Hi Dr. Will.
Well Chris, this is a surprise. I didn't think we were going to be graced
with your presence any time soon.
I had a doctor's appointment in town, anyway, so I thought I'd stay around
for the boys' appointment.
any other reason?
What do you mean?
Well, you've called twice since the last appointment because the boys were
having trouble getting along. And, since Vin's playing with the blocks and
JD's sulking across the room, I'd say that my suggestions didn't help a lot.
Yeah, okay. I thought that Buck might need back up this evening.
I could have handled it.
I didn't say you couldn't. I just thought since I was in town anyway, I could
give you some support.
You weren't just in town anyway. You changed your appointment!
Uh, guys? Maybe the boys aren't the only ones who've had a rough week.
I guess you're right. Yeah, I did reschedule my appointment so I could be
here today. Not because I don't think you can't handle the boys on your own,
Buck. I'm just [sigh] I don't know.
Well, why don't you tell me more and let's see if we can't figure it out.
It's just really frustrating to get most of this stuff second hand. Buck's
done an awesome job of taking care of
all this. Not to mention a lot
of other things he's had to take over because of
I mean for me.
Because of you?
Slip of the tongue.
Or perhaps you're feeling guilty about Buck having to deal with so much of
the responsibility right now due to your accident.
Seems to me you've had to take up my slack a couple of times, Pard. Always
figured that was what friends did for one another. Unless you don't think
I'm up to the challenge.
You know better than that.
Chris, what I'm hearing from you is that you're feeling like you're letting
people down, especially Buck and the boys. And what I hear Buck telling you
is that he understands. Is that anywhere in the ballpark?
Is from my end, Doc.
Well, maybe that's part of it, but
look, you're here to work with the
boys, not me.
Not true. I'm here to assist the family, and the last I heard, you're part
of the family. What if I meet with you - both of you - after I meet with
Well, maybe just Chris
someone needs to stay with the boys.
I can get one of the interns to stay with them. They'll be in good hands.
I think that the doctor's telling you that your presence is requested, Pard.
Oh, wipe that grin off your face, Larabee, or I'll hide your crutches tonight.
[laughter] Okay, let's get the boys over here and get things started
Vin, JD, could you boys join us?
[pause and sound of movement]
Hi, Dr. Will.
Hi, Dr. Will.
I was just talking to your dads, and they think that this has been a pretty
hard week for all of you. Is that how you see it?
JD? What about you?
You don't think it's been a pretty hard week.
well, Vin, can you tell me a little about what's been going on?
I don't know. I was just trying to do my assignments for you and trying to
help Chris sometimes. But every time I tried to do something with JD, he
got mad at me.
Did not! [sound of chair crashing to the floor]
John Daniel Dunne!
Okay guys, let's calm down. Vin, why don't you come with me and we'll give
JD a little time to calm down?
I am calmed down! I want to go first!
Well, I'm sorry, JD, but Vin's going first this time. I think you need a
little time to calm down.
You're mean, Dr. Will! I don't need to calm down! I want to go first! [child
continues arguing as the adults confer]
Do you want me to have one of the other therapists come in to help out?
Nah, we'll handle it. To be honest he'll probably calm down as soon as you're
Dr. Will, if JD wants to go first
No, not this time, Vin. Come on, let's go to my office.
We'll see you all in a little while.
Will Lowery entered his office behind a rather
subdued Vin Tanner. The seven-year-old shuffled into the office and climbed
into the chair without asking. He slouched back in the seat; his gaze settling
on a point just beyond the therapist's left shoulder.
Settling in at his desk, the doctor said, "So,
tell me what's been going on since we last met."
Shrugging, Vin said, "I ain't for sure, Dr. Will.
JD's been gittin' mad at me for just 'bout anything lately. I think
When the little blond trailed off, Lowery prompted,
"You think what, Vin?"
In a faint, trembling voice, the child said,
"I think he hates me."
"Tell me what makes you think that, Buddy," the
therapist said gently.
"'Cause he's been hollerin' at me, an' he don't
even wanna sleep in th' same room with me. After Chris an' Buck goes t' bed,
he sneaks outta our room and goes t' sleep in th' den."
"So tell me more about how you're feeling about
With another shrug, Vin said, "I don't like it.
I don't want JD t' be mad or hate me or nothin'. I wish I knowed why he's
mad. I'd say I'm sorry for it."
"Have you asked him why he's angry?"
"Yeah," the child replied with a quivering sigh.
