Friday, May 11, 2012

Big Baby Steps

Yesterday was a pretty big day for me.

Since I adopted Bruno, I haven't taken him for a walk. Partly because he had a hurt foot, but I have to admit, the biggest reason is this: all the times I've walked him before were to take him back to his old home. I would walk him down occasionally, rather than driving, so that if he did break out and none of the neighbors were home so he could call for a pickup, he would at least know how to get back to my house on foot.

So, yeah, I've been hesitant to take him for a walk, because my regular walking path takes me right by his old house. And yes, I've joked before about changing my walking path, but let's face it: this is me we're talking about here. I may as well try to sit in a different chair in the den. Hell, I've been walking or jogging by Max's favorite old bush nearly every day for nearly two years now, breaking my heart every time, because... well, that's my walking path. It's where I walk.

The boy needed a good jog, though, so yesterday morning we set out. And the closer we got to his old house, the more anxious I became. How would he react? Would he make a beeline for the front door? Would he assume he was going back to his old home?

I never would have predicted his actual reaction. He was fine the whole way there -- happy, energetic, playful, frolicky -- but as we passed that house, he put his head down, deliberately refused to look at it, and pulled me by with the intensity of an overpowered freight train until we were safely past.

Which puzzled me, really. He wasn't abused there. In fact, when people were home -- admittedly not a lot, but still -- he was doted on and loved almost as much as I dote on him and love him.

When we got to the next intersection, the weirdest thing happened. He stopped (inconceivable for this child when he's on a walk!), turned around, grabbed my hand, and pulled me down to his level for a great big head snuggled. And I'm still figuring out his vocabulary, but I think he was saying to me, "Things weren't bad there, but I don't want to go back. I choose you. You're my person now."

Whether that's what he was saying or not, I grinned like a crazy person for the rest of yesterday. I also got home, pulled out my phone, and changed the contacts for his old people. They used to be filed under "Bruno's Uncle" and "Bruno's Dad." Now they're proper people names. Because he's my family now. For reals. For sure. For good.

PS: We took another jog this morning, and you know what? We went a different way.

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