Lowery had escorted Vin back to the playroom
and had quickly seen that JD was still struggling with his anger. Excusing
himself, he checked in with one of the interns, asking her to stay late if
he needed her assistance. Getting her agreement he stopped by the office
and let the office manager know that he'd more than likely be working late.
That taken care of, he returned to the playroom.
A few minutes later, a reluctant JD Dunne marched
ahead of him down the hallway.
Entering the office, Will saw that the five-year-old
was standing rigidly beside the chair he typically climbed into. As he settled
into his own chair he said, "Would you like to sit down?"
Well, it might not be a long session after all.
It didn't look as if his normally chatty client was going to be very talkative
during this visit at least. "Well, all right. What would you like to talk
about this afternoon?"
"Nothin'," the little brunet grumbled.
Pausing only briefly, the therapist said, "Well
then, can I take a guess at what feeling we could talk about today?"
"Don't care," the tiny brunet shot a glare toward
the man. He didn't like Dr. Will anymore. He didn't like anybody anymore.
Everybody was just stupid. Especially Vin and especially Dr. Will.
"All right." Lowery pretended not to see the
emotions boiling through the little boy. Instead he said evenly, "Well, I
think that we could probably talk about being angry today."
Young Dunne stared at the man. He started to
say 'well, duh', but Buck told him that wasn't nice. Instead he just stood
there and stared.
"So, what do you think, would that be something
we could talk about today?"
Blowing out a breath in exasperation the little
boy said, "Whatever."
"You know this would go a lot better if we both
"Don't feel like talkin'."
"How about drawing a picture?"
Leaning forward, Lowery said, "You know, buddy,
whatever it is that's bothering you isn't gonna go away if you keep it all
bottled up inside."
"Ain't nothin' botherin' me."
Deciding to try a different ploy the therapist
said, "Well I'm very glad to hear that. So
what should we do? You don't
feel like talking, and you don't feel like drawing
hey, I know. What
if we play a game? You'd have to talk a little bit, but not too much. How
does that sound?"
JD shrugged, which Will decided was about the
closest he would get to an agreement with the child. Going to his bookcase
he retrieved his "Angry Monster Machine" game, setting it up on the table
in the corner of his office. The little brunet came over slowly, standing
beside the table, watching.
Lowery held out a selection of play-doh containers.
"Which color would you like?"
Shrugging, the five-year-old studied the different
color lids. After a moment he pointed to the green-capped container.
"Excellent choice for making 'monsters'," the
man said, catching the look of curiosity on the cherubic face. Pulling out
a small, white plastic mold he said, "See? A monster."
JD edged a little closer, studying the object
in the doctor's hand. Frowning, he said, "Don't look like no monster."
"Really?" Will frowned, pretending to study the
mold. "How come?"
"Ain't scary," the child proclaimed.
"By golly, you're right," the therapist said.
"Well, I guess we'll just have to pretend then. You know, I never can decide
what color to use. Any suggestions?" As he spoke he quickly used bits of
the green clay to make four 'monster' playing pieces. He placed on in each
of the four corners of the playing board.
The little boy studied the other options, finally
pointing to the orange-topped container.
"Oh yeah, that should make some pretty cool
monsters." As he made his own play-doh creations he explained the game.
The board was set up with colorful squares laid
out in random paths. In each corner was a cartoon representation of different
settings a child might find themselves in. One represented home, the second
school, the third the playground and the fourth represented the general
The object of the game was to move the game pieces
around according to the roll of a die. The pieces, each one a little truck,
could move in any direction. When the player landed on the corner, they were
supposed to share a time they had become angry in that setting. The situation
could then be discussed and alternative ways to respond to similar situations
could be suggested. These were made with the help of small cards, each with
an anger management technique listed on it. Then the 'monster' in that corner
was 'changed' into something different.
They began playing the game. The little brunet
participated reluctantly at first, still holding on to his anger. As they
continued he slowly warmed up to the game, his more talkative nature coming
Lowery guided the action without seeming to,
moving the play along to keep the little boy from losing interest. He got
his own piece on one of the corners first, using his own tale of becoming
angry while at the park to lead by example. It was an answer he had scripted
himself, vaguely based on an incident from his childhood.
The play faltered slightly as the little brunet
pouted at not reaching a corner first, but otherwise it went relatively smoothly.
JD landed on the schoolhouse and shared an argument with a classmate named
Freddy Chaney. They discussed asking an adult for advice and he turned his
green 'monster' into a crude representation of one of his teachers.
