Decoding Drew

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

When I heard that baby scream the second the doctor pulled him out, I laughed and said, "Lord, help us!" I knew then that we were in for it, but I had no idea how true that actually was. Almost seven years after the fact, I'm not laughing when I earnestly plead, " us..."

Life with Drew has never been easy or simple. He's always appeared to be a mystery to us; a seemingly impossible puzzle to figure out. When he was an infant, he screamed for hours on end before we realized he was in pain. Even after he was diagnosed, he was still tough to care for. We kept telling ourselves, "Things will be better after he's one." But one turned into two, two to three, three to four, and so on. Now he's six going on seven, giving us the same amount of difficulty, only in a bigger, stronger body.

Now, before I go on, I have to plead with you to understand and know I adore my sons -- both of them -- with much fervor. Both have their own strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. God created them to each be amazing little people. Drew, in particular, can be a goofy, sweet, and cuddly little boy. But when he isn't those things, that's when there are issues. When Drew isn't Drew. When Drew becomes someone else entirely.

When Drew becomes Anti-Drew, it isn't just bad behavior or the occasional spat with his brother we have to worry about. He completely loses himself and all control. This sometimes causes issues at school, which can include anywhere from minor meltdowns and silent protests to kicking chairs and slamming doors. He's even been threatened to be sent home early, as a last resort. Once, his teachers had to follow through and I had to come collect him, mid-day. He becomes belligerent, spiteful, and physically violent at times. He has been known to not only scream at us, but also kick, scratch, pinch, punch, and slap his brother and father. We often have to physically restrain him to keep him from hurting himself or us.

For some reason, I am off limits. We share a lot of the same life challenges and struggles; the same anxieties and personality traits -- good and bad. We are kindred spirits and share a deep connection. I'm grateful for that and try to use that connection to reach him. It's hit and miss, as I'm still trying to figure myself out at the same time. While we have had a lot of minor victories, we also have defeats. Last night was one of them.

We just recently updated our Wii to a Wii U -- a HUGE treat in our house that we badly needed after a hard, depressing January. We have greatly enjoyed introducing the boys to some of the games Matt and I used to play often and we really love to play games as a family, in general. Rob had lost the privilege of playing last night, so Drew got to play with Daddy alone. We explained to him that he would be allowed to play a couple races on Mario Kart and then it was time for bed. He agreed.

We noticed he was starting to lose his composure as soon as said races were finished, so I calmly told him, "Drew, we agreed. It's time for bed." He started to cry and walk away, controller in his hand. "Drew, time to put the controller back. If you choose to fight, you'll lose game privileges for tomorrow."


"I WILL play tomorrow," he says, squaring himself up with me. Matt and looked at each other, knowing the drill. We have found that immediately removing him from the situation and taking him to a bedroom to try and talk him down has proven successful in times past. But as soon as he saw us get up, he slammed the controller into the remote drawer and ran for his room. Matt followed him to his room and he started talking calmly to him. But Drew wasn't in the mood to talk. He wanted to rumble. He started screaming at Matt some more and ended up back in the living room, where he continued to disrespect his father. I admit, I lost my temper and took him by his ear to my bedroom at that point. I have no patience for disrespect. As soon as he sat down on our bed, he began kicking and punching Matt. Matt restrained him and we set in to wait him out, but he was in it for the long run. He continued to scream at us and kick and pinch Matt. At this point, Rob knocked on our door. We dismissed him, but he persisted. I held Drew so Matt could go to the door, discovering a highly distraught Rob on the other side. "I'm worried about Drew," he said, tears streaming down his face. He wasn't afraid of us hurting Drew, I assure you. He was afraid of Drew going too far and ending up hurting himself. Despite how Drew mistreats his brother, Rob deeply loves him.

Matt told Rob to head to bed and came back to assist me with Drew. We both laid on either side of him, holding his arms and legs as he struggled against us, yelling in our faces. Matt and just held on and told him how much we loved him. He was becoming overheated in his favorite footie pajamas, so I unzipped him and placed my hand on his chest. I could feel his heart frantically beating like a scared little bird in a cage. I begged him to take a deep breath and calm down, but he continued to fight, blankly staring at the ceiling.

Reality set in. One day he'll be bigger and stronger and we won't be able to restrain him or fend him off. Given the amount of blind rage he was expressing, we would have been dead at this point. The thought broke my heart and I lost my composure and began to cry. "You're making your mother cry," Matt softly whispered to him. Suddenly, I felt Drew's body relax. I looked up and saw two tear-filled eyes staring back at me. All I could think at that moment was, "He does care. Thank God, he cares. He doesn't want to be like this. There's hope."

We finally got our Drew back, if only for a moment, a day, or a week. The only comfort and hope we can take away from these fights is that eventually he'll come back to us, usually because he is too tired to keep fighting. I have never witnessed him give in because he felt bad for making one of us sad. Rob joined us in our bedroom again and we all hugged and loved on Drew at the same time. We had nothing but love and compassion for him at that moment.

I wish I knew how to help him better, but for now, we're striving to understand and love on this boy we all adore so dearly. God is revealing more about him to me every day, thus revealing more of myself. We are growing and healing together, and someday, hopefully, we'll both be happy, whole people. Until then, we struggle together. Please pray for us all.