My kids have a great daddy! Dan is very involved with them, and they love for him to be around. He's a very hard worker, and often gets the kids to work along side him at home. BUT, he plays hard, too! :) Dan is very competitive, and the kids get so excited when Daddy is involved in a game.... he always makes it more fun. So, therefore, what comes naturally when Daddy has to be away from home? We all miss him very much. We think about him, talk about what he might be doing, and can't wait for him to get back. When he makes it home, the kids all talk at the same time trying to catch him up with things that have happened while he's been gone, they cover him with hugs, and hardly will let him leave the room without someone tagging along!
What comes naturally to a child who has lived for 9 years in an institution? "Natural" is the fact that no adults permanently live with you. The caretakers work shifts, and then go home to their families. An orphan does not usually have one particular person that he is attached to, one that he misses a lot when that person is gone. Teddy walked away from the place that had been his home for 5 years and never even casually glanced back. ( He had been moved there when he was too old to stay in the "baby house" anymore.) Some of the caretakers seemed sad to see him go, but he did not look even one of them in the eye. I don't think he even would have waved if we hadn't been waving with him.
Dan left in the early hours of Tuesday morning to go on an out-of-state business trip. The other kids knew what was going on, but I forgot to try to prepare Teddy. Dan is always up and gone to work well before Teddy wakes up each morning, so he got up on Tuesday with nothing seeming any different to him anyway. I thought that at lunch he would ask where Daddy was, since Dan usually comes in about the time we're getting ready to sit down to eat. Teddy was oblivious. I thought that when we got ready for bed, and Dan wasn't there, that Teddy might ask where Daddy was. Dan always prays with the kids and gives them kisses and hugs before they head to bed. NO reaction whatsoever from Teddy. Surely when another day went by, he would ask when Daddy would be home. All day today, I thought it might occur to him that someone was missing. He never even realized it. The kids were all ready for bed tonight when the phone rang. It was Dan, and I was glad that he called while Teddy was still awake. I explained what was going on to Dan, and handed the phone to Teddy. It was unbelievable to watch the expression on his face..... at first no understanding at all.... then when I said, "It's Daddy" again, it was kind of like a light bulb going on.
I just wish I knew what really goes on inside his head. What does he really comprehend yet about "family?" Are Dan and I still very much like caretakers who might show up for their shift..... or, might not? Of course, with our house having 7 people in it all the time even without Daddy, Teddy hasn't been lacking for attention or things to do. He's been enjoying all of the things that he did NOT have at the institution, and the big 'job' of playing takes most of his interest, anyway. But, it's been painfully obvious that there is quite a lack of attachment yet in his emotions toward those of us who call him part of our family now. It will take awhile before family is just what comes naturally.