Two Peas

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.

6 thoughts on “Two Peas

  1. I’m glad to hear the mr. was able to play with cricket so well. I can see how cricket would be drawn to him, especially if there are no other guys around. it’s very sweet and I think you’re right — the mr. has something to offer that no one else can.

    can I just say for the record that I think it’s very odd that they don’t let him chew on board books, or mash his food. I can understanding the not throwing things (except for a ball). but board books? come on. ((sigh))

  2. I hate it when people demonize “boy” play. That happens in our social world sometimes, too. What kind of message are we sending to our sons if we tell them that their natural incliminations are wrong? (I say this re., sons because I see the same families allow the behavior in girls because it’s about confronting gender roles really. So a rough and tumble girl is FINE but a rough and tumble boy? Hell no!)

    I think kids need rough and tumble in their lives, too. Pennie is rougher with Madison than I am (part of is that she’s stronger so she could lift her up and spin her for much longer than I could!) and Madison *loves* it. It’s something she was really annoyed about while Pennie was pregnant and had to stop doing it. And now Madison is too heavy to do as much of it but they can still wrestle.

  3. I remember the early years of being a parent and feeling that everything my kid did was a harbinger of future behavior and had to be treated with great seriousness; did I want to produce the hell-on-wheels kids I saw some of my friends raising? No. I probably went just as far in the other direction trying to make sure I didn’t. So, I can empathize with Ruth and Nora a bit about how it feels to think everything matters so very much, even though I never went so far as to limit throwing stuffed animals or mashing food(!) I am pretty sure they will lighten up tremendously as Cricket grows and they see the sky isn’t really falling, behavior-wise.

    The first time I saw my son’s birthdad in a photo, I was blown away by the sameness of their facial expression. It wasn’t just features, but the way they showed a particular emotion. Since they’ve never even met, the similarity must be genetic, but if I hadn’t seen his dad’s photo, I would never have known that so much of an expression could be. I have since wondered whether that similarity is painful for his birthmom, and whether it’s part of the reason she’s dropped out of receiving updates.

  4. I’m with Dawn about how “boyishness” is problematized (and I think it’s fair to write in a jargony way because it’s a jargony mindset that leads to this sort of thing). Ruth and Nora obviously have a lot of hangups (many of which do seem to be about being lesbian parents) and I hope you’re able to keep from projecting them onto yourself, as I know you have your own hangups about all this too! It sounds very difficult to navigate. I hope it hasn’t been too hard on the Mr. or yourself.

  5. It’s funny (we unforetunatelt have a closed adoption) I often look at my son and can see (what I imagine to be) his other parents. I wish I knew them or had at least seen pictures. Cricket is very lucky to have you all in his life.

  6. See, and here I hadn’t even thought of it as boyish behavior, perhaps because in our own house I’m the rambunctious one–I get weirdly meek around their family. Here’s hoping that you ladies are right, and that things are a little less micromanaged as Cricket gets older; this might be the #1 reason I want them to adopt again. 😉 And hey, the credit was extended (and increased, right?) even without my help, so maybe that will happen.

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