a journalist by training who now works as a public information officer for a governmental agency. He and his wife, Karen, reside in New York and are the proud parents of a daughter, Jovie, who was born on the anniversary of the day they met.