Next he landed on the playground corner and recounted
the time another little boy had cut in front of him on the McDonald's playground
slide. They talked about counting to ten, and he broke the 'monster' into
The next corner he landed on was the home corner.
Lowery watched as anger flared once more in the big hazel eyes.
"What would you like to share about this one,
JD? Can you tell me about being angry at home?"
"I don't wanna play this game no more. It's dumb."
"You seemed to be having fun a few minutes ago."
"Well I ain't now."
"JD, is it the game or this question?" Lowery
"I ain't gonna talk 'bout home and I don't wanna
play this dumb game no more." He sat back and folded his arms across his
Mirroring the child's stance, Will leaned back
in his chair and folded his arms as well. The difference was that his body
held none of the tension that the little boy's body did. Inwardly, though,
he groaned. He had been expecting some sort of fall-out when Vin began releasing
his identity as JD's 'boss'. However he had been expecting more of a backlash
from Vin. The seven-year-old seemed to be blooming though, while the
five-year-old was wilting. The therapist only said, "You know I'm not going
to try and force you to talk, JD, that's now how I work. But you also know
- at least I hope you do - that I'm here to help you figure things out."
"Don't have nothin' to figure out," the little
The therapist studied the boy for a moment. Then
nodding, he said, "Okay."
Surprise flashed across the cherubic little face,
but little Dunne said nothing.
"Well, I guess we really don't need to sit here
any longer if you don't want to talk today. I would like it if you'd find
a picture to add to your bulletin board though, could you do that? You wouldn't
even have to talk about it if you don't want to."
JD shrugged, his face growing sadder as the seconds
Lowery retrieved the folder that held the pictures
JD had been going through each week. Holding it out, he began putting away
the game while the tiny brunet leafed through the pictures. He saw the big
eyes flicker toward the game from time to time, but didn't offer to stop
putting it away.
Finally, the little boy held out a picture. In
a soft voice he said, "This one."
Will studied the picture, not surprised at the
choice of a cartoon shark. Bringing out the little corkboard they were using,
he held it up and offered JD a tack. He watched the sadness growing as the
child tacked the picture on the board, next to the lonely man from the week
Not looking up, the five-year-old said, "It's
an angry shark."
"Yeah, he certainly does look angry," Lowery
"I was angry all week."
"Were you angry with someone or at something?"
Shrugging, the child said, "Mostly I was just
"Sounds like you had a pretty bad week," Will
said, a sad tone in his voice.
"It stinked!" JD growled, suddenly feeling the
anger well up once more. Then the storm that had been building up since before
he had entered the clinic was unleashed. "Nobody was bein' fair all week!
They was mean an' didn't wanna do nothin' fun an' they wasn't nice to me
His calm voice a stark contrast to the child's
loud tone, the therapist said, "I wonder what made everyone change?"
"They was all changed 'cause you didn't make
Vin do what he's s'posed to do, Dr. Will! Since you telled him not to play
with me no more, he don't never wanna do nothin' fun! And if you ain't gonna
make him be like he was then you're just mean an' I don't wanna talk to you
"So you're angry at me," The therapist replied.
"Well, duh!" JD didn't care if it wasn't polite.
Dr. Will was just dumb sometimes.
"Well, duh? I'm sorry, I'm not certain I understand
what you mean."
The little brunet huffed and glared at the therapist.
After a couple of minutes he saw that the man was simply sitting there, looking
at him. "It means yes!" He growled.
"Okay, so you're angry at me because I didn't
make Vin do what you wanted him to. I thought we talked about that last week
and we decided that it wouldn't be fair to try to force Vin to do something."
I wan'cha to make him
change his mind so he wants t' be like he used to be!" His anger was losing
steam in the wake of the doctor's calm voice.
"How did he used to be, JD?" Lowery's voice was
just above a whisper now.
Blowing out another breath the five-year-old
said in a small voice, "He used to be my friend. He used to make me do things
an' he pr'tected me an' he told me what I was s'posed to do."
"And he's not doing that now?"
"No. He let's me get into trouble an' he don't
remind me when I ain't s'posed to do something an' I get into trouble and
people are mean to me an' he doesn't pr'tect me."
"And what happens to you, Buddy?"
"I get into trouble an' big kids are mean to
"Is that what happened since last time you were
With a hard sniff, the boy said, "Yeah."
"Wanna talk about it?"
Slumping back in the seat the upset boy said,
The two adults looked up as the door to the playroom
opened and JD entered the room. Will Lowery was right behind him, and he
nodded to the agents. Spotting the seven-year-old across the room, the therapist
said, "Vin, could you join us, please?"
