Buck looked up to see the little entourage enter
the playroom. Vin was first, pushing the door all the way open for his father.
Chris moved into the room, their eyes locking as the blond maneuvered himself
over to the nearest chair. He settled onto it with a tired sigh and nodded
his thanks as his foster son pushed a chair around for him to rest his right
leg on. Wilmington watched the man closely, seeing the haunted look in the
man's dark eyes, and the signs of tears on the pale face. The same signs
were evident on Vin's little face, his big eyes red-rimmed and swollen. Without
hesitation the seven-year-old climbed into his father's lap, little arms
wrapping around the man's neck as the little blond head came to rest on a
broad shoulder. It was hard to tell who was offering comfort to who as Chris
held the tiny body against him.
Lord, when was it going to get easier?
"Well, JD, have you had enough time to finish
building?" Lowery asked the little brunet.
"I guess." The five-year-old said hesitantly.
Then turning to his foster father he said, "Da, you come too?"
"This is your time with the Doc, Little Bit."
"But Chris went with Vin!" The child argued.
"Well first Vin and I talked alone, right?" Will
"Yes," The small boy admitted softly.
"So, then, how about this: you come with me and
we'll talk for a while. Then if you still want your father to come join us,
someone will come and get him. Would that work for you?"
I guess." The little boy was obviously
not happy, but he slipped out of his chair and started toward the therapist.
Then he abruptly did an about face and hurried to where his foster father
sat. "You won't leave?"
"What? Of course not, Little Bit. I'll be right
here, I promise." Buck turned worried blue eyes toward the doctor then back
at the son of his heart. "I'd never go off and leave you, JD. I hope you
Managing a faint smile the child said, "I was
just checkin'. I'll be back in a minute."
"I'll be waitin'," Wilmington promised.
JD nearly ran down the hallway toward the office,
but Will didn't think he was in a hurry to talk. Unless he was completely
misreading the five-year-old, the boy wanted to get their conversation out
of the way so he could return to the playroom. Not for the business of play,
but to make certain that his family was still intact. Buck had reported that
their younger ward had been worried that something bad was going to happen,
but hadn't been able to explain just what it was.
Settling into their customary chairs, Lowery
said, "So, you said earlier that you're pretty unhappy about the way things
are going at home, is that right?"
Dark brows furrowed as the little boy considered
the question. "I said ever'thing stinks, is that what you mean?"
"Yes, that's what I mean."
"Yeah, ever'thing stinks."
"Could you tell me more about why things stink?"
JD shrugged, slouching down in his chair. "They
just do is all."
"Well, I'd like to have more to go on if you
could help me out a little more. I need to know more about why everything
stinks. Maybe you could give me an example?"
Heaving a sigh, the child said, "Da an' Chris
aksed me and aksed me that a billion times. I don't know how to say it good."
Waiting long enough to see that the boy really
didn't know how to explain his feelings about how things were at home, the
therapist said, "well then why don't you pick out a picture for you feelings
and we'll go from there?"
Shrugging, JD said only, "okay."
Retrieving the folder that held the pictures
the boy had been looking at, Will handed it over. "Okay, you find a picture
and we'll talk about it."
The room was quiet for a few minutes while the
tiny brunet looked through the folder of cartoons that depicted different
emotions. Finally he pulled out one and handed it over. "This one."
Lowery looked at the picture; a black cat that
could have coined the term 'fraidy cat'. He wasn't surprised to see this
one from his little client, and hoped that it would aid them in talking over
the child's feelings. "Can you tell me why you chose this picture?"
With another shrug little Dunne said, "It 'minds
me of how I've been feelin'."
"Can you give this feeling a name?"
I guess." Dark brows furrowed over
"You don't look very certain of that. Perhaps
we should talk about it a little and make sure."
When nothing else was forthcoming, Lowery began
asking questions. "Can you tell me about one time this week that you had
"I been havin' it all week."
"Every day?" A nod. "Every hour?" Another nod.
"Maybe not ever' minute, but most of 'em. I tried
to make it go 'way, but it wouldn't."
"Can you tell me what you tried? Then maybe we
can find something else to help you deal with this feeling."
"I talked to Da and to Chris and to Vin."
"What did you talk about?"
A shrug. "Stuff. Like where was they goin' and
what was they doin' and
"Yeah, just lots 'a questions."
"Did they have answers for you?"
most 'a the time. Sometimes they
was busy an' said to aks 'em later but sometimes I forgot to aks 'em later."
"I see. How did you feel when they gave you answers?"
happy? Sometimes happy. Sometimes
I think I felt
that word Da said before
"Yeah. I guess I felt like that. I wasn't happy
but I wasn't havin' bad feelings."
"What about the times they didn't give you an
"When they said to aks later?"
"Sometimes it was okay. But sometimes I still
had bad feelings 'til I aksed 'em later."
"Your father said you asked Vin a lot if the
two of you are still brothers. Do you agree with that?"
