I'm worried about Adelaide.
Over the past year or so, I've noticed a certain... development. This development is both familiar and disturbing.
Any number of times in the recent past, Adelaide and I have been sitting together during the boys' naptime, and we'll hear a sound: the house settling, a loud clack from a toy in the washer, a large bug hitting the window. As soon as the sound registers, her head whips around, she whispers, "What was that?" and she gets that look on her face.
Or we'll get home, shut the door, and she'll immediately remind me to lock it. I always do, so I ask why she thinks we lock the door. She responds, "So that bad people can't come in our house," and again, that look on her face.
I've seen this face many, many times before.
The name of this face is paranoia.
I watched it creep over my sister's childhood face as she carefully peered into our bathroom mirror, perhaps searching for traces of the people that she was sure were behind the glass, watching her.
I've felt it steal across my own face when Derek is gone overnight and I booby-trap the door to the basement. Because what are the chances an intruder is going to break in through the front or back doors? No, odds are he'll force his way into the basement, find his way to the rickity stairs, and prey upon us via that route. I am the first to admit that this could be a lingering remnant of fear left over from hearing "Thump, thump, draaaag," one too many times in my childhood.
Oh, you're not familiar with it? Ask me to tell it to you sometime. It's a delightful confection of a story.
Paranoia and Rational are not synonyms.
Just last week, I was getting the children ready for the day, when I heard my cell phone ring downstairs. I looked at the clock: 7:30 am. I knew that it was one of two people calling at that time of day: either my Grandma, with some question or other, or my neighbor, reporting that she was at that moment watching a suspicious stranger breaking through the gate and into our backyard.
So that he could find the basement entrance, prowl to the stairs, and come up through the middle of the house.
It took a few moments for my mind to concoct this scenario, so I didn't actually get to the phone in time to answer it. But by the time my phone rang again, signalling I had a voicemail, I was flying down the stairs, anxious to have my fears confirmed. I keyed in the password to my voicemail account as I ran back up the stairs to begin herding my offspring into the frozen morning and escape the homicidal lunatic currently making his way across the basement floor. Just as I picked up Caedmon, however, I registered a new sound.
My Grandma's voice, coming from the receiver of my phone. She just had a question for me. Could I please call her back?
Adelaide's only hope is that the overwhelming sanity and rationality of Derek's genetic makeup can compensate for my unbalanced DNA.