by LaraMee

Little Britches ATF AU

March 10, 2004


Date:  March 10, 2004

Session Notes:  Things hit a bit of a snag this week when it became evident that JD is having more trouble dealing with changes than he seemed to at first.  He expressed a lot of anger at what he perceived as Vin's abandonment.  Hopefully we've begun helping him feel a little more comfortable with how things are changing.  Vin is progressing quite well in his therapy.  He displays a sharp mind and is willing to do his best even when he isn't quite certain as to why he's being asked to do something.  Like JD, he struggles with the changes, though.  Both of their foster fathers expressed some frustration and doubt during this session, but reassurance that they continue to do well appeared to help in that regard.   Our biggest challenge at this point is helping the boys change their relationship without losing the close bond they share.

Homework Assignments:  The family has been asked to spend half an hour each night discussing any issues that have come up during the day.  Hopefully this will assist in their communication.  Vin has been asked to describe himself in the future.  JD asked to re-do his homework from last week, which I agreed to.  My impression is that he didn't do well with it last week due to the issues we discussed today.

William Lowery, PhD

[tape recording]

Hi guys.

Hi Dr. Will.


Hey Doc.

Hi Doc.

Well Chris, this is a surprise. I didn't think we were going to be graced with your presence any time soon.

I had a doctor's appointment in town, anyway, so I thought I'd stay around for the boys' appointment.

I see… any other reason?

What do you mean?

Well, you've called twice since the last appointment because the boys were having trouble getting along. And, since Vin's playing with the blocks and JD's sulking across the room, I'd say that my suggestions didn't help a lot.

Yeah, okay. I thought that Buck might need back up this evening.

I could have handled it.

I didn't say you couldn't. I just thought since I was in town anyway, I could give you some support.

You weren't just in town anyway. You changed your appointment!

Uh, guys? Maybe the boys aren't the only ones who've had a rough week.

Sorry, Doc.

I guess you're right. Yeah, I did reschedule my appointment so I could be here today. Not because I don't think you can't handle the boys on your own, Buck. I'm just [sigh] I don't know.

Well, why don't you tell me more and let's see if we can't figure it out.

It's just really frustrating to get most of this stuff second hand. Buck's done an awesome job of taking care of… all this. Not to mention a lot of other things he's had to take over because of… I mean for me.

Because of you?

Slip of the tongue.

Or perhaps you're feeling guilty about Buck having to deal with so much of the responsibility right now due to your accident.

Seems to me you've had to take up my slack a couple of times, Pard. Always figured that was what friends did for one another. Unless you don't think I'm up to the challenge.

You know better than that.

Chris, what I'm hearing from you is that you're feeling like you're letting people down, especially Buck and the boys. And what I hear Buck telling you is that he understands. Is that anywhere in the ballpark?

Is from my end, Doc.

Well, maybe that's part of it, but… look, you're here to work with the boys, not me.

Not true. I'm here to assist the family, and the last I heard, you're part of the family. What if I meet with you - both of you - after I meet with the boys?

Yeah… okay.

Well, maybe just Chris… someone needs to stay with the boys.

I can get one of the interns to stay with them. They'll be in good hands.

I think that the doctor's telling you that your presence is requested, Pard.

Oh, wipe that grin off your face, Larabee, or I'll hide your crutches tonight.

[laughter] Okay, let's get the boys over here and get things started… Vin, JD, could you boys join us?

[pause and sound of movement]

Hi there.

Hi, Dr. Will.

Hi, Dr. Will.

I was just talking to your dads, and they think that this has been a pretty hard week for all of you. Is that how you see it?

Yeah… I guess.

JD? What about you?


You don't think it's been a pretty hard week.




Okay… well, Vin, can you tell me a little about what's been going on?

I don't know. I was just trying to do my assignments for you and trying to help Chris sometimes. But every time I tried to do something with JD, he got mad at me.

Did not.

Did too.

Did not!

Boys -

Did too!