"What did he say?"
Sniffing now, the little blond said, "He jist
called me names, an' told me to leave 'im alone."
"I'm sorry, Vin," Will said sincerely. "I don't
think we'll be able to figure this out without JD's input though."
"We'll need to talk to JD, to see what he has
to say about everything. How about this
after I talk to JD we'll all
sit down, even your dads, and see if we can figure all this out together.
Would that be okay?"
The little boy shook his head. "He won't talk.
He won't tell Buck an' Chris what's wrong, neither. They asked him lots a
times, and he jist said he don't know why he's mad."
"Well, maybe that's right. Perhaps he doesn't
know why he's angry. But, perhaps if we all sit down together and talk it
out, we can help him figure it out."
"Okay." Little Tanner's expression told the therapist
he thought it as a waste of time.
Lowery knew that there was a chance that the
boy was right. He hoped not; hoped that they could help the younger boy process
his feelings. For the moment, however, he needed to focus on Vin.
"Getting back to you, you said you're confused
about how JD's been treating you."
"Yeah, I guess," the little blond said softly.
"But I don't think I c'n talk too much 'bout it 'til we talk to JD."
"Nope. Can we talk 'bout somethin' else?"
Suppressing a smile, the therapist said, "What
would you like to talk about?"
"My homework," Vin answered quickly.
"Okay, shall we start with the game?"
it didn't turn out very good," The
little blond loosed yet another sigh.
"No. I don't know why, Dr. Will, but it don't
seem like I c'n make up very good games no more. I tried, I really did,"
the little boy said plaintively.
"I'm sure you did," The therapist said gently.
"Why don't you tell me about the game, and we'll see if we can figure out
what the difference is between the old games and the new one." He had an
idea as to why, but wanted more information from his diminutive client.
They discussed the game, which turned out to
be a running game. While it was something that Vin was much better at, it
became clear that he had considered the younger boy's smaller size and had
tried to make it work for him. However an unforeseen problem had arisen when
JD had tripped and fell.
"Me an' Chris didn't mean t' laugh, Dr. Will,
but he jist looked awful funny layin' there. At first he was laughin', too,
but then he got mad cause we was laughin'. He said we was bein' mean to 'im
and went inside. He wouldn't hardly talk to us all night, even though me
an' Chris both told him we was sorry."
"Let me ask you this, Vin. Did he ever get angry
at you for the games you made up when you were living at the warehouse?"
Young Tanner considered the question, thinking
back on those days although it was always difficult. After a few moments
he said, "No, I can't remember him ever get mad b'fore."
"What do you think the difference was between
now and then?"
Heaving a frustrated sigh, the seven-year-old
said, "I don't know! If I knowed th' diff'rence 'tween then an' now, I'd
Softly, the therapist said, "Why did you make
up those games, Buddy?"
Frowning, Vin said, "So we'd have somethin' t'
"Was there any other reason?"
Shrugging, the little blond studied his shoes,
uncomfortable with the direction the conversation was going. He didn't like
to think about that time, and he didn't like it when Dr. Will made him talk
about that time. Folding his arms across his thin little chest, his frown
deepening, Vin tried to get the man to see that he wasn't in the mood to
But sometimes Dr. Will was just dumb.
The office was silent for nearly ten minutes.
From time to time the seven-year-old stole a look toward the therapist, his
frustration growing when Dr. Will simply sat there, watching him. Finally,
heaving an angry sigh, he said, "Yeah."
Fighting the urge to rub at the headache beginning
between his eyes, the doctor said, "Tell me more about that difference."
"Do I gotta?"
"I had t' make 'em up
'cause they keeped
us from gettin' hurt an' stuff."
"Oh, so those games kept you and JD safe?"
Rolling his eyes, the young blond said, "That's
what I said."
"They weren't just games then?"
"No, they was games, but
" Again he hesitated.
Another sigh. "I had t' make up them games 'cause
I didn't know how else t' keep JD safe an' I didn't want him t' be scared
scared as you were?"
Dropping his head the little boy nodded. Tears
fell, splashing on his jeans. "I was so scared, an' then I had JD t' take
care of an' I didn't know how t' do it. Everybody keeps sayin' how I was
brave an' did a good job, but I was jist scared, Dr. Will. I jist didn't
know what else t' do."
"Well, I know you've heard this before, but you
did do a very good job, Buddy. You did something that not even a lot of adults
could handle, and you did it well. And being scared is very understandable,
Vin. Anyone would have been scared in your position."
