This chapter deals with a really big issue. It also ties together some things I set up a long time ago.
Hope you like it,
It had to happen sooner or later, Sharon knew. She was watching Billy play with Joey, the two of them had enjoyed the toy for some time. She then saw Billy look up and turn to find her. When he saw Mommy, he put his arms up, telling her he needed to be close to her.
Sharon went to him, undid the straps and the webbing and picked him up, cuddling him close. “Did you miss Mommy?” she asked.
Billy did miss Mommy. He didn’t understand why it was so important to him, but he just all of a sudden needed to feel her touch, and to be held by her. He was very happy to see her come over right away and pick him up. The anxiety he felt disappeared the moment she held him in her arms. His need for her touch was similar to his need for his binky, both soothed him like a gentle lullaby. His binky calmed him as he dealt with the difficulties of trying to move and get his body to do what he wanted it to do, but Mommy’s touch made everything better. He nodded as he snuggled close to her.
The anxiety melted away from Billy’s face as Sharon held him. As she watched it happen, she couldn’t help but smile, knowing that she was able to provide that much security and comfort to her little boy just by holding him close. “Mommy missed you too Baby.” she told him with a smile.
Craig had watched Billy enjoy playing with Joey. He could see Billy get caught up in the process, and then suddenly he would seem to be scrutinizing everything around him. It appeared to Craig that Billy was trying to figure out whether he should be doing what he was doing. That was the thing that concerned Craig the most. So far, he seemed to be repeatedly distracted by Joey to forget about whether he should be enjoying what he was doing or not, and get back to playing.
In the last thirty minutes, Craig had seen Billy stop six times. Once, he glanced from one toddler to another until he had studied each of them in turn. Craig could only guess at what was going through his thoughts at the time, but he was fairly certain that Billy was comparing himself to the children around him. They looked like he did, diapers and t-shirts a part of their wardrobe. They did a lot of the same things he did, nursed a binky, drank a bottle, several could be seen to be wet just as he was.
What concerned Craig was the look of longing when one of the little ones would toddle over and snuggle with their Mommy. Billy had to know that he could snuggle with his mommy any time he wanted to, but he saw himself as different, or he wouldn’t show longing. This told Craig that he either thought he shouldn’t be behaving this way, or he was worried that someone else thought this way. Either way, it was imperative to help Billy solve this dilemma as soon as possible.
While Craig wanted to talk with Billy about this, he didn’t want to interfere with this special time. He would bide his time and when the opportunity presented itself, he would broach the subject.
Rick sat watching Sharon and Billy interact. He too had seen the anxiety on Billy’s face several times this afternoon. It was heartwarming to watch that expression soften the moment that Sharon picked him up and held him against her chest. He watched Craig for a moment as he studied them both, before saying “Something’s bothering him.”
“Yes, and he’s going to have a difficult time until he works it out.” Craig told him with concern.
“Any idea what the problem is?”
“From what I can see, he either isn’t comfortable with his needs, or he’s afraid somebody else will be uncomfortable with them. He sees the kids around him enjoying their pacifiers and bottles, or toddling off to Mommy for a hug and it looks as though he wishes he were like them.” Craig explained.
“But he is like them, just like them in fact.” Rick said perplexed.
“No, not exactly. The other six don’t have the intelligence to know that Billy is nine and not two or three. That’s the difference. They automatically accept him as one of them because he does all of the same things they do. Billy on the other hand, knows he’s nine and hasn’t reached a point where he’s figured out that no matter how he looks at it, he can’t make his need for his pacifier or his Mommy go away. He wants to be just like they are, but he knows he’s not. This is a difficult place to be.” he explained.
“How do we help him then?” Rick asked.
“I think I have an idea that will help a lot. In fact, something just occurred to me that might solve a big part of this. Excuse me would you?” Craig said as he got up from his seat.
“Sure.” Rick told him. If it would help Billy figure this out, then by all means.
Craig went to speak with Janice, a mother of one of the two year olds. He stood talking quietly for a moment, then made his way toward April.
Janice walked to where her son Marty played with one of the toys and asked “Sweety, do you want num nums?” with a smile.
Marty looked up at Mommy and said “Uh huh.” as he put his hands up for Mommy to pick him up.
Taking Marty in her arms, Janice made her way to a small room off of the main area and sat down. A moment later, Marty was laying across her lap, nursing comfortably.
April drank her iced tea as she approached Sharon. Her foot stepped down on a plastic piece and in her attempt not to break the toy, she stumbled and ended up dumping half the glass of ice cold liquid on Sharon’s back.
“EEEEEEK!” Sharon screeched.
“I am so sorry Sharon, I tried to avoid breaking a toy and lost my balance.” April told her apologetically.
“My God that’s cold!” Sharon said as she tried to calm Billy. Her outburst had scared him and he’d started crying instantly.
