This broken pencil is all that’s left of a nearly two hour battle that took place in our home tonight. A battle that raged inside the mind of my oldest child.
My oldest son is athletic and funny and quiet and shy. He is a 4th grader who likes to be around his friends and wear Under Armor everything and cheer for the Huskers. He loves blue and gold and all things SC. He loves football and running and grossing me out with his mouth guard after a long practice. My son is all these things and more and I love him deeply. But my son also has ADD/ADHD. If you don’t know much about ADD/ADHD (like myself a few short months ago) then you’d never even imagine that he could be affected by it. I thought ADD/ADHD was just a kid who never sat still and was always on the move. I never knew that it could look like a quiet boy who flies under the radar and appears to just not care about school. Like a little boy who was, what we thought, just being extremely stubborn. Like a little boy that would hit and kick and scream even though he was almost through his first decade of life. We just never knew.
But God works all things for His good and in His time. And He made things clear to my husband and I when He knew we could come together as a team and handle them. My sweet little boy is facing a lot of struggles in this phase of growing up. He is a good head or more shorter than everyone else his age and he struggles to feel confident even though he is an amazing athlete, can run faster than most and has more muscles than literally anyone I know. His brain refuses to let him see the good. But what plagues him the most is his inability to let go. To let go of a no, or a not now, or something that he views as unfair. His little mind sinks its claws in deep and will not let him go.
In the past 9 months we’ve been to numerous doctor visits and therapy appointments and have made big improvements in school. But that anger that bubbles over within him at the drop of a hat, that’s something that’s a lot harder to get control of. When he found something to be unfair tonight, the war was on. You can see it in his eyes. A look of sinking, of drowning in an ocean of his own thoughts and actions. Normally this would take hours to run its course. But tonight. Tonight something worked.
It may not ever work again, but as he was in the depths of his ocean I gave him permission to break that pencil that was in his hand that he’d been threatening me with. To give it all he had. And when he was done with that he could go grab another. And another. And as many as he needed to get all that anger out. And when he screamed that he’d probably get in trouble for that I gently told him I’d rather buy a thousand pencils and he break them all than to have him feeling this way. That anger needed a path out of him and tonight we found it.
After breaking the pencil we both punched his pillow a few times and he screamed into the sheets. We got every last ounce of that anger out of his body. And while a year ago I would have been horrified to see him acting that way and “disrespecting” our home like that. Tonight I was grateful. Tonight he found a way to be physical without being physical towards me. He found a way to give his emotions a voice without screaming the most hurtful words I’ve ever had to hear. Tonight, he was reassured that he is loved, and wanted, and although he may have some obstacle to overcome, they are not unconquerable.
He was made for a purpose by a loving God. And He is writing a beautiful story for my son. One of difficulty that I’ve never know, but also one of victory. Victory over this battle. Victory over this body that tries to fail him. Victory over death if he believes what Jesus did for him on the Cross. So tonight, tonight I am oh so thankful for that broken pencil. For a God who cannot be broken. For a God of second chances. For a God that does not give up on us. For a God that is showing me how to love and parent this boy that at time seems unlovable. God is the author of our family’s story and I am ever so thankful that I can trust him to sustain us through this trying time.