To many this may sound terrible, but I breathe a sigh of relief every time Baby Billy cries when I leave the room. I breathe a sigh of relief when a stranger speaks to him and he buries his head in my chest, when he seeks me out in a crowded room and reaches up so that I can pick him up and reassure him.
I breathe a sigh of relief because these are signs of attachment. Signs that our seven year old whirlwind, Winnie, has heartbreakingly never displayed during the four and a half years of being our daughter and probably never will.
Winnie never seeks us out in a crowded room. In fact she never looks back. She is gone in a flash in search of the thing she craves more than anything in the world, attention. If she thinks she can get away with it, she will crawl on to the lap of the first person to merely smile at her. This behaviour makes us fear for her future. We can only hope that over time we can help her recognise and manage her own behaviour so that she doesn’t put herself at risk.
But for the time being these small signs from Billy mean that we can hope for more for him. We can hope that he won’t face the same challenges faced by Winnie on a daily basis. We can hope that he will understand social boundaries and be able to form real friendships. We can hope that he will be able to form secure attachments.