Did not! [sound of chair crashing to the floor]

John Daniel Dunne!

Okay guys, let's calm down. Vin, why don't you come with me and we'll give JD a little time to calm down?

I am calmed down! I want to go first!

Well, I'm sorry, JD, but Vin's going first this time. I think you need a little time to calm down.

You're mean, Dr. Will! I don't need to calm down! I want to go first! [child continues arguing as the adults confer]

Do you want me to have one of the other therapists come in to help out?

Nah, we'll handle it. To be honest he'll probably calm down as soon as you're gone.

Uh… Dr. Will, if JD wants to go first…

No, not this time, Vin. Come on, let's go to my office.

Okay [sigh]

We'll see you all in a little while.

Will Lowery entered his office behind a rather subdued Vin Tanner. The seven-year-old shuffled into the office and climbed into the chair without asking. He slouched back in the seat; his gaze settling on a point just beyond the therapist's left shoulder.

Settling in at his desk, the doctor said, "So, tell me what's been going on since we last met."

Shrugging, Vin said, "I ain't for sure, Dr. Will. JD's been gittin' mad at me for just 'bout anything lately. I think… "

When the little blond trailed off, Lowery prompted, "You think what, Vin?"

In a faint, trembling voice, the child said, "I think he hates me."

"Tell me what makes you think that, Buddy," the therapist said gently.

"'Cause he's been hollerin' at me, an' he don't even wanna sleep in th' same room with me. After Chris an' Buck goes t' bed, he sneaks outta our room and goes t' sleep in th' den."

"So tell me more about how you're feeling about all this."

With another shrug, Vin said, "I don't like it. I don't want JD t' be mad or hate me or nothin'. I wish I knowed why he's mad. I'd say I'm sorry for it."

"Have you asked him why he's angry?"

"Yeah," the child replied with a quivering sigh.

"What did he say?"

Sniffing now, the little blond said, "He jist called me names, an' told me to leave 'im alone."

"I'm sorry, Vin," Will said sincerely. "I don't think we'll be able to figure this out without JD's input though."

"His what?"

"We'll need to talk to JD, to see what he has to say about everything. How about this… after I talk to JD we'll all sit down, even your dads, and see if we can figure all this out together. Would that be okay?"

The little boy shook his head. "He won't talk. He won't tell Buck an' Chris what's wrong, neither. They asked him lots a times, and he jist said he don't know why he's mad."

"Well, maybe that's right. Perhaps he doesn't know why he's angry. But, perhaps if we all sit down together and talk it out, we can help him figure it out."

"Okay." Little Tanner's expression told the therapist he thought it as a waste of time.

Lowery knew that there was a chance that the boy was right. He hoped not; hoped that they could help the younger boy process his feelings. For the moment, however, he needed to focus on Vin.

"Getting back to you, you said you're confused about how JD's been treating you."

"Yeah, I guess," the little blond said softly. "But I don't think I c'n talk too much 'bout it 'til we talk to JD."

"You don't?"

"Nope. Can we talk 'bout somethin' else?"

Suppressing a smile, the therapist said, "What would you like to talk about?"

"My homework," Vin answered quickly.

"Okay, shall we start with the game?"

"Well… it didn't turn out very good," The little blond loosed yet another sigh.

"It didn't?"

"No. I don't know why, Dr. Will, but it don't seem like I c'n make up very good games no more. I tried, I really did," the little boy said plaintively.

"I'm sure you did," The therapist said gently. "Why don't you tell me about the game, and we'll see if we can figure out what the difference is between the old games and the new one." He had an idea as to why, but wanted more information from his diminutive client.

They discussed the game, which turned out to be a running game. While it was something that Vin was much better at, it became clear that he had considered the younger boy's smaller size and had tried to make it work for him. However an unforeseen problem had arisen when JD had tripped and fell.

"Me an' Chris didn't mean t' laugh, Dr. Will, but he jist looked awful funny layin' there. At first he was laughin', too, but then he got mad cause we was laughin'. He said we was bein' mean to 'im and went inside. He wouldn't hardly talk to us all night, even though me an' Chris both told him we was sorry."

