We’ve had rainy days on an off all week, nothing torrential, just warm summer rain.
I knew from fellow adoptive parents that rain storms, especially thunderstorms, could be hard on Angelina and Roman. When the first storm blew in I kept a quiet eye on Angelina especially. Her face matched the sky, bright when the sun shone, dark when the clouds rolled in. As the wind picked up her nervous rocking became a constant motion, when the drops descended she become a ball of anxious energy wheeling her chair from one window to the next, watching the rain with shoulders hunched and brow furrowed.
Odin, our dog, chose this time to let me know that natural was calling and could not be denied, so I let him out in the rain. Dell and Kitty slipped out with him and ran out to the puddles. Behind me in the hallway I heard a quick intake of breath, Angelina was right there watching in horror.
“OUT OF THE KITCHEN!” she screeched, her voice on the edge of hysteria, “OUT OF THE KEEEEEEETCHEEEEEENNNNN”
That’s a phrase she picked up pretty quickly since being home; she hears me say it to Odin all the time and she now uses it in a myriad of ways. This time she was yelling to her sisters, her terrified eyes darting between me and her siblings. She was scared, but of what I’m still not sure, maybe she thought they were doing something forbidden and everyone would suffer the consequences, maybe she was scared the rain would hurt them.
I stood in the doorway, two delighted children frolicking to my right, one traumatized child shaking to my left. Should I call in the two kids from outside to try to calm Angelina’s fears? But wouldn’t that reinforce the fear? Should I carry Angelina out into the rain to show her it couldn’t hurt her? Yeah, that’s a terrible idea.
On a whim, I smiled what I hoped was reassuring smile and walked out into the rain. I calmly walked the full length of the front walkway before turning around. Angelina was in the doorway, her face confused but curious. Good, the horror wasn’t as visible. I turned around and walked to a corner of the church office where the water overflows the gutters and I stood smack dab in the center of the heaviest waterfall I could find. Slowly I turned around again to see how Angelina was doing. She hadn’t moved from the doorway but her jaw had dropped open and her eyebrows were trying to jump off her forehead.
“MAMAAAA?!?” she called. I waved to her, hesitantly she waved back.
By this point I was drenched, I mean really soaked through, I threw my head back and laughed. I ran to a puddle and jumped in it, I ran to the next one and sat right down in the center, splashing with all my might. Della and Kitty were delighted by my strange antics, usually Dad is the one doing these silly things, and suddenly there was Angelina by my side lifting her face to the open sky, opening her mouth to the raindrops and laughing, laughing at the rain, laughing at her silly mama.
At this point Dad stepped out of the office for a break so I handed the baton of silly parent off to him and went inside to ready the house for a bunch of wet kids. Eventually when everyone came in they were met with a pile of towels by the front door, dry clothes, and hot chocolate. You cannot play in the rain without having hot chocolate afterwards.
For the rest of the week when the rains rolled in Angelina would still rock her anxious rock as the pressured changed outside, but she didn’t hesitate to dash out when her siblings ran for the puddles. Sometimes, instead of playing outside, I’ve called for a rainy day movies (which also calls for hot chocolate) and Angelina has snuggled on the couch with her sisters soaking up My Neighbor Totoro, soaking up the feelings of contentment and peace that come from knowing you are safe, finally, surrounded by a family who loves you.