He was on his second window and I should have been on my third glass of wine. Wine seemed to work for the other mothers. I’d hear them talking about it at school functions and park days. Most were partial to Merlot, while others chose a fine Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. Such envy I felt, that they had a socially acceptable drug of choice, a way to escape the boxy constraints of modern life. Wine didn’t work for me. I had to resort to flirting with checkers at the farmer’s market for any kind of kick. Max was a White Zinfandel. Trevor was my Pinot Grigio. Both were a poor substitute for genuine happiness.
Only nine years old, he’d already broken four windows. His bedroom window was first, a football trophy thrown through its right corner. Next, was the laundry room window, which buckled under his angry fists. Then, came the kitchen window with a fantastic crash, my mother’s antique teapot hurled with hurricane force. Last, was his bedroom window for round two. We carefully bandaged the cuts on his knuckles. They weren’t enough to go to the doctor about. I applied a bandage to the marks he’d left on my hands, while trying to restrain him when he stole a neighbor’s bike and rode away, without a helmet, toward a busy street.
I knew it wasn’t the medicine's fault that he broke the window. It had been eight months since our first try with medication and it hadn’t been the magic sauce I’d hoped for. Most days, I was certain he was swallowing expensive, artificially colored placebos. They weren’t any more effective than the years I’d spent dosing him with a natural, organic whole foods diet. I didn’t plan on pursuing medication, until he began talking about decapitation. First, he said he’d gauge out my eyes. Then, he’d construct a metal device that would insert around my heart, pull it out, and he’d eat it for supper.
This wasn’t psychosis, the woman administering the psychiatric tests assured, he simply had a bad temper – a temper worse than she’d ever seen, a volatile temper the DSM had yet to pinpoint for children. When I wouldn’t allow him to stay up an extra half hour, he’d rip apart the living room. When he couldn’t calm down for bedtime stories, he make munching noises, pulling invisible organs from my midsection and telling me he hoped I died. When tired, he’d fashion a childlike rhyme about my death and the chanting would calm him. Ten minutes later, he’d be contrite – holding me tight in his arms, begging me to forgive him, telling me I was the best mommy anyone could have or ever wish for.
Most nights, I fell asleep imagining Trevor would swoop in on a white horse and rescue us, with the answer to all the world’s problems. I knew a white horse was generic, but simply lacked the energy to imagine anything else. I dreamt of white pills, blue pills, pink pills. I dreamt I was dancing and laughing, yet often woke sticky with sweat. Still, come morning, my resolve would grow strong as an oak tree. “Let’s think positive today,” I’d remind him, “Let’s only think about the good things.” He would nod in agreement, until he’d notice I hadn’t given him the cereal he wanted, for breakfast. His nails dug angrily into my arm would leave little smiley face shapes. I’d take his fingertips into my hands and kiss them. I’d remind him that I knew the real him, the loving boy he was inside. His blue eyes would sparkle, then turn as grey as the clouds in his head.
published 3 July 2013