I love this picture of our 4-year-old, fondly referred to as the Captain. It’s not just that he looks so cute in his costume; it’s this particular expression that shows he knows he’s cute. I love this because it is new… and thrilling.
The Captain and his siblings have been with us for about 20 months, and for most of that time, “tin man” was an apt representation of him. He had two main modes: fit and not-fit. The rest of the time, he face was, well, placid. We could see in his eyes that he was “in there.” We got occasional flashes of smiles, many of those directed at his siblings. He was soldier-like in his interactions with others.
But slowly, slowly, this cute, loving boy has emerged. His smiles have become more and more frequent. When he arrived, he would not let me hug or kiss him; now when the school bus arrives, he reaches out to me for the hug, his smiling face upturned for a kiss. He would not dream of leaving me without a hug and kiss.
At school, they still see a lot of “tin man:” his fit and not-fit modes. But slowly, even there, his spirit is beginning to shine through. As we work with his teachers to get the fits under control, there is more room for his personality to emerge. It is truly a beautiful thing to behold.
I think these breakthroughs are due to one thing, and it is the simplest and hardest thing to provide: love. Slowly over the months, I’ve encouraged him to sit on the same sofa as me, then within a few feet, then next to me and eventually, on my lap. I have cut up his food and fed him lots of bites. Every time he’s requested a bite of my food or a sip of my drink, I’ve said yes. I have a special song for him, and I sing it several times a week. We play games that require us to touch each other’s faces. We watch very little TV and have a LOT of face time. In the beginning, I endeavored to make eye contact with him every 3 minutes while he was awake. It was a challenge, but it has paid off.
I hope this has encouraged you. I hope, if you are struggling for a breakthrough, that you will be willing to keep struggling. I hope you can see in this flirty, open-hearted little boy that progress is possible. Never give up.