Putting the toys he had been playing with back
where they had come from, the little blond moved over to join the rest of
the group. JD had settled in near Buck, his eyes red-rimmed and his little
cheeks flushed. Vin moved beside Chris leaning against his foster father.
With everyone situated the therapist said, "Well,
I thought that since the past week has been pretty difficult, and since
everyone's here this week, we'd all have a little talk."
"Yeah, an' I told Dr. Will that you ain't my
friend no more!" JD announced quickly, big eyes flashing toward the other
Buck's mouth flew open as he started to reprimand
the little boy, but he closed it when the therapist caught his eye and shook
his head. At the same time, Chris' eyes flashed, but he held his tongue.
Vin, oblivious of the silent exchange between
the adults, protested strongly. "I am too yer friend, JD! I don't know why
you keep sayin' that, but it's a lie! I'm yer friend!" Blue eyes were awash
in a sea of tears.
"I ain't lyin'!"
"Boys!" The two fathers said at the same time
as they tried to head off another argument.
"Well, I had wanted to bring this up a little
differently," Lowery said softly after they had managed to quiet the little
boys, "but this is what we need to talk about most. Vin, JD shared with me
earlier that he feels like you've been treating him differently this past
The little blond turned a puzzled face from one
adult to the other, to the smaller boy, and then finally back to the therapist.
"I've been tryin' real hard t' do what y' said I was s'posed to do. I didn't
mean t' do nothin' wrong. I told y', Dr. Will, I don't know why he's mad
"I told you just now, you ain't been bein' my
"I have, too!"
"Okay, guys listen," Will raised his voice enough
to get everyone's attention. "We're not going to be able to figure out anything
if you keep fighting. So, I'm going to make a couple of rules. I'm going
to decide who talks; nobody else can talk until I say they can. And no loud
voices. If we're going to talk this over, then we need to talk, not yell.
Is everyone agreed?" Vin nodded his head, then JD. The doctor looked at Chris
and then Buck, making certain that they understood that those rules were
going to apply to them as well.
"Good. Now, I'm going to make some new seating
arrangements." It took them a couple of minutes to get everyone arranged
to suit him; they were all situated in a circle. Quickly checking with Larabee
to make certain that he was comfortable, his broken leg propped up on a low
accent table, Lowery continued.
"All right. Now, JD told me about something that
happened a few days ago. JD I'd like you to tell Vin and your dads what you
told me earlier, can you do that?"
"I can't 'member all the words, "The little boy
"It doesn't have to be exact. Just tell them
the story about what happened at school last Friday."
JD was deeply engrossed in his art project.
He had asked and received permission to make a poster for St. Patrick's Day.
The five-year-old had spent the morning tracing and cutting out shamrocks
and was now making a rainbow and clouds at the top of the big sheet of paper.
When he was finished with that he would begin gluing the shamrocks on. Mrs.
R. told him that when he finished it she would put it up on the door, so
he was working especially hard on it. He was so involved in his project that
he didn't hear anyone come up to the table until something bumped it. His
mouth flew open in an 'oh' as his red crayon made a scribble across the paper.
His head shot up, and he saw Craig Sherman standing there, grinning at him.
"Craig! Look what you did! Now it's ruined!"
"It's not, either," the older boy argued, still
grinning. "It's a dumb lookin' picture, any way."
"It ain't either!" JD looked around, trying
to find Vin. He couldn't do anything to Craig, but Vin would. He found his
friend all the way on the other side of the room, talking to Mr. Beidler.
JD put his hand up, waving the blond over. He grinned when he thought about
how his friend would make Craig leave him alone. But then he felt his paper
being pulled away. Turning, he saw Craig pulling at the paper, trying to
get it away. He was still grinning. Then, to his horror, JD heard the distinct
sound of paper ripping. Aghast, he watched as Craig ripped the corner of
his paper. "DON'T!"
"Craig, what are you doing?" Mrs. R. came over,
frowning at the older boy.
"Nothin', an' he can't say I did!" The boy protested
far too quickly.
"Young man, you march over there to the writing
Craig knew what that meant; he'd be given a
writing assignment dealing with his actions. His grin disappeared, replaced
with a furrowed brow as he stomped away.
"JD, what happened?"
Sniffing, the little brunet said, "He ruined
my paper." He pointed out the red mark and the torn corner. "I wanted it
to be real special for a dec'ration."
"Well, it's not too bad," the teacher said to
console the little boy. "I could tape the corner, and I think white-out will
cover the mark. Would that be okay? Or if you'd rather I can give you some
extra time to re-do it."
