The captain - haircutIn four days, we will celebrate two years of The Littles – our 3 youngest – coming to live in our house. In many ways, it seems as like a very, very long time, and in others, it seems like yesterday.

This little guy, whom we call the Captain, was just shy of 3 years old when they came. He was not speaking at all back then, save three things from “Dora the Explorer.” He grunted and cried to communicate. He’s not speaking at age-level now, but last night, he asked a question in a perfectly executed seven-word sentence. That’s huge.

Of the three, he has been the most challenging, no doubt because he’s had the most loss.  We were his sixth move. Sixth. So let me go back to the part where I said he wasn’t even 3 yet. It breaks my heart to think of it.

He has attachment disorder, obviously. It took several months for him to show signs of attachment to me. Given all he’s been through, it hasn’t been that hard, really. He used to have long and severe tantrums lasting 40 minutes or more. Now he might wail out a single note, but then he can calm himself. He is still very rigid and unhappy about changes in schedule or routine, but he can get through them now. He was a very serious boy at first, but he smiles readily and laughs heartily now. He is very loving but a little reticent still about too much physical contact.

Can you tell from this photo that he is looking right in my eyes? This is natural to him now, but it was very, very foreign when he first arrived. He had his head down most of the time; he was fearful of eye contact. Now I see those beautiful brown eyes all the time!

We called him the Captain when they  first arrived because he busied himself shepherding his two younger siblings around. He really likes to take charge. I think that is a function both of being the oldest (of his group) and attachment disorder. Life feels safer when you have the illusion of being in control. I think he’s more of a “First Mate,” now.  Maybe I should change his nickname. He is increasingly willing to partner with me in helping the little ones; he is slowly coming to accept that we are the adults.

I love my “First Mate” so much. I can’t imagine our life without him!