How do I know this? Because he's still using it. He's still asking strangers for candy and money and trinkets, and it usually works. Except when we're around to intervene.
Our son's behavior is both heartbreaking and mortifying, and there's not a lot we can do about it. Logically you would think the act of bringing him into our home, showering him with love and affection, and providing for his every need would be enough to squelch those survivalist tendencies. But it isn't. No amount of niceness on our behalf is going to undo the trauma he experienced early in life. Only time and professional counceling can do that.
What we want you all to know is that when you give our son a little gift, something that to a healthy child would be a simple gesture, he does not think you are not giving him a trinket. He thinks that you are giving him a handout that he needs for survival. And now you're an easy mark that he can keep coming back to for more. Screw the fact that he has parents to meet his needs, he still wants a hand out.
For those of you who come into contact with our child, or any child with a tramatic social history for that matter, we'd like to propose a simple gift giving guideline. Unless every child in the room is getting something, we don't want anyone to give our son anything. Be it a dime, a hershey kiss, a match box car, or anything else he might ask for. Otherwise it will take us weeks to convince him that your soul purpose in life is not to bring him presents. If he asks you for anything, please tell him no and send him back to us with his request.
I hate that we have to tell you all this, we know that you love our little boy and want good things for him too. We know you think your little gifts are harmless. We wish they were. Maybe some day they can be. But until then, we have to protect that little vulnerable spot in his heart. And we are so grateful that you understand.