"Let me ask you this, Vin. Did he ever get angry at you for the games you made up when you were living at the warehouse?"

Young Tanner considered the question, thinking back on those days although it was always difficult. After a few moments he said, "No, I can't remember him ever get mad b'fore."

"What do you think the difference was between now and then?"

Heaving a frustrated sigh, the seven-year-old said, "I don't know! If I knowed th' diff'rence 'tween then an' now, I'd change it!"

Softly, the therapist said, "Why did you make up those games, Buddy?"

Frowning, Vin said, "So we'd have somethin' t' do."

"Was there any other reason?"

Shrugging, the little blond studied his shoes, uncomfortable with the direction the conversation was going. He didn't like to think about that time, and he didn't like it when Dr. Will made him talk about that time. Folding his arms across his thin little chest, his frown deepening, Vin tried to get the man to see that he wasn't in the mood to talk.

But sometimes Dr. Will was just dumb.

The office was silent for nearly ten minutes. From time to time the seven-year-old stole a look toward the therapist, his frustration growing when Dr. Will simply sat there, watching him. Finally, heaving an angry sigh, he said, "Yeah."

Fighting the urge to rub at the headache beginning between his eyes, the doctor said, "Tell me more about that difference."

"Do I gotta?"

"Yes, please."

"I had t' make 'em up… 'cause they keeped us from gettin' hurt an' stuff."

"Oh, so those games kept you and JD safe?"

Rolling his eyes, the young blond said, "That's what I said."

"They weren't just games then?"

"No, they was games, but… " Again he hesitated.


Another sigh. "I had t' make up them games 'cause I didn't know how else t' keep JD safe an' I didn't want him t' be scared as… scared."

"Scared as… scared as you were?"

Dropping his head the little boy nodded. Tears fell, splashing on his jeans. "I was so scared, an' then I had JD t' take care of an' I didn't know how t' do it. Everybody keeps sayin' how I was brave an' did a good job, but I was jist scared, Dr. Will. I jist didn't know what else t' do."

"Well, I know you've heard this before, but you did do a very good job, Buddy. You did something that not even a lot of adults could handle, and you did it well. And being scared is very understandable, Vin. Anyone would have been scared in your position."

"Not Chris," the little boy argued.

With a compassionate smile, Will said, "Yes, even Chris. You ask him, and see."

"I will." The little boy's voice held a tone of challenge.

"Good. And I hope you'll share his answer with me next week."


"So, you were scared and made up the games to keep yourself and JD safe without scaring JD, too."

"Yeah." He was tired of discussing this; he wanted to talk about something better.

"Are you scared as much now?"

"Y' mean livin' with Chris an' Buck?"


"No," he shook his head. "Sometimes I git a little scared 'bout things, but not all th' time."

"So maybe your games aren't as much fun now because you don't need them as much as you used to."

Vin studied the comment, frowning up at the doctor. After a full minute he nodded, "You mean I can only make up games if I'm scared?"

"Well, sort of. I think that you know that the games aren't as important now, so you don't work as hard on them. So, maybe we can find another way to make them interesting to you again."

With a smile now, Vin said, "I'd like that, and maybe JD won't be mad no more."

"Well, we'll have to see about JD, but would you like to still make up games?"

"Yeah," the little blond head bobbed up and down.

"Okay, then, we'll keep working on them. So, now, can we talk about your other homework?"

"'Kay." Vin slipped off the chair and pulled a folded piece of paper from his pocket. Opening it, he smoothed it out and held it out for the therapist to see.

"You wanna read it?"

"I'd really like to hear you read this one." When the big eyes zeroed in on the tape recorder, he added, "We can turn it off if you'd like. Or maybe you'd like to hear your voice and then if you don't like the way it sounds, we can erase it?"

"You c'n do that?"