“I know, I’m really sorry.” April apologized.
Peter approached them and said “Here.” as he held a white t-shirt out to Sharon. “One of the moms saw what happened and offered a dry shirt.” he told her.
“I tell you what, let me hold Billy while you change in the bathroom.” April offered as she held her arms out.
Sharon, glad for the opportunity to get the cold wet shirt off, told Billy “Go to Aunt April Baby, Mommy needs to go potty.” and handed him to her.
April snuggled Billy close as Sharon headed to the bathroom. A moment later, she came back out feeling much better. As she took Billy back, she said “Thank whoever offered the shirt for me will you Peter, she’s a Godsend.” with a smile.
Two minutes later, Craig came into the room, walked up to Sharon and asked softly “Can you come with me for a little bit?”
“Sure, where are we going?” she asked quietly.
“To help a little boy see what he needs to.” Craig told her as he ushered her toward the small room Janice was in.
When Sharon entered the room, she smiled as she saw Janice nursing her little boy. “Hungry boy?” she asked.
“Yes, nursing to beat the band.” Janice told her with a chuckle.
Sharon looked around the room, noticing it looked like a dressing room with Makeup stations lining one wall, and full length dressing mirrors on the opposite wall.
After Craig closed the door, he whispered “Let him see Janice, would you please?” as he guided her to a chair across from Janice.
Sharon sat down and turned Billy so he sat with his legs across her lap, his head resting against her chest.
Billy’s gaze was pulled to the little boy laying in his Mommy’s lap nursing at her breast. He looked so cute, the perfect image of a content baby boy. His dipey hugging his bottom, his hand in a fist on her booby, he looked so happy. This made Billy want to nurse too and he turned to Mommy and said “Nummieth Mommy.”
When Sharon saw Craig nod to her, she laid Billy down and lifted her t-shirt up, offering her nipple. A few seconds later, Billy was nursing comfortably. “There you go Baby.” she told him sweetly. Because her bra had gotten wet, she had had no choice but to take it off when she changed her shirt, so she didn’t have to fiddle with the clasp of the nursing bra this time. She felt a little self conscious with her whole breast exposed, until she realized that Janice wasn’t wearing a nursing bra either, and that made her feel better.
Billy snuggled close nursing the sweet milk from Mommy’s nipple. He loved this so much. He wished he could get rid of the nagging feeling that someone would get mad at him for the way he was behaving. When it was just Mommy and him, he didn’t notice that feeling so much. When there were other people around, then it really bothered him.
Craig moved a chair closer so he could talk to Billy. “Billy, I want to talk to you for a bit. You keep on nursing, but I’m going to ask you some questions. I need you to answer me though, not just nod your head OK?” he asked.
“OK.” Billy replied.
Craig looked directly at Sharon and then to her hand resting on his diapered bottom, then shook his head no. When she took her hand off of his diaper, Craig smiled. Picking up a rectangular, hand held mirror, he put it where Billy could look at it. “Do you see Marty nursing at his Mommy’s boobie?” he asked Billy.
“Yeth.” Billy replied before resuming nursing.
“He looks very comfortable doesn’t he?” Craig asked.
“Does he look happy to you?”
Billy looked at Marty nursing. He couldn’t see his face because Marty was turned away from him, but he could make out his cheeks moving as he nursed, and his hand curled up on his Mommy’s breast. He also saw how happy his Mommy’s face looked as she watched her baby nurse. “Uh huh.” he said again.
“I’ll bet he really loves nursing.” Craig told him.
“Yeah.” Billy replied with a bit of a wistful tone.
“Are you worried about something?” Craig asked, purposefully keeping his tone the same.
“Yeth.” Billy answered before he realized fully what the question was. He started nursing hard and fast then, as his anxiety increased.
Craig smiled to Sharon then. “Is it about how your body isn’t working right?” he asked.
“No.” Billy answered, unable to keep tears from forming. He kept his eyes watching Marty, wishing he was Marty.
“Is it about needing the same things that Marty needs?” Craig asked.
“Mmmm Hmmm.” Billy answered as the tears started to fall.
Craig fell forward then, almost dropping the mirror. “I’m sorry, I fell out of my chair.” he told Billy. He pushed the chair out of the way then, and knelt on the floor, able to hold the mirror without having to bend now.
Billy had followed the mirror as Mr. Craig almost dropped it. When Mr. Craig brought it back up, he could see Marty again. He liked watching Marty nurse as he did. Somehow, it made things feel right.
“What do you see when you look at him?” Craig asked.
“A happy baby.” Billy answered longingly.
“He looks like he should be wearing a dipey doesn’t he?” Craig continued.
“Uh huh.” Billy answered. That was the thing, he figured out then. Marty looked like he should be nursing and wearing a dipey and nursing a binky. Billy was bigger, so he didn’t.
