Really. No. Idea.
For years, it was my mantra whenever we went out in public. “I’ll keep that in mind.” Sometimes, it is the expression that still saves me. I was young and naive when I started this journey as an adoptive mum. I didn’t yet know how to ignore the ignorant and didn’t want to offend the well-meaning.
There were so many things that they didn’t know, but the comments always came. From family or from strangers in the grocery store.
Don’t you think that child is too old for a bottle?
Shouldn’t he be potty-trained by now?
Maybe he’s just tired.
Can you please quiet him down?
What I wanted to say was, "No. No, I don't think he is too old for a bottle. And I don't care if I have to change nappies a little while longer. And, yes, I do think he is tired because you don't have any idea how bad the nightmares get. And no I can't quiet him down. Or maybe I can, but I won't, because his voice deserves to be heard, even when it is an angry voice."
What I did instead was try to smile as politely as I could as their comments made me question my own judgment.
Eventually, the realisation that God and a whole team of social workers chose me instead of them for this job - the job of his forever mum - gave me the confidence to dismiss them.
"I'll keep that in mind."
Do you know what else I will keep in mind?
By the time my son was a year old, he had three different mothers.
By the time he was two, he had gone from a homeless shelter in one state to an apartment in another, and several houses and families in between.
So, if it's all the same to you, I'm going to let him keep drinking out of that bottle a little while longer, and I'm going to hold him while he does it. I don't particularly care if you think that is strange because he doesn't fit in my arms horizontally. Because he is still only two or three years old and the bottle is a symbol of part of a childhood lost and the new attachments we are trying to form. It brings comfort and familiarity and tells him that we, this new family in this new place, will take care of him in the way he deserves.
I'll keep that in mind when it is three a.m. and I am still awake because the nightmares and the rage have kept a toddler up all night, and someone has to keep an eye on him. Someone has to be there to teach him to hit the beanbag chair, or the pillow, or the mattress instead of punching holes in the wall or hurting the people around him. When you tell me I look tired and I should "try to sleep when the baby sleeps," I will just sigh and say, "I'll keep that in mind." I will not bother telling you that those comments, which I know are made with the best of intentions, are literally impossible instructions to follow.