Vin's curiosity got the better of him. "Yeah, okay… will you help me with some of th' words?"

"Certainly, Vin."

Vin looked down at the paper. He could do this; it was just him and the doctor. Nobody else could hear him, or see him when he got embarrassed. Taking a deep breath, he began to read the assignment. He had different responses from every adult he had seen during the week. They had each written their answer on the paper, and then told him what they had written. He had heard the words again when Chris read over them with him each night. The doctor hadn't said to do that, but his foster father had wanted to see what everyone had written.

1. Vin Tanner is... very brave (Buck)
2. Vin Tanner is... my son (Chris)
3. Vin Tanner is... loyal (Lottie)
4. Vin Tanner is... a hard worker (Mr. Biedler)
5. Vin Tanner is... a good student (Mrs. Roquette)
6. Vin Tanner is... kind hearted (Mrs. Potter)
7. Vin Tanner is... a gift and my nephew (Uncle Ezra)
8. Vin Tanner is... an inspiration (Uncle Josiah)
9. Vin Tanner is... very intelligent (Uncle Nathan)
10. Vin Tanner is... resilient and a survivor (Ms. Nettie)

When he finished his slow, laboriously pronounced reading of the list, he drew the first deep breath since he had begun. He looked up at the therapist with a smile.

Seeing the victorious expression on the tiny face, Will Lowery couldn't help but smile in return. "Good job, Vin. So, do you know what all of those mean?"

"I think so. Everybody 'splained what they wrote, an' then me an' Chris talked 'bout 'em every night."

"Could you tell me about them?"

"Sure… I guess," Vin looked down at the paper once more. He could do that; he could remember what people said.

"If you need help remembering, we can figure it out, how's that?" Lowery could see the discomfort growing once more.

"'Kay," the little blond said in relief. "Well, we did Buck's last week…'member?"


"An' he said brave. He said it was 'cause I had to be brave when we lived in th' warehouse, but that I was still brave. He said I was brave when I broke my arm, and when Chris broke his leg, an' when that troll tried t' hurt Unca' Ezra… and lots of other times, too.

"Chris said my son. He said one of the most special things that ever happened to him was when I said I wanted to come live with him. Dad said I… I brought sunshine back in his life. He got a funny look on his face, Dr. Will, but he said it was a good thing."

"What do you think he meant Vin?" The little boy's face flushed and his eyes sought out a place on the carpet. Cocking his head the therapist tried to catch the child's attention. "Vin?"

Still clearly embarrassed, the child said, "I think it means he was awful sad when Mrs. Chris and Adam went up t' heaven, and when I came to live with him it helped him be happy again."

"That's certainly something to be proud of," the doctor said with a smile.

Vin smiled and nodded, but continued to blush for a few minutes. He took up his explanation once more. "Miz Lottie said loyal, 'cause she can always count on me t' help her out. Mr. B. said a hard worker 'cause he said I always try to do my best in school. Mrs. R. said a good student 'cause I like t' learn new things. Miz. Potter said kind hearted. She said that's 'cause I… um… "

Seeing the little boy struggling with the explanation, Lowery said, "Maybe she meant because you care about other people?"

Face brightening, Vin said, "yeah, and 'cause I love animals, too." Checking his list again, he continued. "Unca' Ezra said two things. Dad said that's 'cause he's got… um… well it's kind 'a like he's got too many words in his head."

Will chuckled. "Okay, that makes sense."

"'Kay. Well, anyway, he said a gift an' my nephew. I thought that was kind 'a strange, 'cause I ain't a present. But he said that means I'm… well, he said I'm very special to him. An' he said he had t' put my nephew down there, 'cause that was the best gift I could ever give 'im.

"Unca' 'Siah said an in… spir… a… tion."

"That's a big word, isn't it?"

"Yep. He said it means that since I always try an' do my best, and 'cause I took care 'a JD, an' stuff like that. Unca' Nathan said very intelligent. I thought that meant th' same thing as bein' a good student, but he said no. He said that you can be intelligent even if you don't go t' school. He said he means that I can look at a problem and work real hard to figure out how t' solve it.

