Once Selma had an informational talk with me about when I went to the bathroom. I was to use one or two pieces of toilet paper. Though I remember I was quite young, I knew in my bones she was telling me something she would not do. Every once and a while I had some level thoughts such as, she can’t really believe that herself, or can she. Maybe she was just delusional, but no, she was a normal mother to her own children. I was trying to make some sense out of this conflicting treatment.
Bath time was a particular stressful activity, usually when no one was around Selma would force us to take freezing, cold baths. Selma would even make us go as low as we could to get down under the freezing cold water. She would wash our hair by holding our heads under water until we would be gasping for air. Then she would accuse us of being overly sensitive, and then ridiculed us both for being so dramatic like there was something wrong with us that we could not breathe. We were made to lay there in the freezing cold water for hours. Adrian and I took baths together until we were too big to fit in the tub together. We were never allowed to have towels or to use hot water.
Of course Selma’s children took the traditional regular warm relaxing bath. Once I sneaked into their bathroom as the water was draining from one of my half-sister’s bath. It was really warm and I remember thinking, “How lucky they are to be able to take a warm bath.”
When we exited the bathtub we were made to wear wet t-shirts. Selma would put our shirts in the sink and run cold water over them or even add ice cubs under the pretense that we were so hot blooded. It did not matter if it was summer, fall, winter, or spring. Imagine being told by Selma that she was doing you a favor, because it was so hot and she was cooling us off. In reality, we were always cold and shaking. Quite frankly, I’m surprised we didn’t catch pneumonia. In our room we had to sit under opened louvered windows even in the dead of winter. We never had blankets on our beds. When it rained we never had a jacket, we were told to run in between the drops and that we would not melt. After all Selma was once again doing us a favor by looking out for us.