On Sunday, we opted to take the boys out for lunch since Brandon and I were exhausted and didn't feel like fixing anything.We invited Pop to go with us and told him we were planning on going for a swim afterward.He thought it was a good idea and agreed to join us.
Now that I knew what we were going to do, I pulled Ryan aside for a little chat."We're thinking about going out to lunch and then heading over to the pool again, but I wanted to ask you a question first.Are you ok with changing in the locker room this time, because I'm not sure what we might do afterward and don't want you wearing a wet swimsuit around again.We just won't go swimming if you're not ok with this."
He looked at me for a few seconds before answering."I'll give it a try.I know everyone else does it, so I guess I should be able to do it too."
"I know you're not comfortable with it, so if it's a problem we can just find something else to do instead."
"No, I want to swim, but I'm just worried there will be other people there too."
"Yes, there probably will be, but our family usually hogs up a row of lockers so everyone else uses a different row."
"So it will just be us when we're changing then?"
"Pretty much, although others may pass by.You can take a locker near the wall and face in that direction, if it would make you feel better."
"Maybe, but I'll have to think about that."
"So are you sure you're willing to do this?"
"Yeah, I'll give it a try."
After telling the other boys about what we'd planned, they went to get their swimsuits and a towel so we could pack everything together.When Ryan returned, he handed me the towel with his swimsuit on top, so I'd know that he meant what he'd said.After I placed them in the bag, we headed out to the SUV, with Pop riding with us this time.
We stopped at a local diner in town for lunch and then headed over to the Boys & Girls Club.I grabbed the duffle bag from the back before we went inside, but since we'd just eaten I took the boys to the game room first.They played table tennis and air hockey, as well as shooting pool.We did that for about an hour with the boys taking turns challenging Brandon and me, as well as each other. Pop got a kick out of teaching them how to use a cue stick and lining up their shots on the pool table, so everyone was having a good time.When I thought we'd waited long enough, I led them to the locker room to change.
"That was fun," Ryan stated as we were walking there, and then someone else added his two cents in agreement.
"Yeah, I've never done none of those things before," Benny chimed in.
"We've got all that same stuff in the rec room at home, so you could've, if you wanted to."
"But nobody told me about it or showed me how to use them."
"We can do that too, if you want," Joshie agreed."It's fun and we can do those things when Noah's playing his video games."
"Yeah, let's do that," Benny concurred.
After we entered the locker room to change, I watched Ryan out of the corner of my eye to see how he was doing.He slowly and carefully took off his clothes, while trying to hide as much as he could as he removed his briefs, but at least he was getting past the first hurdle.I also noticed he would occasionally glance around, but I wasn't sure if he was checking the rest of us out or if he was just trying to see if anyone was watching him.When he finished putting on his swimsuit, we headed out to the pool and jumped in.
As I bobbed to the surface, I turned to Brandon and spoke."So what did you think of what just happened?"
"You mean in the locker room?" he asked, uncertain if it was what I was getting at.
"Yes.I told him before we left the house that I wanted him to change in the locker room this time.He was reluctant but gave in, although he seemed more concerned about someone else coming into the locker room than he was with any of us seeing him naked."
"Yeah, I was surprised when I realized he hadn't worn his trunks under his jeans again, like he did the last time.He not only changed with the rest of us, but I think he was checking us out too.For someone who'd claimed he didn't want to see Joshie and Benny's junk before, it didn't appear to stop him from looking today."
"I noticed that as well, but it's good that he's letting down a few of his barriers."
"Yes, and hopefully this will help him feel closer to all of us and stop him from worrying that any of us are going to try something with him."
"I hope so too."
There was only one other guy in the pool when we got there, but he left shortly after we'd entered the water.He'd been swimming laps and must have figured he couldn't do that with the boys in the pool, so he got out and went to change.Once he was gone, I went over to check with the lifeguard about tossing the boys in the air again.It was the same lifeguard as before and he smiled as we spoke.
"Yeah, go ahead.Your kids seemed to have a good time doing it when you were here the last time, so I'll pretend not to see anything."
