You know it. I know it. And he knows it.
That smile and those sparkly eyes can charm you out of (or into) just about anything. This is the face that most of you see because this is the face he wants you to see---the face that has and will continue to get him what he wants: attention, snacks, treats, and his version of love. It is the face that controls the outcome of his interactions with you.
What you don't see in this picture and what we are struggling with right now is fear. Wilson is afraid of being left alone. He is afraid I will die. He talks about it a lot. He asks when I will die and asks what will happen to him. He tells me that when I die, he wants to go with me.
I know this is typical for children---this phase of understanding death and knowing that some day they will be separated from the people they love. But it's different for Wilson because this isn't his first experience with separation and loss. He knows more than most adults about what it feels like to lose people you love. He lived in a care center for 3 years after losing his first family. Kids, staff and volunteers came and went...and he was still there; waiting for a family. Waiting for someone who wouldn't leave; someone who would be his forever.
When I arrived in Haiti, he willingly left with me and never looked back. He quickly gave up speaking any Kreyol and 'forgot' the names of most of his nannies, staff and friends. He rarely talks about them with the exception of a chosen few.He only wanted us and his attachment seemed relatively easy.
And now we have reached a very difficult phase. Wilson is petrified that I will leave him. The easiest way for him to gain control of this situation is to leave me first---to tell me that he doesn't want me and to begin to 'shop' for my replacement.
It is hard to explain what this looks like in our home without betraying him and his struggles. Our close friends have seen glimpses of it and have listened to me as I try to work through the hard parts.
I am speaking out about this because I need you to trust me when you see me interacting with him. I need you to follow my lead and help me do what is best for him. For now, that means that all help, hugs and assistance must come from, or through, me. Interrupting adults, incessant chatter and steering the conversation are all ways that he maintains control over the people around him. Please do not allow this anymore than you would with my other children (or yours). Please do not allow him to sit on your lap or throw himself into your arms. Please refrain from picking him up or playing with him in a physical way, for now.
This is a small bump in the road for us and we can move past it more smoothly and quickly with your help.
Once Wilson learns that he is safe, Mommy is in control and that he is loved NO MATTER WHAT, he will be able to rest in the happiness of being part of a family rather than living with the stress and fear of what will happen when we leave him.
Thank you for wanting to shower him with attention and affection---you will get a chance to do that again. Thank you for caring and praying for us. And thank you, in advance, for helping me to help Wilson find the love and safety his little heart has been longing for.