I am sure that even if I read every page of all of the adoption advice books ever written, that these situations would not be covered. In just five months I have had some crazy experiences in bathrooms with my 9 year old son. His English is progressing quickly. My Chinese language acquisition has stopped entirely. Certainly the communication gap has made a lot of these things that I cal already look back on and laugh at…
First, in my bid for Adoptive Father of the Year award, I locked him in a bar bathroom in Beijing. Wait, let me explain. It was the tasting room at Slowboat Brewery. We had been to the tasting room a few days before for their great beer selection and wonderful burgers. We met the wife of one of the owners and their toddler was waddling around the place so it was family friendly. But on the night of the lock-in, it was a busy Friday evening. Jacob announced a need to go to the bathroom so he went into their single-toilet unisex bathroom. Moments later, a patron opened the door to see our scrawny kid plunked down on the rim. I hopped up from my seat and apologized to the guy and showed Jacob that I was locking the door and closed it behind me. A few minutes later I realized I had made a mistake. We spent the next 15 minutes having people that spoke Mandarin try to explain to him how to unlock the door, staff searching for the key, bartenders calling the owners, and pictures drawn and slipped under the door. No luck. He didn’t understand or couldn’t hear, no key existed, and the pictures must not have been enough. So I pulled a card out of my wallet and jimmied the door open in a few seconds. (Yeah, I should have started with that.) the door opened and he smiled at me. Then when he walked out, the entire bar cheered and clapped. So naturally, he broke down in tears. Check please.
Another instance was over the summer. He and I went into the restroom and of the two urinals, he ran up to the adult height one, leaving me the low one. Moments later I’m wiping a splash of his own urine from his eye.
Of course, collecting the stool sample is probably one of the funniest too.
For a while, if I asked Jacob to flush the toilet after he used it he would grab the toilet brush and get to work. This is probably because he’s not used to western toilets with standing water. Flushing a toilet as he is accustomed would have involved in a bucket of water being dumped on top of the squat toilet. Also, he may have been trained to scrub toilets for all we know!
Finally, over the summer we visited with an adoptive medicine specialist doctor. At one point during the conversation about his health she told me that I should explain to him how to clean under his foreskin. That is the kind of thing that I am sure that Google translate would have botched. So when an opportunity arose while he was showering I tried explaining using a lot of pointing, hand gestures and our limited vocabulary.
I’d love to know what he was thinking as I was pantomiming “cleaning under your foreskin.” I’m pretty sure that we’ll have to discuss this more later.