Oh, my goodness. The visit ends in the morning; Ruth and Cricket have been here for two full days. It’s been a discouraging time, which isn’t what I wanted or expected to be writing—and I want to start with an acknowledgement of how many hard things Cricket is dealing with right now.
- His moms are splitting up. They’re also having him spend time with the new people that they’re dating.
- He’s been talking a lot about the adoption, I guess, and not in a happy way—Ruth told me the night before they arrived that he’s being saying a lot of “sad or angry” things about being adopted recently.
- There seem to be a number of rules around Cricket’s diet that appear complicated from the outside, at least; the upshot is that he didn’t eat much at all while he was here, except once or twice when I set crackers out for Joey and Cricket frantically ate all of them in an attempt to keep them from Joey.
- Cricket was in a strange house, sleeping in a strange bed. That’s hard for me, so I can only imagine how much harder it must be for a three year old.
- He clearly saw himself as in competition with Joey, which is really too bad, since jealousy is unattractive on anyone, and toddlers aren’t exactly subtle.
I’m going to begin at the end: tonight, Joey had finally just had too much, and was reduced to a weepy, screaming mess at bedtime. There was a trajectory that in hindsight I wonder whether I could have done more to affect: early Thursday he was curious about Cricket and slightly standoffish; later on Thursday he was following Cricket around and trying to join his games but not being pushy about it, but Cricket would push him away, hard, if Joey got too close; Thursday night, he was trying to start games with Cricket, culminating in him running at Cricket shouting “Gickle, gickle (tickle, tickle)!” and trying to tickle Cricket, who shoved him away and shouted at him; early Friday, Joey was following Cricket around and mimicking him, and got slapped for his trouble; most of Friday, Joey was still interested in Cricket but quick to give up when shoved and play by himself; late Friday afternoon, Joey had started actively avoiding Cricket, because the shoving and the shouting just didn’t let up; and Friday night, realizing that Cricket was still here (Cricket took a nap, and while he was down, Joey was so happy—we made jokes, Mr. Book and I, about his being happy that Cricket was gone, but I suspect that was the literal truth), he just lost it, wanted us both to stay with him, screamed and cried and just seemed desolated. We spent a long time with him past normal bedtime, having milk and crackers and listening to music and just spending time together as a threesome, and he slowly regained his usual good cheer.
Cricket is very difficult right now. I had worried that my desire to protect Joey would be a problem, but didn’t understand just what an enormous problem it would be for both me and Mr. Book—Cricket consistently tried to keep all of Joey’s toys away from Joey, tried to keep all food away from Joey, and shouted at and used force with Joey whenever Joey got too close to him. I don’t know how much we could have intervened; I felt as though I was on thin ice when I occasionally caught Ruth’s eye with a concerned look. We tried to distract Joey and comfort him, we made sure that he had time alone with us as well as things that he particularly likes and doesn’t get every day—and yet, and yet. Cricket is very difficult right now.
Before he went to bed, Cricket was talking to Mr. Book about when he visits again, and telling us that the footstool in the bathroom is his, so make sure to have it here when he visits again, and so forth. I was glad to hear it, and glad that he wants to come back—because as hard as this was, I don’t want him to know how hard it was for us. It’s hard enough being three without having to carry that.