Since we had his approval, that's exactly what we did.Ryan loved doing this as much as Joshie and Benny, so they kept Brandon, Pop, and me busy.I even noticed Noah tossing Wyatt, although not nearly as high as we were doing, but he also did it for Joshie and Benny a few times too.That gave us a needed respite from time to time, but after about twenty minutes we decided to call it quits.
"That was fun," Ryan gasped as he swam over to us."Thanks for doing that with us."
When we decided to call it a day, we went to the locker room to wash off and change.I watched as Ryan shyly slipped out of his swimsuit, grabbed his towel, and wrapped it around his waist before heading to the shower.When he got there, he carefully removed the towel, hung it up, and then walked to a showerhead in the corner to rinse off the chlorine.He did his best to remain facing away from us, but at least he was doing it without making a fuss, which was another good sign.
After we finished, we went out and got dressed again, and that's when I thought about doing something else on the way back.I whispered to Brandon and Pop that I was going to stop at Friendly's for ice cream to reward Ryan, without telling him that's what we were doing.They agreed it was a good idea, so we stopped there before heading home.
The boys were thrilled that we did this, and I felt we'd all burned enough calories in the pool to be able to splurge.Ryan looked at me and grinned when the dish was set in front of him, and I knew it was because he was thinking about my comment about maybe stopping somewhere else on the way home.I felt he was glad he'd given in and didn't have wet jeans like before, because that might have been embarrassing.I thought this would be enough positive reinforcement to ensure we wouldn't have a problem on future outings.
I wasn't sure if Dion and Trey would be at the house when we arrived, but quickly noticed that their car wasn't in the driveway.Obviously they weren't back yet, so we went inside and I threw the wet items in the washing machine before Brandon and I began to fix something for dinner.
Dion and Trey showed up before we sat down to eat and came out to chat with us in the kitchen, after saying hello to the boys."So did you have a good time?" I asked.
"Yes, it was great!" Trey replied."Everything was perfect, including our room.It was elegant and had a king size bed that was super comfortable."
"And I'm sure it saw plenty of action," Brandon teased.
"Maybe," Trey responded shyly.
"And you wouldn't believe the shower.It had four different showerheads," Dion added, drawing our attention away from the bed.
"And I'm sure there was some action in there too, when you two showered together," Brandon joked.
"Damn, did you have spy cams in our room?" Trey shot back with a grin.
"Nah, it's just what we would have done.So how was everything else?"
"It was fabulous," Dion answered."They had several different restaurants that we could choose from, but we ate most of our meals at the buffet, except for Saturday night.That's when we went to their fanciest restaurant and had a super romantic dinner."
"Yes, there was a candle on the table, along with a lovely floral arrangement that had some small balloon hearts mixed in with the flowers," Trey added."We both had filet mignon and it was so tender that it melted in our mouths, and then we shared a Death By Chocolate for dessert."
"So other than spending time in your room doing who knows what, well maybe we know what you were up to," Brandon added with a wink, "but did you do anything else besides eat?"
"Hell, yes!" Dion responded."We spent time in the heated, indoor pool and pampered ourselves in the spa too."
"Yeah, we spent most of Saturday afternoon in the pool and spa," Trey confirmed, "and it was wonderful!"
"Well, we're glad you enjoyed yourselves and the boys were all great.There were no problems and we enjoyed our time with them."
When we sat down to eat, the boys had all kinds of questions for Dion and Trey too, but they only received the G-Rated answers to their questions.Joshie and Wyatt each wished their poppy Happy Birthday and asked if we were going to have cake and ice cream.
"His birthday isn't until tomorrow, so we'll do that after dinner tomorrow night," Dion answered. This seemed to placate them, so the boys began telling their fathers about their weekend with us.
After that, we spent the evening watching TV together, but this time Joshie and Wyatt sat with their fathers.After Benny made himself comfortable on Brandon's lap, we noticed Ryan was staring at us.I wasn't sure what he was thinking, but he soon let us know.
"Aren't you guys too old to be sittin' on their laps?"
"Nah, it's nice and we like doin' it," Benny answered.