“And like he should want to nurse at Mommy’s breast huh?”
“Yeah.” Billy answered tearfully. He wished he looked that way. He was small, but not small enough to be seen as a baby. Oh, Mommy and Daddy and a few others told him he looked like a cute baby boy, but he didn’t look like Marty did.
“Do you wish you looked like he does?” Craig asked.
“Yeah.” Billy answered, crying now.
“I see. Would that make it easier then, to need the same things Marty needs?”
“Yeth.” Billy said firmly. If he looked like Marty did, then he wouldn’t have to worry about someone getting mad because he had a binky or a ba ba.
Craig looked directly at Sharon then and pointed across the room. “Do you think someone is going to get upset with you because you need the same things Marty needs?” he asked, knowing this was the problem.
Billy managed to keep from sobbing, but the tears flowed freely now as he nursed. Taking a second he said “Uh huh.” tearfully.
“So, you think that if you looked like he does,” Craig offered, pointing to the mirror, “you wouldn’t have to worry about people getting upset.”
“Yeah.” Billy cried.
“I see. Well Sweetheart, I don’t think you need to worry about that.” Craig said as he slowly shifted the mirror upward.
His tears stopped instantly as Billy watched the mirror move. Slowly, he saw Mommy’s smiling face come into view as the mirror moved up. Billy didn’t realize that when Mr. Craig fell off his chair and then brought the mirror back where he could see Marty, he couldn’t see Marty’s Mommy anymore. He quickly turned his head around and saw that Marty and his Mommy weren’t in the room anymore.
Sharon felt her eyes burn with tears as she watched a big tearful smile form on Billy’s face.
“That happy baby that you said looked like he should be wearing a dipey, and nursing at Mommy’s breast, and that wouldn’t have to worry about someone getting upset at them for needing these things, was you little boy.” Craig said with a smile.
Billy turned back to Mommy and began to cry long and hard. He had dealt with the worry for days. It had made it hard to enjoy the baby feelings, and he had almost come to the point where he dreaded when he got distracted and just enjoyed being a toddler. He would always come back to the realization that while he felt like a toddler, he wasn’t one.
Mr. Craig had forced him to look at himself in the mirror. Seeing himself and longing to be who he was lifted a huge weight from his little shoulders, allowing him to understand, yes, he could think like a nine year old, but he wasn’t one.
“Now tell me honestly Billy, what are you?” Craig asked him.
“A babyyyy.” Billy cried.
“And is that a bad thing?”
Billy thought about that as he continued to release stress as he cried. A moment later, he looked at Craig with a big tearful smile and said “No.”
“That’s right Baby boy.” he told him. “Is it something to be scared of?” he asked.
Billy immediately answered “No.”
“That’s right. Don’t ever be afraid to be who you are, OK?” he asked.
With a big tearful smile, Billy said “OK!” and reached his arms out to Mr. Craig. As Mr. Craig gave him a big hug, he said “Tank you.” as tears still came.
“You’re welcome little boy. You just promise me you won’t worry about being a baby boy anymore. I don’t want to see you looking around scared that you don’t belong playing with the other baby boys out there.” Craig said with a firm pat to Billy’s diaper.
Letting his speech pattern match the way he felt, Billy emphatically stated “I pwomith!”
Sharon had to smile when Billy spoke like a toddler without his binky. He was finally coming to grips with who he was. She smiled at Craig and said a tearful “Thank you so much.”
“You’re welcome.” Craig said. Then shifted Billy in his arms and said “I know a Mommy that REALLY wants to snuggle with her baby. Can you tell me where her baby is?” as he looked into Billy’s smiling eyes.
“Wight hewe!” Billy said with a giggle.
“Right where?” Craig asked as he looked around everywhere but at Billy.
“Hewe! It’th me!” Billy laughed.
“You?” Craig said.
“Yeth! I’m herw baby.” Billy told Mr. Craig with a huge giggle.
“Are you sure?” Craig asked as he tickled Billy.
“Yeth!” Billy squealed.
“Well alright then, go to Mommy Sweetheart.” he told Billy as he handed the laughing little boy over to his mommy. Looking to Sharon, he said “I’ll be right back.” and left the room.
“Here Baby Boy, finish nursing.” Sharon told Billy as she laid him down again, this time on the other side. She didn’t bother with the formula this time because he’d had the cake and the bottle of Milk earlier. When he latched on to her nipple, she smiled a big smile at him and said “There’s my cute baby boy.” in a sweet voice.
Billy knew she was telling the truth this time. He had seen himself in the mirror and it had struck him how cute the baby was that he saw in the mirror. This made him giggle great big giggles.
Sharon saw it was different this time. He believed her, she saw it in his eyes. That was worth more than gold to her at that moment. “Now, I don’t want to see my baby worrying anymore, do you understand?” she asked him firmly. She wanted to impress on him that he needed to accept himself as he had seen himself.