A long sigh and the little head dropped as he
stared at the floor. "Yeah. An' Vin got mad at me a lot 'cause he said I
aksed that too many times." Glancing up, he asked, "Do you think that's like
when I say Viiiiiiiiii-iiiiiiiiiin?"
Barely managing to keep from smiling, the therapist
coughed and said, "It could be. Do you think it was giving him bad feelings?"
Another shrug. "I think so. He sure got mad.
Chris gived him a lot of time-outs this week cause he yelled at me an' told
me to stop aksing him that an' Vin gived me lots of mad looks after Chris
gived him a time-out an' then he didn't wanna talk to me sometimes but other
times he said sorry I hollered and I said okay an' then we played some more."
"Doesn't sound like you've had a very good week."
"Nope. Dr. Will?"
"Did Vin tell you 'bout stinky Freddy?"
"What about Freddy?"
"He didn't tell you 'bout him?"
"Could you tell me about him?" Lowery danced
around the question, trying to get the younger boy to give his version.
Thick bangs ruffled as the five-year-old blew
out a breath. "He was mean last week. He said me an' Vin's bad kids if we
gots to come see you. He said more things to Vin, but he made me go watch
for Buck so I didn't hear no more. I aksed him 'bout it later, but he wouldn't
tell me no more 'bout what stinky Freddy said. I think that's part of why
he's been mad all week, but he won't tell nobody 'bout it."
"Well, how about we talk about the problem with
Freddy when all of us talk in a little while. Do you think that maybe that
Nodding vigorously, the child said, "Yeah. Maybe
things won't be so
"Is that the way things have been, JD? Scary?"
The little boy studied the question for a few
seconds. Then, "yeah
"Can you tell me more?"
things has just been scary."
"You remember we talked about people being scared
last week, right?"
"Yeah. I 'member 'cause you said Da an' Chris
an' Vin gets scared, an'
When the little boy stopped, the therapist gently
prodded, "and what, JD?"
Shaking his head, the five-year-old said, "I
still don't b'lieve it."
"You still don't believe that they get scared?"
"No." Another shake of the head.
"Is it scary to think that they could be scared?"
"Yeah," the little boy admitted, then in a more
forceful tone he said, "but they ain't scared."
"Even though they told you they get scared
maybe they used to get scared
but they don't get scared now."
"Did you talk about it this week?"
"Nope. I don't wanna talk 'bout it 'cause they
don't get scared now."
Deciding that the little boy still needed that
security of invincible caregivers, Lowery changed the direction of the
conversation. "Shall we talk more about your feelings then?"
"'Kay." The word was spoken with a heavy sigh.
Relief spread across the child's face, even though he wasn't totally aware
of the reason. His heroes could continue to be his heroes for now.
"Do you know if what's giving you a scary feeling
is a person or a thing?" The therapist asked.
"I don't know," JD paused, then said, "Both I
"So, people and things are both scaring you?"
I think so. I just don't know Dr.
Will!" An angry and frustrated expression filled the ruddy little features.
He watched as the little boy struggled with his
emotions. Lowery's heart went out to the child and he fervently hoped that
he could help bring the boy some relief. "I think it sounds like a very big
"Yeah," JD agreed softly.
"Maybe even too big for you to understand." The
little boy nodded. "And you can't find the words to tell anyone about it."
Another nod. He paused and then said, "Well, how about this. Could you draw
me a picture, and we can see if we can find the scary thing?"
Little Dunne frowned. How could he draw what
was scary if he didn't know what it was? He simply shrugged and said hesitantly,
Moving to the table in the corner of the office,
the therapist produced markers, crayons and a large drawing pad. JD climbed
into one of the chairs and picked up a thin, black marker. He studied the
paper with a growing frown. Finally he said, "I don't know what to draw."
"That's all right. We'll just sit here and talk
for a little while, then." The doctor began asking about school, directing
his young client through a non-threatening conversation. They discussed what
he was studying in school, the latest game he had learned to play on the
After a few minutes the little boy began to draw,
hardly seeming aware that he was doing so. Will watched the picture taking
shape, delivering with it a crude but telling representation of the child's
They continued talking until it seemed that the
little brunet had finished drawing. Lowery waited until he had put the last
crayon down before he spoke. "So, can you tell me about your picture?"
"'Kay. This is our house. These are 'nadoes,
they made the roof go in the sky and they taked all my toys an' stuff out,
"I see. And is this you?" He purposefully pointed
to one of the three stick figures that stood on one side of the house.
"No, that's Vin. See, he gots brown hair. This
is me." He pointed to the little figure that stood all alone on the other
side of the house. "I can't find Da and Chris and Vin so I'm over here by
myself, 'cause I'm lookin' for 'em."
"And how are you feeling?"
Frowning, JD studied the picture then looked
up at the therapist. "Scared. Is that what I'm scared of, Dr. Will, that
'nadoes is gonna come?"