"Not Chris," the little boy argued.
With a compassionate smile, Will said, "Yes,
even Chris. You ask him, and see."
"I will." The little boy's voice held a tone
"Good. And I hope you'll share his answer with
me next week."
"So, you were scared and made up the games to
keep yourself and JD safe without scaring JD, too."
"Yeah." He was tired of discussing this; he wanted
to talk about something better.
"Are you scared as much now?"
"Y' mean livin' with Chris an' Buck?"
"No," he shook his head. "Sometimes I git a little
scared 'bout things, but not all th' time."
"So maybe your games aren't as much fun now because
you don't need them as much as you used to."
Vin studied the comment, frowning up at the doctor.
After a full minute he nodded, "You mean I can only make up games if I'm
"Well, sort of. I think that you know that the
games aren't as important now, so you don't work as hard on them. So, maybe
we can find another way to make them interesting to you again."
With a smile now, Vin said, "I'd like that, and
maybe JD won't be mad no more."
"Well, we'll have to see about JD, but would
you like to still make up games?"
"Yeah," the little blond head bobbed up and down.
"Okay, then, we'll keep working on them. So,
now, can we talk about your other homework?"
"'Kay." Vin slipped off the chair and pulled
a folded piece of paper from his pocket. Opening it, he smoothed it out and
held it out for the therapist to see.
"You wanna read it?"
"I'd really like to hear you read this one."
When the big eyes zeroed in on the tape recorder, he added, "We can turn
it off if you'd like. Or maybe you'd like to hear your voice and then if
you don't like the way it sounds, we can erase it?"
"You c'n do that?"
Vin's curiosity got the better of him. "Yeah,
will you help me with some of th' words?"
Vin looked down at the paper. He could do this;
it was just him and the doctor. Nobody else could hear him, or see him when
he got embarrassed. Taking a deep breath, he began to read the assignment.
He had different responses from every adult he had seen during the week.
They had each written their answer on the paper, and then told him what they
had written. He had heard the words again when Chris read over them with
him each night. The doctor hadn't said to do that, but his foster father
had wanted to see what everyone had written.
When he finished his slow, laboriously pronounced
reading of the list, he drew the first deep breath since he had begun. He
looked up at the therapist with a smile.
Seeing the victorious expression on the tiny
face, Will Lowery couldn't help but smile in return. "Good job, Vin. So,
do you know what all of those mean?"
"I think so. Everybody 'splained what they wrote,
an' then me an' Chris talked 'bout 'em every night."
"Could you tell me about them?"
I guess," Vin looked down at the
paper once more. He could do that; he could remember what people said.
"If you need help remembering, we can figure
it out, how's that?" Lowery could see the discomfort growing once more.
"'Kay," the little blond said in relief. "Well,
we did Buck's last week
"An' he said brave. He said it was 'cause I had
to be brave when we lived in th' warehouse, but that I was still brave. He
said I was brave when I broke my arm, and when Chris broke his leg, an' when
that troll tried t' hurt Unca' Ezra
and lots of other times, too.
"Chris said my son. He said one of the most special
things that ever happened to him was when I said I wanted to come live with
him. Dad said I
I brought sunshine back in his life. He got a funny
look on his face, Dr. Will, but he said it was a good thing."
"What do you think he meant Vin?" The little
boy's face flushed and his eyes sought out a place on the carpet. Cocking
his head the therapist tried to catch the child's attention. "Vin?"
Still clearly embarrassed, the child said, "I
think it means he was awful sad when Mrs. Chris and Adam went up t' heaven,
and when I came to live with him it helped him be happy again."
"That's certainly something to be proud of,"
the doctor said with a smile.
Vin smiled and nodded, but continued to blush
for a few minutes. He took up his explanation once more. "Miz Lottie said
loyal, 'cause she can always count on me t' help her out. Mr. B. said a hard
worker 'cause he said I always try to do my best in school. Mrs. R. said
a good student 'cause I like t' learn new things. Miz. Potter said kind hearted.
She said that's 'cause I
Seeing the little boy struggling with the
explanation, Lowery said, "Maybe she meant because you care about other people?"
Face brightening, Vin said, "yeah, and 'cause
I love animals, too." Checking his list again, he continued. "Unca' Ezra
said two things. Dad said that's 'cause he's got
kind 'a like he's got too many words in his head."
Will chuckled. "Okay, that makes sense."
"'Kay. Well, anyway, he said a gift an' my nephew.