Studying the paper and turning the offer over
in his mind, JD said slowly, "Can we see what it looks like if we try an'
"Sure, that sounds like a good idea. Then you
can decide if it looks okay, or if you need to start over."
"'Kay." He waited for Mrs. R. to return with
the things to try and repair his drawing. While he did, he turned, trying
to figure out where Vin was. His friend was still talking to Mr. Beidler.
Anger flared once more as he realized that the bigger boy hadn't even tried
to come over and help him out.
As JD finished recounting what he had told him
earlier, Will watched both boys. The brunet had grown upset during his narrative
and appeared angry once more. Vin, on the other hand looked shocked, confused,
and upset. When he saw that JD was finished, Lowery said, "Vin, do you remember
Frowning, the little boy said, "I 'member him
doin' a special project."
Can you tell us what you remember about that
time? JD said you were talking to Mr. Beidler."
"Yeah," Vin nodded.
Vin had grown steadily more frustrated throughout
the morning. He had been working on a writing assignment, but no matter how
hard he tried, he couldn't seem to get it done right. He had gone to both
Mr. B. and Mrs. R. for assistance, but he was still having trouble. Admitting
defeat once more, he pulled himself out of his chair and shuffled over to
where Mr. B. sat at his desk. He stood quietly, waiting for the teacher to
"Hi Vin," Jim Beidler said with a sympathetic
smile when he saw the frustrated expression on the little face. "Are you
still having trouble?"
"Yeah," Vin let out a frustrated sigh as he
Holding out his hand, the teacher said, "Can
Nodding, the little blond moved closer to the
desk, handing over the paper. As he waited for Mr. B. to look it over, he
glanced around. He saw JD across the room at the art table with Craig Sherman.
Craig was smiling and, as he watched, JD turned, waved, and smiled at him,
too. He nodded, but just then the teacher spoke to him, and he turned back
to focus on the paper that was causing him so much trouble.
As Vin's version of the story finished, the room
grew silent. Will watched the fathers' responses as well as the little boys'.
Both of the men wore expressions that mixed relief and some frustration.
Vin's head dropped, more than likely expecting to be taken to task for not
having protected JD. On his part, the smaller boy was staring at his older
friend, his brow furrowed.
"JD, it looks like maybe you have a question
to ask," Lowery prompted.
"You didn't know Craig was bein' mean?"
Head still bowed, Vin shook it, no.
"Vin, could you look up at us, Buddy?" The therapist
coaxed. "It's sort of hard to talk to the top of your head."
He raised his head, expecting to see disappointment
or anger in the faces around him. Chris and Buck did look sort of sad, but
he could sense that they weren't upset with him. He turned to look at the
therapist and saw that he wasn't angry either. Finally he ventured a quick
look at JD. To his surprise, JD didn't look angry. "I'm sorry, JD. I was
mad 'cause I couldn't do my work and when I looked up you and Craig was both
smilin'. I didn't know he was bein' mean or I'd 'a made him stop."
"You don't hate me?"
Blowing out a long breath, the blond said, "JD,
I told y' and told y' I don't hate you! Yer jist like my little brother
why would I hate y'?!"
"Little Bit," Buck said gently. "Why didn't you
say something to us son? We've asked you time and again what was bothering
"JD, we could have worked this out without having
so many arguments and yelling all week," Chris added softly.
"If you'd jist ask me, I'd tell y', JD. I ain't
s'posed t' be yer boss, but I'm still yer friend."
In response to the responses from his family,
the little brunet sniffled. Then his little face scrunched up and he began
to cry. Before the adults could respond, Vin was out of his chair. He grabbed
up a tissue from the table and went to his surrogate little brother. Handing
the tissue over, he put his arm around the smaller boy.
While both Buck and Chris ached to give their
own comfort, Lowery asked them to wait. "JD needs this one from Vin. They're
walking a tightrope right now, trying to redefine their relationship. It's
scary, because they're too young to really understand what's going on. All
they know is that they're being asked to make a lot of big changes."
"Well, we're not too young to understand and
it's scary," Chris said. Turning to the therapist he said, "We really blew
it, didn't we?"
"Yeah, we did," Wilmington agreed, his voice
trembling with emotion.
"No, you haven't blown a thing. You need to remember
that a lot of this is going to be painful
for all of you. That's just
the nature of the beast."
"So, what should we do now? How do we help them?"
"I'm going to give you all some homework this
week that will help you with this sort of thing when it comes up again."
He smiled understandingly at the pained expressions that crossed both faces.
