Sunday, November 27, 2011

Derek is Derek, only shorter

My sister and brother-in-law came down for the Thanksgiving holiday with their three children.  The kids had not seen Derek since before he deployed in March.  There was no concern over Joey, who is 16, but there were concerns over how AJ and Eric would handle seeing Derek.  AJ is 10 and Eric is 12.

It went beautifully.  AJ was attached to Derek's side for the four days that they were here.  He begged his mother to stay longer.  Today, he turned to me and said, "Derek is still Derek, even without legs.  He's just shorter."

Kids are resilient.  They see the world different than adults, and they adjust faster.  Also, things that seem life ending to us, are nothing to them.  We should give them more credit and stop the wimpification of our youth with this "everyone must win" way of thinking and protecting their self esteem at all costs.  The world is hard.  They need to learn it when they are young and resilient.  An insensitive clod said to my friend's daughter about her father who is a double amputee and simply awesome, "When your Daddy returns to normal," and she responded, "My Daddy IS normal."  It's this resiliency that helps them adapt to this new normal.

I have often said "we have our Derek back," but what does that mean?  Who is Derek?  I have stated his funny little daily comments in here previously, and his days living in delusion due to medications are previously documented; however, Derek probably didn't need the drugs to make him say cooky things.  I am not going to repeat all of the things previously said, I hope.  If I do, I apologize.

Derek is the kid who got through high school on his personality alone.  He certainly never cracked a book.  He walked the halls in the beginning of the year with a backpack containing a notebook and a pen.  By the end of the year, he was down to an empty backpack.  He passed classes based on his smile, not his wealth of knowledge. 

One teacher wrote to me after this event in July 2011 changed our lives and said that she assigned a research paper on a media personality who had an impact on the world.  She wanted the students to pick a politician.  Derek convinced her that an MMA fighter was a perfect choice.

Derek said to me when he was young, "Did an old lady anywhere ever call baseball basketball?"  That was his way of thinking.

One day, when driving past a school, he turned to me and said, "Why are there school buses at the school?"  He was about 13 at the time.

Ryan, my 17 yr old, has a hole in his chest.  It is an indentation in the middle of his chest where it is actually sunken in.  We had it checked by a doctor, and since there are no health risks associated with it and it is simply cosmetic, the doctors do not recommend corrective surgery, because the surgery is life threatening.  Anyway, Ryan awoke one morning to Derek pouring cereal into the hole and telling him to lie still while he got the milk.  Derek proceeded to eat cereal out of Ryan's chest hole.

Derek kept a pet spider in his room.  It was just a spider he caught and fed.  I didn't know about it.

Derek also had a pet bumblebee.  It was a dead bumblebee he found and kept.

While Derek was in Afghanistan he drank two bottles of soda and got so hyper he ran around the COP in his boxers with sunscreen on his nose thinking he was a lifeguard.

When a kid who was fighting with one of my other children threatened me, he came out of his room with a baseball bat.  Not wanting him to do anything that might affect his future, since it was his 21st birthday, I refused to tell him where the kid lived.  He snuck out and had my son Ryan show him where the kid lived.  He marched the kid about a quarter mile back to my house to make him apologize to me.

When my daughter Kellina was in the backyard with a boy, he stood at the window upstairs with a huge knife.  He sliced it across his throat and pointed at the boy.  Then he took a large teddy bear, stuck the knife in its head, tied a rope around its neck and lowered it from the window with a sign that said, "You if you hurt her."

In our former house, we had a pool in the backyard.  He dragged Krystina out onto the cover in the winter and forced her to "skate" on the ice. 

Krystina and I went to Fort Drum to visit with Derek.  I asked him if there was a gas station on or close to base, because I was very low.  He told me "yes" that we would pass it.  He then tried to hand me a $20 bill.  I told him to hold it until we got to the station.  He sat back and stayed quiet all the way back to the hotel.  When I got there I asked him where that station was, and he said it was when he was handing me the money.  Really?  I was supposed to read his mind?

Also, while we were at Fort Drum, he told us he wanted to go to the Syracuse Mall on Saturday, which is an hour from Drum.  He also said that on Sunday, we were attending church with his platoon.  While we were at the Mall, he said the church was near the mall.  I told him he should have told me that in the morning, because we would have checked out of the hotel and stayed in Syracuse for the night instead of driving from Drum to Syracuse to Drum to Syracuse to Drum and then to Jersey (which is past Syracuse) all in two days time!  His response?  "We have a communication problem."  Yeah!  You don't communicate!

Derek said to Krystina, "After much observation, it is not optimum for my tasting pleasure when you put too much ice in my cup."

When he was still on the liquid diet, he said, "Hash browns are like mashed potatoes, and I can eat mashed potatoes, so I can eat hash browns."

Derek wants to live his life in a ranch style house, with an underground living space furnished with guns and a stockpile of food.  He and Krystina will be extreme couponers.  There will be a farm in back where they will milk their own cows and have their own chickens.  The house will also be completely green and self sufficient with a well and its own energy source, such as solar panels.  This is all in preparation for the zombie apocalypse.  

Derek has an awesome sense of humor that is helping him adjust to his new normal.  He has his moments when he is overwhelmed thinking about the future and what he plans to do with his life.  Today, he was having a moment thinking about all of the dreams that were dead, but then he turned around and said he wanted to own a pawn, antique and oddities shop.

Going back into his room Derek announced, "Assemble the team, I am ready for my sleeping quarters."  The nurses still talk about Derek's singing and wiggling while being changed.

Derek really has the party room on the floor.

Derek has the resiliency, innocence and sense of humor of a child.  He will do fine. 

And AJ put it best. 

Derek is Derek, only shorter.

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