"Yeah, we're just showin' that we love each other," Joshie chimed in.Ryan didn't look convinced, but he turned back to focus on the program instead.
When the shows ended, Trey offered to take Joshie and Benny up for their shower.I think this surprised all of us, because Trey hardly ever did this, so he must have missed the boys while they were away for the weekend.Joshie and Benny eagerly agreed and went upstairs with him, while Dion gave Wyatt a bath at the same time.
Shortly after they left, Ryan went up to take his shower too, and Noah headed up to his bedroom as well.Brandon and I waited until we heard Joshie and Benny going to their room, and then we went up to say goodnight to them.After we did that, we went up to say goodnight to the older pair.
We stopped at Noah's room first, and I took this opportunity to thank him for his help on Valentine's Day.
"Actually, I kind of liked doing it," he replied."I didn't have to do much, but it felt good knowing I was in charge."
"And we appreciate that there were no problems," I added, before we walked over to Ryan's room.
After knocking on his door and being told we could come in, I decided to confront him about something."Do you have a problem with Benny and Joshie sitting on our laps?"
"Nah, I just wondered why they still did it, cuz I thought they were too old."
"So do you still feel that way?"
"I'm not sure, but I don't think so.What they said kinda made sense, but I've just never done that with anyone before."
"So you never did anything like that with your parents?"
"Maybe when I was little, but not that I can remember.They weren't really around much, because they were always workin'.My dad had a good job when I was born, but he lost it when I was two or three.He didn't get another good job after that, so he had to work two jobs and still didn't make as much as he did before.My mom worked too, and then she spent the rest of her time workin' around the house."
"That's a shame, because doing those types of things helps children bond with their parents."After I said this he looked up at me thoughtfully, and then we told him goodnight and turned off the light as we left his room.
Nothing was said about this the next morning as the boys got ready for school, so I wasn't sure if Ryan was still thinking about what was said or if he'd merely put it behind him.I thought I might discover which was the case when we arrived home later.
Brandon and I didn't watch TV with the boys that evening either, because Dad called shortly after we'd finished celebrating Trey's birthday.Dion, Trey, Brandon, and I stuck around to listen in as Pop spoke to him, since the boys were already in the family room.Pop put the phone on speaker, but he did most of the talking.Dad called to tell us he'd purchased a ticket to fly home on Sunday, March first, and this time he was coming back for good.
We were all thrilled by this news and told the boys when we went in to send them up to shower and get ready for bed.They were all thrilled by the news too, although Ryan was more subdued than the others seeing he hadn't met Dad yet, but we knew his attitude would change once we introduced them.
At breakfast the following morning, Joshie and Noah both made comments about how it would be nice to have Grandpa Josh home again.Ryan listened, but didn't say anything, although he seemed noticeably surprised that the others were so excited about this.Hopefully, he'd come to be as close to his new grandfather as the others were.
After dinner that evening, we all agreed to go to the family room to watch TV again, but the boys went to get drinks to take in with them first.Dion and Trey were already seated in the two recliners, with Wyatt sitting on Dion's lap, while Pop sat in the rocking chair, so Brandon and I sat on the sofa.We were expecting Benny and Joshie to come in and sit on our laps, but before that happened Ryan walked up to us and spoke.
"Can I sit with you this time?"We were momentarily caught speechless as he waited for an answer.
"Sure, if you want," I agreed."Just decide how you want to do it."I responded that way because I wasn't sure if he wanted to sit next to us or on one of our laps, since we'd just discussed this.As I answered him, I also noticed Benny, Joshie, and Noah were watching what he was up to as well, because he'd walked into the family room ahead of them.
"Ummm, can I sit between you?" Ryan followed.This came as another mild surprise.
"Sure, if that's what you want to do," I concurred, as Brandon and I slid apart."It's just that we weren't expecting this."
"Yeah, I know, but I've never been around adults that paid attention to me before, except the guy who wanted me to do stuff that I didn't want to do.I kinda like this, because it makes me feel special, and I'm not worried that you're gonna make me do nasty stuff either."
