Shoes Redux

We arrived in the Emerald City in time to have dinner with Ruth and Nora: “It’s Shabbat,” Cricket explained. “Mama lights candles. I . . . do not light them.”

Joey was transfixed by the sung blessings; he is usually quiet and attentive when there is music to be heard. I don’t know whether he likes it, but he listens. Despite it being past his bedtime, he watched Ruth singing (beautifully) with great interest, then calmly noshed on falafel.

In the middle of dinner, Cricket announced out of the blue: “I’m adopted.” This is apparently the first time he has said such a thing unprompted. He was looking at me, and at Joey, and at the Mister; Ruth says that he’s really starting to work everything out, and that he talks about us all the time. “Mama Susie wasn’t ready to be a mama,” he told her on Tuesday. Two and a half seems awfully young to be figuring all of this out, and it makes me sad to hear some of the things he says. The saddest, I think, was something he said on his way home after our last visit. Ruth says that before that visit, he didn’t really understand that Joey’s birthparents and his parents were the same people—seeing us together that day, watching me mother Joey, apparently made it click for him. Cricket talked all the way home, nonstop, and then after hours of chatter threw his head back and said sadly: “I am a baby! I want to nurse!”

I didn’t know that Cricket talks about us. I don’t know how much of it is because of his age, how much is because of Joey, and how much is the fact that Ruth and Nora are back in the pool—surely he has had some conversations about a sibling coming to live at his house. More than that, I don’t know what to do. Certainly it seems like a lousy time to be moving away: not that we can do anything about that. All I can think to do is to be available when he wants to get ahold of us, and to be consistently warm and keep our promises. Mr. Book and I are impossible to get on the phone; our ringer is never on, and even if we see it flashing, we generally won’t answer. But while we were on the train, Ruth called: Cricket was asking how long it would take us to get there. We missed the call (Joey wrangling), but as soon as possible I snapped a picture of us in our seats and sent it back, letting him know that we were underway. The Mister hasn’t yet adjusted to the idea that we have to answer when it’s Cricket, but we have to answer when it’s Cricket. If he reaches out, he needs to be able to find us.

For more than a year, Mr. Book and I had the impression that Ruth and Nora would prefer that we quietly go away, leaving our contact information in case they needed it. That is no longer true; they seem to believe that we are important to Cricket, and not just in a “once upon a time” kind of way. That picture is of their front hallway, and one of those pairs of shoes is the pair I gave Cricket. I caught my breath, seeing that.