When Rain Hurts by Mary Evelyn Greene

June 8, 2013

June 8, 2013

Peter's Pokemon drawing (June 7, 2013)

Peter’s Pokemon drawing (June 7, 2013)

June 8, 2013.  The saddest and most telling thing happened yesterday.  I normally make the long drive back and forth from Peter’s school on the weekends but Pat brought him home this time.  Peter was drawing a Pokemon dragon in the backseat, and then out of nowhere, began sobbing uncontrollably.  Pat had to pull the car over on the Taconic.  Having no idea what was wrong, he just held our son until he calmed.  It turns out that Peter thought he’d ruined his picture by coloring the dragon wings with a ballpoint pen.  He didn’t like how it looked.  When he walked in the house, Pat still lingering outside, I knew immediately something was wrong.  His normally happy-to-see-me-face had transformed into a portrait of childhood devastation.  Pat did his best to relay what happened, but I didn’t quite get it until I saw the drawing.  And then bam, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  It’s the best thing that Peter’s ever drawn, hands down.  It’s clear that in those few minutes, holed up in the quiet monotony of the backseat, all cylinders were firing.  What breaks my heart is that Peter knew it, too.  I know he did.  I could see it in his eyes.  He thought he had lost the moment, that opportunity to ride the wave of his own capacity until the switch of disability shut down the access.  He doesn’t have that many of these moments, perfect spurts of neurotypicality, and he’s now smart enough, and mature enough, to recognize when he does (as well as when he doesn’t).  How he must thirst for those feelings of completeness within himself.  I hate that mournful look in his eyes, the look that tells me he appreciates that he can’t always accomplish what he sets out to do.  His anguish in the car came not from frustration but from fear, the real fear that he wouldn’t be able to reproduce that drawing again if his life depended on it.  Peter’s journey is one of fits and starts, and though he’s made great progress, he has come to appreciate that it’s a rockier road than most.  I know his burgeoning self-awareness is good, developmentally important even, but I selfishly wish it were absent.  11-year olds shouldn’t have to bear the weight of their disabilities, especially ones thrust upon them not by chance but by prenatal recklessness and post-natal deprivation and neglect.  But  I can’t shield him from himself, not in the end.  So instead, Pat and I reassure him that the drawing is still superb.  I make sure and post it on Facebook so as to provide tangible proof of our parental pride.  It’s a wonderful drawing, and not with the caveat “for a kid with special needs”.   Normally his drawings are a bit nonsensical, they lack cohesion and are disjointed and difficult to interpret.  Often imposing one figure on top of another, I’m never sure whether that’s how he sees the world – a layered abstraction that has meaning only for him, or whether it’s simply a problem transferring thought to paper.  But yesterday he got it right.  Now I have to gently steer him toward a more confident belief that it wasn’t just an anomaly.  That he has many varied and wonderful abilities that he indeed is learning to access more reliably.  And perhaps more importantly, that he will succeed when he sets his mind to it and not just when the window randomly opens.  But that’s a lesson learned over time, and I didn’t want to bore him with a lecture or overdue the praise and make him even more self-conscious. So instead I kiss the top of his head (which I won’t be able to do much longer) and ask about the rest of his day.  My brave boy takes the cue and I listen carefully as events unfold before me.  



  1. Tell Peter his drawing is awesome – you might even show him how to trace a new one to try again or rub pencil on the back and draw on top to transfer to another sheet and give it another go – that’s what we professional artists do when we do something that doesn’t work how we want it… I love it and I am an artist.
    Give him a BIG hug!

    A super statement Mary 11-year olds shouldn’t have to bear the weight of their disabilities, especially ones thrust upon them not by chance but by prenatal recklessness and post-natal deprivation and neglect. I can’t shield him from himself, however, not in the end.

    Comment by Jodee Kulp — June 8, 2013 @ 8:51 pm | Reply

    • Jodee, that’s a great idea re tracing, etc. I will suggest this once he’s not feeling so sensitive about what happened. As always, thanks for your words of wisdom and your continual support. I hope you are doing well! Mary

      Comment by whenrainhurts — June 9, 2013 @ 8:45 am | Reply

  2. Thank you for posting. My son is 18 and has been home for 17 years. I love him, but this love has come at a terrible price. I put him in therapy after therapy for years and I do think it has helped but he is still so compromised. He looks totally normal but still cannot write his own name at times. He is one big impulse with no filter whatsoever. I remember him becoming aware that he was different from other kids and the hurt in his eyes when he realized it, probably right around Peter’s age now. He is living with his father, who I divorced after years of him not dealing with the reality of our son’s issues. His father still says he doesn’t see the issues I see – so who is compromised- he or I? Having a hard morning today. Love my kids but want to be clear-headed too.

    Comment by Jennifer — June 9, 2013 @ 7:46 am | Reply

    • Hang in there, Jennifer. Lots of kids like ours make tremendous strides in their early to mid-20s. I have seen and read this over and over. I hope this happens for you and your son. Thanks for writing – Mary

      Comment by whenrainhurts — June 13, 2013 @ 6:05 pm | Reply

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