We were pleased to hear him say this, although I wondered how much the other boys had overheard.I was curious if Ryan's comment might have been enough for them to start piecing things together, if they'd paid attention to what he'd said.They might have, because instead of sitting with us they all sprawled out on the floor to watch TV instead, allowing Ryan to have us all to himself.
"Make yourself comfortable," I urged, as I lifted an arm and placed it around his shoulders.He flinched at first, but then relaxed, and eventually I felt him leaning against me.Once the show started, everyone focused on the TV and didn't pay any more attention to what we were doing.
We watched a couple of shows sitting like that, and when the last one ended we sent the boys upstairs to get ready for bed.This time Dion was going to watch Benny and Joshie, so he left with them.Before he took off too, Ryan made a comment.
"Thanks, that was kinda nice.I'd never done nothin' like that before and I think Benny and Joshie might be right.It did make me feel closer to you guys."
"We're glad and we enjoyed it too," Brandon replied."You can sit with us anytime you'd like."Ryan smiled before he left to go upstairs.
As soon as he was out of sight, I turned to Brandon and spoke."He appears to be making progress and I'm very encouraged by what just happened."
"So am I," Brandon agreed."This might be a little easier than we thought."
"Maybe, but I'm not going to count my chickens before they hatch," I replied."This was a good start and I hope he continues moving in this direction, but I want to take a wait and see approach."
"Yeah, I know, but that was a huge step in the right direction."
We gave the boys a sufficient amount of time to get ready for bed before we went upstairs to say goodnight.Joshie and Benny were already in their rooms, so we stopped to bid them sweet dreams first.Then, we headed up to the third floor to make sure the older pair were in bed too.
Noah always acts like we don't need to do this any longer, but we can tell that he still enjoys the extra attention.After saying goodnight to him, we went over and knocked on Ryan's door.Even though he said we could come in, he was walking around in just his underwear getting his things ready for school.We were surprised that he'd let us enter while he was like that, but maybe after changing with us in the locker room he was starting to let down his guard.
"I'm just about done, so I'll be ready to get in bed in a second," he offered.
"Take your time.We don't want you to forget anything you'll need for class," Brandon responded.
As soon as he was done, he climbed into bed and we wished sweet dreams before turning off the light and leaving his room.
"The boy continues to amaze me," I said as we walked down the stairs.
"Yeah, when I saw how he was dressed I thought he was going to throw a fit."
"Me too!So the time with us in the locker room must have helped."
Thursday was hectic at work, so I was kind of tired by the time we sat down for dinner.Luckily, I was still lucid enough to hear Ryan when he asked us a question."Are you going to watch TV with us tonight?"
"We can.We were planning on relaxing anyway, and there are a couple of shows that we normally like to watch."
"Good.Then can I sit with you again?"I quickly looked over at Brandon, but I also noticed the expressions on the boys' faces as well.They seemed to be surprised that Ryan wanted to sit with us again.
"Sure, if that's what you want to do."
"Yeah, it was kinda nice last time."
When we went into the family room later, Ryan sat between us again, but this time Benny and Joshie came over and stood in front of us too.
"Can we sit on your laps?" Benny asked.It was obvious that they were feeling left out.
"Sure, one of you can sit on my lap and the other on Brandon's."This seemed to make them happy, so we all prepared to watch our shows together.
I think Dion and Trey were a little surprised to see the boys with us on the sofa when they came in a few minutes later, but they didn't say anything.They had stayed behind to clean up the kitchen and put the dishes in the dishwasher, so they hadn't witnessed what transpired.They merely looked at us bewildered and shook their heads slightly, before taking their usual seats in the recliners, and this time Wyatt sat with Trey.
When the programs ended, we sent the boys up to shower, and Trey went with Benny and Joshie this time, while Dion gave Wyatt his bath.Brandon and I waited a few minutes before we went up to tuck them in, and we said goodnight to Joshie and Benny first.Ryan was just coming out of the bathroom when we got to this room, with only a towel wrapped around his waist.
"Oh, I guess I'm slow tonight," he said, but we were surprised he wasn't freaking out.
"That's ok, we'll wait," I told him.
