One of my sons came home from Korea at the age of 20 months, leaving behind his beloved foster mom as well as everything else he knew. His first year home wasn’t easy. It took him awhile to get brave enough to really trust that I was going to hang around.
During that tough first year my biggest concern was relationship-building. I prayed. I worried. I carried him everywhere. I slept with him at night. I read every attachment book known to man.
I always had hope for him. But mixed with the hope way down deep was a tiny fear that he would always be afraid of connecting with other people, that he would spend his life lonely and afraid to reach out.
Yesterday morning at the first break in Iowa testing, my son, now 9, got up to stretch and was immediately approached by another little boy for a conversation. My son knew him from our monthly homeschool skating day, but I didn’t really know they’d developed a real friendship.
My son greeted his friend happily and they chatted easily for awhile. I was pleased to realize that they felt comfortable enough to chat even when roller-skate tag wasn’t involved. I marveled at his ability to help the conversation keep flowing, and to dish out and receive the teasing jibes that are so central to boys’ conversations with each other.
Soon he was approached and greeted by a girl about his age as well, also known from skating. I watched bemused as the circle acommodated her as well, my son glowing in its center.
I thought suddenly of my son’s recent eagerness to chat with friends on the telephone. I then remembered how often lately I’ve caught him deep in game-playing with other kids at church.
Somehow this son who was so tentative with relationships as a tiny child has blossomed into a boy who relishes relationships. A boy who is good at them.
I am scurrying to ‘catch up’ my perception of him to embrace the new, maturing person that he is. And in my eyes are tears of delight at the friendly, happy young man he is becoming.
What a gift it is to witness this.