We went through the adoption process recently and, really, it wasn’t as difficult as some people have claimed. I mean, we didn’t have to complete a lengthy application or endure a background check worthy of the FBI. We were not subjected to fingerprint testing and we didn’t have to write dissertations about why we wanted to adopt. No money exchanged hands and no lawyers were involved in the process. All we had to do was say “yes” and promise to feed and water the thing. How tough is that?
And, yes, smarty-pants, it IS a living thing.
But it has neither two nor four legs. It’s…well, it’s a Ficus tree.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We had to take this adoption seriously. I mean, it’s a 9 foot, 20-year-old tree that has been lovingly cared for by his owner all these years. And the only reason it was put up for adoption is that his dad is moving and his new home doesn’t have the proper ceiling height to maintain the lifestyle to which Freddy has been accustomed. (Yes, I named our Ficus Freddy. Doesn’t everyone name their Ficus?) But it simply wouldn’t do if Freddy were suddenly forced to grow sideways because his new ceilings were only 7 feet high.
So, basically, our qualifications were that (a) we are willing to follow Freddy’s precise watering schedule, (b) we are financially sound enough to purchase Miracle-Gro and use it according to the manufacturer’s specifications, and, most importantly, (c) we have cathedral ceilings.
Naturally, any new adoption comes with it moments of concern. Will Freddy like his new living arrangements? Will he and Twinks and Jinx get along or, more accurately, will Twinks and Jinx leave Freddy the heck alone? And the scariest concern of all: Will Freddy freak out and start losing his leaves?
Yes, I worry.
Fortunately, we used the trusty iPhone compass app to determine that the window in front of which Freddy was lovingly placed faces east – the same direction Freddy faced in his old home. So hopefully, the same amount of sun will shine in his new environment and he will thrive without getting sunburnt.
Um, here’s a question: do they make sunscreen for Ficus trees?
Nevertheless, I think Freddy will be happy in his new home. I hope he doesn’t freak out and lose leaves, but I suspect he may shed a few to test me, just like a kid will test a new caretaker to see how far he can push the boundaries. He’ll see if I run for the water or Miracle-Gro before his regularly scheduled feeding and/or supplementation schedule.
Nevertheless, we will have to keep a close eye on Freddy over the next several weeks. We don’t want either of our felines demonstrating any new found tree-climbing abilities. We’ll have to discover if Freddy likes being talked to – and whose voice he prefers. I mean, far be it for me to talk to him if he’d rather Vince do the sweet-talking.
And, most importantly, we'll have to adhere to his feeding and watering schedule without variation. Because – Lord knows – I could not take the guilt if I either drowned or starved Freddy after his dad was able to keep him alive for 20 years.
I didn’t check the particulars, but I suspect this might have been an open adoption – and Freddy’s dad could pop by to visit him from time to time. And it’s not like Freddy is a generic goldfish that I could easily replace in the hopes that his former owner doesn’t realize that the original Freddy is no longer with us.
So we welcome our new addition. We will do our best to care for you, Freddy-the-Ficus. May you stay strong and healthy and live another 20 years. At least.
But there’s just one thing. You might want to consider sticking with your current height even if it means sucking in a little less of that Miracle-Gro. I mean, our ceilings are high…but they’re not that high. And, while I’m sure we’ll love you as if we’d raised you from a twig, we are not cutting any holes in the ceiling to accommodate you.