"Nah, come on in," he said, as he walked over to his dresser and pulled out a clean pair of underwear.Then he dropped his towel and put them on with us in the room with him.
I think Brandon and I were both slightly dumbfounded by this, and then we watched as he moved over to the bed and got in.He didn't say anything and merely smiled at us as we walked over to the bed to wish him sweet dreams.
After going downstairs again, Brandon looked at me and spoke."Well, that was definitely a surprise."
"Yes, it was.He kept his back to us for the most part, but it was still remarkable."
"I wonder why the sudden change?He's certainly acting out of character lately."
"That's true, so maybe the swimming has something to do with it.Whatever the reason, I just hope he continues showing progress."
On Friday, Ryan sat with us again when we watched TV and seemed to be more comfortable doing it now.After the movie ended, we sent the boys upstairs to get ready for bed.When we went up to tuck them in, though, we were in for a little surprise.As we were coming out of Benny's bedroom and closing the door behind us, we saw Ryan standing in the hallway waiting to ask us a question.
"So you do that every night?"
"Yes, we do, and Dion and Trey do it with us most nights, since Joshie is their son."
"I thought so, cuz I've watched you a bunch of times from that room over there, so I could see what yuh were doin'."
Even though we hadn't noticed what Ryan had been up to all week, it turns out that he'd been hiding in Noah's old room while the younger pair were taking their shower.Then, he would watch us as we tucked them in and patiently remained there until we were done.When we went upstairs to say goodnight to Noah, Ryan would sneak up to the third floor to shower.That's why we'd been catching him coming out of the bathroom so often that week, after we'd finished saying goodnight to Noah first.
"It looks kinda nice and Benny and Joshie act like they enjoy it too," Ryan added.I think that comment surprised both of us.
"Yes, they like it when we tuck them in at night," Brandon followed.
"Ummm, I guess I wouldn't mind if you wanted to do that for me too then," he followed, while looking slightly nervous.I wasn't sure if it was because he was worried about what else we might do when we tucked him in, or if he was afraid we'd say 'no'.
"Sure.We can do that if you want," Brandon agreed.
"Yeah, I think I'd like to try it.I've never had anyone do that for me before, least not that I can remember, and I was kinda wondering what it would be like."
"Then you'll soon find out," I concurred as we followed him to his room.
Surprising us yet again, Ryan stripped down to his underwear right in front of us, without seeming self-conscious in the least.Then, Brandon pulled the bedding back, waited for him to climb into bed, and then covered him up.Ryan had a huge smile on his face as Brandon tucked the bedding around him and then we both said goodnight, wished him sweet dreams, and prepared to leave the room.
"Aren't you gonna kiss me too, like you did with Benny and Joshie?"
"We didn't think you'd want us to do that," I replied, surprised yet again.
"Yeah, I'd like to try that too, but only on the head or cheek, not on the lips."
"Sure, that will be fine, because we kiss Joshie and Benny on the forehead too," Brandon agreed as he bent over and kissed him gently.Then I did the same.
"Night, Dads," Ryan said as we were leaving.
"Goodnight, son," we both replied before walking out of his bedroom and shutting the door behind us.
When we got downstairs, we filled Dion and Trey in about what had happened and they were just as shocked as we'd been.
"Not only has he changed in front of us, but now he wants us to tuck him in too.He even wanted us to kiss him before we left," Brandon stated in disbelief.
"Maybe I can understand why he doesn't mind changing in front of us, since I'd seen everything when I gave him his physical and he's been changing in the locker room with all of us.But that doesn't explain why he suddenly wanted us to tuck him in and kiss him goodnight."
"I'd say he feels more comfortable now," Dion added, "but it's still quite a change."
"Yes, it is, and I hope he doesn't revert back to the boy who first arrived here," I agreed.
Brandon and I couldn't stop talking about what had happened for the rest of the night, because we couldn't imagine what had prompted this sudden change.We ended up concluding that it might have only been a one time thing, just so he could see what it was like, so we wouldn't say anything more about it to him.We were afraid that if we did then he might be embarrassed and reverse course, so we'd just wait and see what he did next.