One of the stranger things about our visit last week was watching Ruth watch my husband and Cricket together. It feels like, for Ruth and Nora, there are a few things about Mr. Book that are hard: Cricket looks very like him; my husband is the only father, if you care about that sort of thing; I actually named Cricket after his birthdad, although of course they changed his name; and finally, Cricket seems very drawn to his birthdad. On Friday, Cricket ran to him over and over again—he would run to my husband and throw his arms around him. He did not do this with me. When we went out, he was holding Mr. Book’s hand and Nora’s for awhile, and he kept looking up at the Mr. with this look of unbelievable joy. I don’t by any means think that “every child needs a mother and a father,” or any such heterosexist thing, but it already seems as though my husband has something to offer Cricket that no one else can.
Mr. Book and I talked about this stuff on our walk that day—our visit intermission—and he seemed sort of surprised, but mentioned that he had noticed that Ruth seemed slightly disapproving as she watched him play with Cricket. Some of that might be that he’s playing with Cricket a bit more boisterously than they do; their favorite game on Friday involved tossing small plush toys into the air simultaneously and then laughing and laughing. Cricket is not allowed to throw things—he’s also not allowed to mash his food or chew his board books—Ruth is working hard to keep him well-mannered and thoughtful, albeit with a slightly different sense of priorities than we might. We’re more likely to allow noisy or messy experimentation. But I do think part of the odd look in her eye was about possibly seeing present and future Cricket sitting side by side on her living room floor, and not being part of that.
Ruth and Nora talk to us sometimes about what Cricket might have gotten from his biological parents, but they almost always compare him to me. It seems like the less obvious choice; he does look like both of us, but more like the Mr. He has one expression that is a copy of one of mine (my husband calls it the “What you do?!” look—it is deep skepticism and mild disapproval, and we got to see it on the visit), but his smile is my husband’s. He has moments of my shyness and uncertainty, but spends most of his time being outgoing and charming in the way that my husband is. He has my husband’s eyes and his sweaty feet. Ruth and Nora look more to me for an example because they know me better, and because we have baby pictures of me but not the Mr., but Cricket seems to me so like his biopop.
I don’t think of biology as a magical or overwhelming thing—I think Cricket will have many things in common with Ruth and Nora, that he’ll pick things up from them, follow their lead. But I’m more and more starting to think that I’ll see Mr. Book in Cricket forever, which I (perhaps stupidly) hadn’t expected as a pregnant lady.