"Yes, it's going to come up again. You're going to have to help both boys
figure out how they can change and still be as close as they've been for
the past couple of years. We don't want to break that bond, that's the last
thing we want to do. What we want to do is make it healthier; help them grow
as individuals as well as friends."
The two men nodded in agreement then the three
men turned to check on the boys. They couldn't help but smile as they saw
that Vin had climbed into the chair next to JD, one arm protectively around
the smaller boy's shoulder. Blue eyes regarded them all with a hint of defiance,
daring anyone to try and force him from his friend. Beside him, the little
brunet leaned into the comfort of his friend's loose embrace, relief on his
"How are you feeling now, JD?" Will asked gently.
A smile growing across the tear-stained features,
the five-year-old said, "I feel okay. Vin don't hate me, Dr. Will, he just
"How about you Vin?"
"I feel sad that I didn't know that Craig was
bein' mean to JD, but I'm glad he ain't mad at me no more."
"Okay, you know I think that I can give you
all of you
a homework assignment to help out with misunderstandings
like this." When he saw that he had the attention of all four members of
the eclectic family he continued. "What I want you to do is this. You pick
a time when all four of you can be together without any distractions for
half an hour every night. I know that sometimes it's hard to find that much
time distraction free, but I think you'll find it. For that half hour you
have to talk about your day. If something's bothering you, you need to bring
"Like when I thought Vin was 'norin' me?"
"Exactly. If you feel like Vin's ignoring you,
or Vin, if you feel that JD's angry with you
anything like that. Now
you need to use some of the rules we used today. Only one person talks at
a time, and no yelling. You can't work things out with angry voices."
"Does that mean Chris and Buck tells us 'bout
To the surprise of the foster fathers, Will said,
"Sure. Now, sometimes they have problems that aren't appropriate for little
boys to know about, and there are parts of their jobs that they can't talk
about. But let's say that Buck left something on the floor by accident and
Chris slipped on it with his crutches. Rather than Chris being angry at Buck
and not telling him, he could talk about it when you're all together."
"Oh, Chris always tells Buck when he's mad at
'im," Vin piped up. He grinned when two of the three adults laughed. Then
he shot a worried glance at his foster father. To his relief, and causing
him to giggle, the big blond made a silly face at him.
"Well that's good to know," Lowery said with
a grin. "Okay, that's one homework assignment."
"We gotta do two of 'em again?" Vin asked.
"Yes, but I think the other one will be fun
at least I hope so. Vin, what I'd like you to do is to make up a story. Do
you remember the pictures you picked out while ago in my office?"
"Okay, I'd like you to make up a story about
what it will be like if you grew up to be those things."
"Y' mean how it'd be if I growed up t' be a cop
an' a soldier an' a cowboy?"
"Yes." When the little boy slumped at the thought
of a writing assignment, he added, "Chris can help you, of course, and you
can use the computer if you'd like."
Brightening a little the little blond said, "Okay."
"Good. Now, JD - "
JD's mouth flew open once more. "Dr. Will! We
didn't talk 'bout my homework!"
"You're right, we didn't," the therapist agreed.
"Would you like to talk about them now, or could we talk about them next
JD considered his options. He had played lots
by himself all week, but it was because he had been mad at Vin. He didn't
think that counted very well. And he had been so mad that he didn't do a
very good job making up a game. "Could I do them again?"
"The homework assignments?" When the little brunet
nodded vigorously, Lowery said, "Sure, that's fine. I don't want to give
you too many things to do, so we'll hold off on the other thing I was going
to have you do until next week."
"'Kay, thanks Dr. Will."
"You're welcome, JD," the therapist replied with
a smile. Then turning to the adults he said, "How are you two doing? Would
you like to go into my office for a little while?"
The two men exchanged a look. Turning back to
the doctor, Wilmington said, "Honestly Doc, I think we've already had our
questions answered in here."
Nodding in agreement, Chris said, "I think what
we heard from them tonight will help a lot, and our 'homework' should help
us get them talking about what's going on."
"Okay, well as always, if you have questions,
"Thanks, Doc." Buck looked at his friend. He
saw the weary cast of the injured man's face. "Chris, you gonna make it through
Larabee sighed. His leg was aching and he wasn't
looking forward to sitting in on of those molded plastic back breakers in
a noisy restaurant. But he also wasn't about to disappoint the two little
boys who still sat close together in the chair. "I'm fine."
Shaking his head, Will said, "You're a braver
man than I am, Chris. Okay, if you're all done with me, why don't you go
visit Ronald? I'll see you next Wednesday."
Next appointment: March
Back to Visits With
Dr. Will (Index)