If only it were that simple. "What do you think?"
After a minute little Dunne shook his head. "I
don't think so. I mean, 'nadoes is scary, but I ain't never seen one at our
house, just on TV." He sighed, shaking his head once more. "It's a dumb picture."
"Could you tell me why you think it's a dumb
"'Cause it is. I was s'posed to make a picture
'bout what's scary."
"You don't think this is a scary picture?"
"Yeah, it's scary, 'cause 'nadoes is scary, but
they ain't at my house."
"What is at your house?" Will asked quietly.
"Well, my toys an' Elvis, an' Milagro, an' Vin's
toys an' Ringo, an' Peso, an' Chris, an' Da
they don't got real toys,
but they 'tend their trucks is toys. That's what they call 'em." He looked
at the doctor and shrugged, not getting the joke. "We got beds an' TVs an'
videos, an' games."
"What about the people that live in your house?"
Lowery asked when the little boy stopped to take a breath.
"What about the people that live in your house?"
"You know all the people that lives in my house.
There's me an' there's Da, an' Chris, an' Vin. We don't got nobody else that
lives there. Miz Potter is there sometimes, but she don't live there."
"And they're the same people that have lived
there for about a year, right?"
"Yeah, it's just been us since me an' Vin an'
Da moved in with Chris."
"And you all do the same things that you've always
done since you all moved into Chris' house, right?"
no. We don't do the same
things we always did."
"Do you mean that the people in your house have
that they're different?"
"Yeah, ever'body's changed. They don't do the
same things they used to do."
"Can you tell me more about that?"
"About ever'body bein' differ'nt?"
"Well, Chris is home all the time, cause 'a his
broked leg. He don't like it, 'cause he can't do a some stuff yet an' he's
home almost all the time. An' Da's gone too much 'cause he's gotta
gotta take Chris' slack?"
"Take up the slack?"
"Yeah. So he ain't home too much an' he's busy
a lot. An' Vin don't hardly do nothin' the same no more."
"He doesn't? Do you mean he's made a lot of changes?"
"Yeah. He don't tell me what to do no more, an'
he don't wanna make games up, an' he's been bein' mad 'bout a lot of things."
"Sounds like a lot of things are changing."
"When's it gonna stop?" JD asked in a sad voice.
"Yeah," he sighed. "When's the changes gonna
"Do they need to stop?"
"Yeah, 'cause I don't like 'em. They need to
stop so we can all be the same an' nobody's mad no more!"
"How are you feeling right now, JD?"
"Scared! I don't want things to keep changing,
'cause I don't never know what's gonna happen!"
"And what will happen if things keep changing
and you can't figure out what's happening?"
"I don't know! Bad things!"
"Bad things will happen if things change?"
"Are you certain?"
"Tell me the bad things that will happen when
things keep changing."
"I don't know! Just bad things, Dr. Will! Bad
things, all right?"
"You're feeling very scared right now?"
"And maybe you're a little angry right now, too?"
"Yeah, 'cause you keep makin' ever'body change!
Maybe if we don't come see you no more we won't have to change no more!"
He shot an angry look at the doctor.
"So if you all stop coming to talk to me you'll
all stop changing and everyone will be happy?"
"Can you answer something for me?"
"Okay." He slumped back, staring up at the doctor,
a look of challenge on his little face.
"Was everyone the same all the time before you
and Vin came back to see me?"
He frowned, considering the question. For long
moments there was only silence in the office as the little boy thought about
what had been asked. Finally he said softly, "I think
well, some things
was changed 'fore we came to talk to you."
"Can you tell me one thing that was changed before
you came to talk to me?"
Nodding, JD said, "Vin was gettin' angry a lot
more than he used to. But he's still gettin' angry."
"Okay. How about something else?"
"Well, Da's not around as much, 'cause he gots
to do more work."
"And you don't want that to change?"
"You said you didn't want things to change anymore,
so I thought that you didn't want your father to stop working so much."
"No! That ain't what I want!"
"Then you do want some things to change?"
"And if your father gets to stay home more, would
that be a good thing or a bad thing?"
"A real good thing!"
"So maybe some changes are good?"
Hesitantly the five-year-old said, "Yeah
"But a lot of the time change is hard?" The little
boy nodded. "And sometimes you don't know what's going on when things are
changing?" A nod. "And you get scary feelings with all these changes?"
I don't like it."
"I can understand that. Changes are hard. Even
adults have a hard time dealing with change."
"Yes," Dr. Will gave the little boy a compassionate
smile. Then he asked, "What if we ask Chris and your father how they feel
about change? Maybe we can find some ways for you to not be so scared about
changes if we all talk about it."
"'Kay. Could we go ask 'em now?"
"Is there anything else you'd like to talk about
"Don't think so."
"Did you want your father to come in here to
talk first, or would you rather just go ahead and go talk to everybody at
the same time?"
ever'body at the same time."
"All right. Let's go ask them, shall we?"