All I Have to Do

I had a dream about Cricket the other night. It was a few years in the future—he was five or six—Ruth was in the hospital, and Nora was out of the picture. Ruth had asked us to look after Cricket while she was hospitalized, and the whole dream was just practical details and awfulness; we took him to visit his mom every day, but people who saw us assumed that he was ours. And even though we didn’t want to explain a dozen times every day, we had to, because he was right there, paying attention. I felt like a freak, and so stressed out, and I caught myself wondering why Ruth had sent him to us instead of to her best friend (and adoptive mother of four). We had to take him to the hospital every day, because his mom was sick and that’s scary and he needed to see her—but I dreaded having to run the gauntlet of well-meaning questions every damn day. At one point, Cricket started to cry, but in fact it was Joey, and I woke up.

This is maybe the least mysterious dream I have ever had. I worry about what the future holds for Cricket; I dread having any adoption-related conversations with him, and they are inevitable. And yet, as straightforward as it was, I still find it upsetting to remember or think about that dream. So I’m writing about it. Even in the dream, I was incredibly self-conscious about having Cricket and Joey attending to my explanations and evasions. Happily, the Possum was still too little to care.

I’ve started toying with the idea of emailing Ruth—not soon, because I’ve got years before this will come up (right?)—and saying “Listen, when Cricket starts asking when he was placed and you think he might want to ask me, I need a heads up ahead of time. I think we should talk together about what I might tell him, because I’m not comfortable just bluntly telling Cricket; I’d rather not talk about it until he’s an adult, but I know that isn’t fair to him. But it’s not an easy thing for an adopted kid to hear, I think, and I’d like to work it out with you ahead of time.” My strong preference would be to leave the answering of that question to Ruth, but I know that isn’t fair to Cricket. We’ll work something out.