First, steroids make Tucker's face swell. Not in a weird elephant-man way, but more like a chipmunk storing acorns for the winter (Do chipmunks eat acorns? Let's say yes for the sake of the simile). Since he's a pretty scrawny little boy, the chipmunk face is pretty noticeable and quite adorable.
But that's where the cuteness ends.
Steroids take some of Tucker's personality traits and exacerbate them a great deal. For example, Tucker is a very smart little boy, a fact that he gladly shares on a regular basis by correcting other people and explaining random facts for no apparent reason. Today while we sat in the car wash he named 29 of the 44 U.S. presidents in seven minutes by playing Sporcle on my iphone. Perhaps it was the steroids that helped him remember people like Garfield and Taft.
In addition, he feels the need to make sure I know that he knows how to do virtually everything. Last night I was putting a DVD on for him and Keaton, and after I pushed "play" the next screen came up asking whether we wanted widescreen or normal screen (or whatever the second choice is called). Before I could even consider my screen choices, Tucker shouted at me, "You have to push play again! You have to pick a screen size! You're not done!"
It's a good thing he was there to yell instructions because I've never started a DVD before in all my 33 years of life. Arrrrggghhhhh!!!
As I said, these are some of his normal personality traits that just seem more pronounced since he started the drugs. But perhaps the most distinctive side effect of the steroids is the uninhibited rage displayed by my seven year old.
On day two of the 'roids, Keaton was asking Tucker a question about something, and Tucker was, of course, completely ignoring him as is his custom. Suddenly Tucker turned into the Incredible Hulk, veins bulging from his neck and forehead, fire shooting from his eyes, and from his mouth came this terrible demon voice screaming "MAKE HIM STOP TALKING I CAN'T STAND IT ANYMORE I'M ABOUT TO PUNCH HIM IF HE DOESN'T STOP RIGHT NOW!"
And I beleived he really would do it. I quickly snatched Keaton from Angry Tucker's reach and fled the room to concoct a plan to handle this monster that was now living in my house. Over the next hours and days we walked on egg shells around Tuck, trying not to rile the demon lying just below the surface. Keaton was brave, as little brothers are, and often taunted or picked at Tucker, at which time he became a tackling dummy that Tucker literally lifted off the ground and slammed into the carpet like a t.v. wrestler. It was ugly.
So I did the thing every mother does when her kids are out of control. I sent them both to my mom's for a few days.
Alas, they had to come home eventually, and there were about four days of the medicine left. Keaton taunted Tucker, Tucker body-slammed him into the ground, and on and on and on. Tucker even got so angry that his Incredible Hulk came out and, shaking uncontrollably, he shouted "I HATE KEATON HICKMAN!" This is the first time we've heard this statement and a grand admonishment followed, steroids or not.
Finally, during one of Tucker's lighter moments when he realized he may have actually hurt Keaton, I decided to reason with the monster.
"Tucker, your medicine is fighting with your brain. Your brain knows what good choices are and what bad choices are, but your medicine only likes the bad choices. It's going straight to your brain and trying to convince it to make the bad choices. You have to have a strong brain! Your brain has to beat the medicine, so you're going to have to think really hard about what you're doing until you're done taking it."
This seemed to hit home for Tuck, as he loves a brain challenge, and the next few minutes were uneventful. Small victories, right?
About fourteen minutes later the fighting and screaming started again, and we all decided to just count the days until the steroids were over and be happy that Tucker's skin was better and that he wasn't at school beating the hell out of random kids. At least he was beating up family, right?
It's been about five days since his last dose, and I can tell that the medicine is slowly leaving his system as his face deflates. I can also tell it's not completely gone because as Keaton got out of the bath tonight and walked past Tucker, Tucker turned and punched him in the face.