“Yeth Mommy.” Billy answered around her nipple with a smile.
“That’s a good boy. You know what you saw when you looked in that mirror Baby?” she asked.
“What?” he asked curiously.
“The same thing I see every time I look at you. The cutest little baby boy I ever saw.” she said sweetly. This made him smile bigger and snuggle closer. She began patting his diaper then, just enjoying the feel of him nursing.
Craig came back in the room then. He carried a cloth diaper in his hand. He handed it to Sharon and placed his hand over his ear for a second.
Sharon said “Here’s you didee Baby.” and laid it so it covered both his ear and his cheek. She began rubbing it gently back and forth across his cheek while keeping a gentle pressure on his ear. She saw Billy close his eyes as he continued to nurse.
“Billy, does that taste good?” Craig asked. When he didn’t get a response, he said “Good, I don’t think he can hear us.”
Sharon immediately asked “How did you know?”
“I’ve been watching him since he came into the room. He’s been looking at the two and three year olds with longing and that told me that he wanted to be more like them, but the only difference between him and them was his ability to perceive things differently. As I was talking with your husband about this, it occurred to me, it wasn’t his intelligence, but his ability to see that he was different that was at the root of the problem.” he answered.
“I’m not sure I understand why this worked.” Sharon admitted.
Craig thought for a moment before saying “It all goes back to the issue with social services. The woman there carried him from your home, took his pacifier and probably told him he shouldn’t have a binky. This is the root of the anxiety that we saw today. He was afraid someone would tell him he had no business with a binky or drinking a bottle or wearing a diaper. This created a serious problem because he needs these things. I was glad to see that he could forget about it occasionally, I’m not sure how he got to that point, but it probably kept things from getting out of hand.”
Sharon explained what Cathy had talked about and what they decided was best, and then went on to tell him what had happened this morning. “The relief he showed when I told him I didn’t expect him to be a big boy was incredible. He couldn’t stop smiling.” she said.
“That explains a lot.” he told her. "When Elena took him, she didn’t treat him like a baby. This told him that he didn’t look like a baby. No matter how many times you told him, it wouldn’t have mattered. Until he understood that the baby in the mirror was him, there was no way you could’ve convinced him that he looked like he should be wearing a diaper or nursing at your breast.
What he just saw will do more to eliminate the fear that he’s been dealing with than anything else I can think of. Now that he understands that when others look at him, they’ll see a baby boy just as he did, there should be less anxiety over being taken away from Mommy and Daddy. After all, if they see a baby, then there’s no reason to take him away from Mommy." he explained.
Sharon was thankful that Billy was asleep then. She couldn’t help when the tears came. “Are we ever going to see an end to what those people did?” she cried quietly as she watched her baby nurse.
Craig put a reassuring hand on her arm. “Yes, you will. What you saw a few minutes ago is the beginning of the end of it for Billy. You’ll need to reassure him, but the hardest part is over now.” he explained.
Sharon shifted her tearful gaze from Billy to Craig and said “Thank you, you have no idea how much that means to me.”
“You’re welcome Sharon, and I can imagine.” he told her. “I would get some mirrors and put them around the house when you get home. He needs to see himself doing the things babies do. Put one above his crib so he can wake up and see how happy snuggling with Pooh makes him, or how wet he is in the morning if he sleeps without pants. That kind of thing. The more he sees himself looking like a toddler, the better he’s going to deal with how he feels inside.” he explained.
“I’ll see that we have a mirror in every room.” she assured him.
Craig smiled and added “I also want you to get Rick to take some pictures of Billy nursing. Use a Polaroid so that there aren’t negatives lying around of your breast exposed. Honestly, if you could get some of him nursing with nothing but a diaper on, it would help. Every now and again, take them out and talk about them, it will help how he sees himself.”
“That makes sense.” Sharon replied.
“OK,” Craig said as he stared at the floor, “I have to come clean now. The Iced Tea wasn’t an accident.”
“What?” Sharon asked.
“I needed you to be wearing a white t-shirt just like Janice was…ahem…and no bra.” he explained. “Otherwise, Billy would have easily been able to tell the difference between Janice holding Marty and you holding him.” he added as he blushed.
“Couldn’t you have just asked me?” she asked with a chuckle.
“Not really. Especially with Billy in your arms. Besides, believe me, he would’ve known something was up if you knew.” Craig told her.
“Alright, seeing the results, I forgive you.” she told him with a sincere smile. A second later she added “But I’m going to have to have a talk with April.” as she chuckled.
Craig laughed at that. “Alright, I’m going back out there now. Remember, reinforce what he saw often, and he’ll be fine.”
“Thank you again Craig.” she said as he got up.
“You’re welcome. He’s a special little boy, give him lots of hugs.”
“You can count on that.” She replied as she leaned down and kissed Billy’s cheek.