I thought that was kind 'a strange, 'cause I ain't a present. But he said
that means I'm
well, he said I'm very special to him. An' he said he
had t' put my nephew down there, 'cause that was the best gift I could ever
"Unca' 'Siah said an in
"That's a big word, isn't it?"
"Yep. He said it means that since I always try
an' do my best, and 'cause I took care 'a JD, an' stuff like that. Unca'
Nathan said very intelligent. I thought that meant th' same thing as bein'
a good student, but he said no. He said that you can be intelligent even
if you don't go t' school. He said he means that I can look at a problem
and work real hard to figure out how t' solve it.
"Miz Nettie said two things, too. I thought that
was kind 'a funny, 'cause she's always sayin' Unca' Ezra talks too much.
Anyway she said I was a
" frowning, the little boy held the paper out
to the therapist.
"Resilient and a survivor."
"Yeah. Even Chris wasn't real sure what she meant
by that, so he called her an' asked her. She said it meant that no matter
what happened to me, good things an' bad things both, that I worked real
hard t' make th'
make th' best 'a things. She said I landed on my feet.
I still ain't real sure what that means, Dr. Will."
let's see. Okay, can you think of
an animal that lands on its feet no matter what?"
Little face scrunching in thought, Vin said,
"Yeah! A cat!"
"Right. Even if they fall off something upside
down, they flip over and land on their feet. Do you remember when you showed
me that picture of Eeyore on his head?"
"Yeah!" Vin's eyes sparkled as the connections
began to form. "He was on his head, but he was gonna figure out how to get
back on his feet."
"Right. Just like you. When things get turned
upside down, you work really hard to figure out how to get back on your feet."
"Okay, now I get it!"
"Good." Pausing to see if the child had anything
to add, but seeing that he was finished, the therapist said, "So, tell me.
How does hearing all of those things make you feel?"
Vin squirmed a little, the blush returning to
his fine features. He hunched up his shoulders, took a deep breath, and then
finally smiled. "I kind 'a feel funny 'cause everyone said all these really
nice things. But it's a good funny an' it makes me feel really, really good."
Grinning, Lowery said, "Good. That's the way
you should feel about yourself. So you know what?"
"If it's okay with you, I'd like to make a copy
of your list, but I want you to take it home. And I want you to read it every
night until you can recite the entire thing without looking at it."
"How come?" When the little blond nodded he said,
"Because if you memorize that list, it will be in your mind for the rest
of your life. Then if anyone ever says a bad thing about you, you can remember
these good things, and maybe you won't feel bad about yourself."
"Oh," Vin wasn't completely certain that he
understood, but maybe Chris could help him figure it out later. Chris was
good at helping him figure things out when other grown ups confused him.
"Okay, since our time is about up, shall we look
at the picture you chose last week?"
Pulling the picture out of the folder, Lowery
held it out for his young client. When the little boy took it, he said, "So,
can you tell me about this picture?"
"You said I was s'posed to pick out a picture
that made me think of me, now."
"Right. Can you tell me more about choosing this
"'Kay. Well I picked it mostly 'cause it looks
like he's got a cowboy hat on. That's what Dad calls me sometimes, Cowboy.
And he' smilin', so he's happy."
When the little boy's explanation ended, Will
said, "What do you think he's happy about?"
well, I think he's probably happy 'cause
he has a fam'ly now, an' he's got a good place t' live, an' lots 'a people
that love 'im now."
"I think those are all very good reasons to be
Smiling broadly, the little boy said, "Me, too!"
Deciding that nothing else was needed in that
brief discussion, Lowery said, "Okay, so would you like to pick out another
picture for me?"
Handing over the folder, he said, "Okay, I'd
like you to find a picture of who you think Vin Tanner will be in the future."
"You mean like growed up?"
"Maybe, or maybe just next week or next month.
When you look at the picture, you think about who you want to be."
"Okay," he was still uncertain, but decided that
the doctor knew what he was talking about. Slowly he began to look through
the pictures. After a few minutes of searching he said hesitantly, "Dr. Will?"
"Uh huh?" The therapist was scribbling down a
few notes as he waited for the young boy to make his decision.
"I can't d'cide." He held up three different
Lowery smiled, seeing that the little boy had
gone with the future in aspect of 'What I want to be when I grow up'. Never
an easy choice for a young person. "Well, why don't we just put all three
of them in your folder?"
Smiling with relief, Vin said, "okay!"