How can you make a two year old understand that he is loved and safe? That is a question Peter has been tossing around all afternoon. He is so afraid that he will do or say something to scar the little boy for life. He knows that Neal was damaged, before, when he was a child. For all his charm and apparent confidence, swagger in his walk and panty dropping smile, Neal Caffrey was still a frightened little boy even at the age of 35. For your father to abandon you when you are three is something Peter will never understand. He loved his own father so much, and he knew his father loved him, without a doubt. He would never abandon Neal, never. He and Elizabeth would tackle this head on and do whatever needed to be done for as long as it needed to be done. Even if Neal never changed back into his former self.
Listening to Neal cry down the hall is just about to break his heart. Elizabeth had told him that routine was what children needed and actually wanted. Right now though he was having a hard time believing that. Usually when Elizabeth put him down for the night he fussed a little but within a couple of minutes he would put a little thumb in his mouth, quiet down and go right to sleep. But not tonight, the one night Elizabeth decided she's going out with her girlfriends. No, she wouldn't be gone all night, but it will probably be a few more hours before she gets home and he can't just let Neal cry until then. Can he? Of course he can't !
"What's wrong buddy? Shhh, shhhh, shhhh, daddy's here, daddy's got you," Peter says as he turns on the light in the nursery. Neal is still crying but starts easing up a bit with shuddering little breaths, tear tracks shining down his rosy little cheeks. He holds his arms out and Peter reaches to pick him up taking him under his arms and securing one of his own arms under his bottom. "Oh, well, here is part of the problem, you're wet! Oh my goodness, well, we'll fix that right now. Come on now, settle down, I'd cry too baby boy. I know, I know, that's uncomfortable, daddy's gonna fix it right now."
Peter feels horrible that he has listened to his baby cry for almost 45 minutes and it was a cry for help. He had done everything Elizabeth had told him to do. It's not like he hasn't had one on one time with Neal since he became a baby, he had, but he hasn't learned to read his cries like El has. She knows the difference in a hungry cry, a wet cry, a tired cry, a mad cry and an all out temper tantrum. They all sounded the same to Peter, but he had followed her directions to the letter. He had played with Neal and then fed him, bathed him, and he thought he had rocked him to sleep, but the minute he laid him down the fussing started, and then the crying. Oh the crying. He prayed he would stop and in all honesty, he hadn't cried the entire time. He'd stop and Peter would release a breath he hadn't noticed he was holding, then in a couple of minutes he'd start up again. Parenthood was stressful.
"You really soaked that one buddy, we've got to get you some dry jammies too. Daddy is so sorry. He didn't understand what you needed. He's gonna get better though buddy, I promise." Neal has stopped sobbing, but every now and then a huge crocodile tear would escape from the corner of one of his big blue eyes. Neal's eyes are so blue and so big, but they look even more so now that those same eyes and eyelashes are wet with tears. Sometimes Peter thinks Neal can see everything with those eyes, well, maybe not everything, but he bets they don't miss much! Peter sets about getting they boy changed and getting some cream for a bottom that is a tad red from a wet diaper.
"How about we rock for a while little man? Would you like that?" Neal nods his head and Peter lifts him off the changing table and heads to the rocker in the corner. He sits down and gets Neal settled with his head in the crook of his arm and the other underneath him so that he could pat his bottom. That always seemed to comfort him. It was quiet except for the occasional creak from the rocking chair. Peter noticed that Neal's thumb had found it's way back to his mouth and every now and then when Neal's eyes would roll back in his head and his eyes would threaten to close, he would actually suck it. He thought that was so cute. El had gotten quite a few pictures of Neal in his new state. Pictures that Peter was sure he would be able to torture Neal with when he turned back into his 35 year old self, IF he turned back into his 35 year old self