"Miz Nettie said two things, too. I thought that was kind 'a funny, 'cause she's always sayin' Unca' Ezra talks too much. Anyway she said I was a… " frowning, the little boy held the paper out to the therapist.

"Resilient and a survivor."

"Yeah. Even Chris wasn't real sure what she meant by that, so he called her an' asked her. She said it meant that no matter what happened to me, good things an' bad things both, that I worked real hard t' make th'… make th' best 'a things. She said I landed on my feet. I still ain't real sure what that means, Dr. Will."

"Well… let's see. Okay, can you think of an animal that lands on its feet no matter what?"

Little face scrunching in thought, Vin said, "Yeah! A cat!"

"Right. Even if they fall off something upside down, they flip over and land on their feet. Do you remember when you showed me that picture of Eeyore on his head?"

"Yeah!" Vin's eyes sparkled as the connections began to form. "He was on his head, but he was gonna figure out how to get back on his feet."

"Right. Just like you. When things get turned upside down, you work really hard to figure out how to get back on your feet."

"Okay, now I get it!"

"Good." Pausing to see if the child had anything to add, but seeing that he was finished, the therapist said, "So, tell me. How does hearing all of those things make you feel?"

Vin squirmed a little, the blush returning to his fine features. He hunched up his shoulders, took a deep breath, and then finally smiled. "I kind 'a feel funny 'cause everyone said all these really nice things. But it's a good funny an' it makes me feel really, really good."

Grinning, Lowery said, "Good. That's the way you should feel about yourself. So you know what?"


"If it's okay with you, I'd like to make a copy of your list, but I want you to take it home. And I want you to read it every night until you can recite the entire thing without looking at it."

"Mem'rize it?"

"Exactly, Vin."

"Dr. Will?"


"How come?"

"How come?" When the little blond nodded he said, "Because if you memorize that list, it will be in your mind for the rest of your life. Then if anyone ever says a bad thing about you, you can remember these good things, and maybe you won't feel bad about yourself."

"Oh," Vin wasn't completely certain that he understood, but maybe Chris could help him figure it out later. Chris was good at helping him figure things out when other grown ups confused him.

"Okay, since our time is about up, shall we look at the picture you chose last week?"


Pulling the picture out of the folder, Lowery held it out for his young client. When the little boy took it, he said, "So, can you tell me about this picture?"

"You said I was s'posed to pick out a picture that made me think of me, now."

"Right. Can you tell me more about choosing this picture?"

"'Kay. Well I picked it mostly 'cause it looks like he's got a cowboy hat on. That's what Dad calls me sometimes, Cowboy. And he' smilin', so he's happy."

When the little boy's explanation ended, Will said, "What do you think he's happy about?"

"Um… well, I think he's probably happy 'cause he has a fam'ly now, an' he's got a good place t' live, an' lots 'a people that love 'im now."

"I think those are all very good reasons to be happy."

Smiling broadly, the little boy said, "Me, too!"

Deciding that nothing else was needed in that brief discussion, Lowery said, "Okay, so would you like to pick out another picture for me?"


Handing over the folder, he said, "Okay, I'd like you to find a picture of who you think Vin Tanner will be in the future."

"You mean like growed up?"

"Maybe, or maybe just next week or next month. When you look at the picture, you think about who you want to be."

"Okay," he was still uncertain, but decided that the doctor knew what he was talking about. Slowly he began to look through the pictures. After a few minutes of searching he said hesitantly, "Dr. Will?"

"Uh huh?" The therapist was scribbling down a few notes as he waited for the young boy to make his decision.

"I can't d'cide." He held up three different pictures.

Lowery smiled, seeing that the little boy had gone with the future in aspect of 'What I want to be when I grow up'. Never an easy choice for a young person. "Well, why don't we just put all three of them in your folder?"

Smiling with relief, Vin said, "okay!"