*Once again, the names I am using for children are not their actual names. I find I need to make that clear!
About 10 minutes into our morning visit, we were joined by a woman and a little boy. He was probably between 2 and 3 years old. I'm not sure if she was his mother or what....she certainly wasn't a volunteer. (We have seen several volunteers with children and they are amazing with the kids!) The first thing I noticed about little "Alex" was two huge red scratches down the side of his cheek and his tear filled eyes. I was rather close to them because I was trying to move our stuff to give them some room on the small couch. I noticed that he seemed to be watching her and, to be totally honest, seemed like he didn't want anything to do with her. She sat him on the couch and presented him with a gift bag that had a stuffed animal, some snack foods and a juice. She pulled all these things out and put them beside him and then proceeded to text on her phone for the next 30 minutes or so. I glanced at him every so often and offered him small smiles. I can tell you that I have never seen a child filled with so much sorrow. He was by far the saddest child I have ever seen. Honey even commented to me as we left the institution, "Did you notice how sad that little boy was?" I don't think I can adequately describe what I saw today. When he was done eating, she got him down and pulled out some toys for him to play with. He only had eyes for our firetruck (which most every child that has seen it has been drawn to it). She yanked it out of his hand and scolded him which immediately wiped all traces of a smile that had been there moments earlier when he had picked up the truck. I felt so bad for this little boy. I don't know if the red scratches had been done by another child or by himself. But he had no joy in this time away from his group.
The 2nd story I have is a bit different. "Nick" is probably about 5 and he lives on our little boy's floor, in the room next to our son's. As we were picking up little brother for our afternoon visit, we saw one of the volunteers coming for Nick. We saw this same pair yesterday during our afternoon visit and it was a pleasure to see this volunteer again. You seen, Nick is autistic and this particular volunteer is wonderful with him. He has given himself heart and soul to Nick and refers to himself as Nick's older brother. We got to the playroom at about the same time and it was nice to hear (in English) "Can we play with you?" The six of us played together for nearly 2 hours. Nick was willing to come over to us and try to play with our puzzles and watch our nook...and our boys were very good about sharing with him. Everyone here LOVES my nook tablet and are amazed at everything that I have on it! This wonderful volunteer (let's call him Barry) played with Vlado and was shocked to learn that Vlado was adopted from here 17 months ago and that he didn't speak when he came to us. (Vlado does not stop talking now! If you know him in person, you are probably giggling at my huge understatement!) When Vlado pulled a book out of the backpack today, we read it together. I would read a page and then Vlado read one. Barry was dumbfounded that Vlado was reading. He was also surprised to see little brother sitting quietly snuggled into Honey listening to a book on my nook. What I forgot to tell you is that on day 2....remember the awful visit? Barry was there. He is the one who carried little brother back inside and took him back to his room. He witnessed the horrible fit and my not so composed reaction to it. Don't worry, I was able to hold back the tears until the elevator closed. But when he came back downstairs and told us to wait for a few minutes before we went back up, he saw my not so pretty crying self. So, Barry saw what it was like at first, and he is seeing what is developing between us. I think that is a good thing!
So, there is the reality for two of the children who live here. Tears from one and giggles from the other. How can my heart not be broken in two?