He has anxiety.
He's terrified of strangers and really grouchy when he's forced to be in a crowd of people. Especially if they're looking at him. Absurdly so if they dare to talk to him.
He was born wailing. We thought it was anger.
I usually interpret his adverse reaction to crowds, strangers, anyone who isn't his immediate family, really, as an extension of whatever fierceness he was born possessing.
I've begun to reevaluate.
That anger might well be better defined as fear.
He knew her. He knew the way she smelled, the way she sounded, the way she was. And suddenly, she was gone.
He bonded, quickly, to us. He wanted us. Was comfortable with us. Snuggled into us. When he was put into a situation with new people, he shrieked and clung to me. It seemed like he was angry at the world. Controlling. Manipulative.
I think, perhaps, it was entirely terror.
Afraid we'd go and not come back.
Worried we'd suddenly disappear.
So he claws at me to hold him in a crowd. Still. Not always, but often. He frowns when someone talks to him. Unless it's on his terms. He's reduced to instant tears if one of us leaves without him. It's as though he subconsciously thinks, "I've lost one mother. It wasn't on my terms. I'll be darned if I'm going to make friends or say hello or do anything unless it is because I decide to."
We've continued to be consistent. We've held and snuggled and loved, intentionally. Today, at the park, he made a friend. On his own. Just walked up and made a friend. Later, at the store, he said hi to an employee.
For the rest of the day he periodically ran up to me with his award-winning smile. "Wemember I say hi at store?"
"I do remember," I smiled back. "And I was so proud of you."
Slowly we are replacing fear with trust.
Of course, we did feed him a heaping helping of protein for breakfast so maybe that's all it was.
Love and protein. A recipe for success?