February 8, 2010. I’ve heard that love is like a flower, that it will always bloom if carefully tended with the right amount of sun, water and nutrients. Although a lovely idea, I think an asterisk is in order: remove rocks and roots before tilling, weed daily, and don’t forget to protect against deer, raccoons and rabbits. My son teaches me daily that it’s the backbreaking work that makes love blossom. Today he offers a refresher course. Angry over being sent to his room because he wouldn’t stop teasing and whacking Sophie, he poops and throws very soiled toilet paper on the bathroom floor, expertly smearing his feces into the tile and grout. Knowing exactly how he came to rediscover this vehicle of communication, I direct my anger inward. At the pediatric urologist’s last Monday, the nurse practitioner asked not only about his behaviors and habits surrounding the immediate problem of his urinary incontinence, but also whether and in what manner he had ever experienced bowel incontinence. Trying to handle the information discretely, especially because Peter was present, I casually explained how he used to smear feces on himself, his bed, and his room the first years he was home. I should have known I was opening up another Pandora’s box. He had completely and forever forgotten this information and I should have insisted he leave the room so that the memory would not be triggered. When Pat and I confront him with this latest and shocking offense, he tries to blame Pippin, our newest rescue pup. How and why he thinks we’ll believe a little dog managed to wipe his bottom and throw soiled toilet paper on the floor is unclear. What is clear is that Peter’s brain is volatile and his self-destructive impulses are always poised to look for weaknesses in the armor that the constant and potent combination of Lithium, Risperdal, Tenex, and Lamical coursing through his bloodstream provides. Sophie is so upset by the incident, discovered five minutes before we sit down to dinner, that she wets her pants for the first time in 3 years. I love my son, I never doubt that now, but I do question my ability to help him bloom. In many ways, Peter is like a Morning Glory, whose petals bask in the sunshine during the day only to close on themselves at night, when predators lurk and dangers abound. The problem with Peter is the signals that shut him down largely fire at random. He winds up missing so much of the sunshine in life.