The Chips Mystery is Solved!

A few weeks ago, when we returned home after our trip with Andrea to Fort Worth, she was getting ready to leave for McPherson, where she lives and works now.  Before she left, Aaron asked her if she wanted the Sour Cream and Onion Pringles that he had bought while we were gone.  We were surprised at that offer because Aaron loves Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.  It would be unusual for him to give them away………or very generous.  Very, very generous in Aaron’s case.  When he returned with the chips, she asked him why he was giving them away and he admitted that he didn’t like them.  What?!  But he assured us that he didn’t like them and so he was happy to give them to Andrea.

He hasn’t really been able to describe to us why he all of a sudden doesn’t like Sour Cream and Onion Pringles………..until today.  I was outside watering our new growing grass when Aaron got home.  He came across the yard, swinging a Wal-Mart bag.  He told me about his day………the number 52 Slushie and only one box of candy from Quik Trip………..and then the Pringles from Wal-Mart.  He reached into his Wal-Mart bag and took out one of the two canisters of Pringles that were in the bag.

“See Mom?  I got some Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.”  And I said, “But Aaron, I didn’t think you liked Sour Cream and Onion Pringles anymore.”

“Mom!  I found out why I didn’t like the other Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.  It’s because they were the bursting flavor!”

Oh, I see……….bursting flavor, huh?

“Yes!  I don’t like the bursting flavor ones, but I like these.”

And these that he likes are Multi-Grain Sour Cream and Onion Pringles…………..which are obviously very different from the bursting flavor Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.

Soon after this conversation, I was in the kitchen getting supper ready when Aaron came in and held the Multi-Grain Pringles up for me to see.  “Mom, these multi-grain Sour Cream and Onion Pringles are better.  They’re better than the bursting flavor ones.”

He must have seen my confusion because he continued, “The bursting flavor means it has a higher flavor.”

Well, of course.  A higher flavor……..and that’s just not so tasty, is it?

“No, the bursting flavor is more spicy.  I’m glad they’re not like that bursting flavor!”

Absolutely!  Bursting flavor is just too much!

After supper, Gary and I were working in the yard and garden.  I was watering more grass when Aaron came outside and walked over to the garden to talk to Gary………….and of course, he wanted to tell Dad all about the multi-grain chips compared to the bursting flavor chips.  That accomplished, he walked over to me and said, “Mom, I really like those Multi-Grain Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.  They’re better than the bursting flavor.”

Yes, Aaron, I know.

“And Mom, the multi-grain ones are green and they have black dots!  The bursting flavor ones are clear!”

Well, now, there’s a clever marketing ploy!  So I tried to explain what the black dots are, but I realized that his descriptions are much more interesting than mine are and so I just hushed.  Aaron went inside for awhile, but returned one more time.  This time, he strode purposefully up to Gary in the garden…………and he was carrying a canister of the Multi-Grain Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.  He once again explained to Gary the difference in the multi-grain ones and the bursting flavor ones, and concluded by saying, “And the multi-grain Pringles have polka dots!”

Maybe I’ll have time to play a game of Skip-Bo tonight with Aaron………..and maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to eat some of those green polka-dotted multi-grain Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.  Who needs plain old bursting flavor ones anyway?  These new ones sound like way more fun!

In Aaron’s world they sure are!

Mother’s Day and Cavemen

I got the best surprise for Mother’s Day.  We had been helping at a friend’s 50th wedding anniversary party, working in the kitchen.  Well, Gary was fishing but Andrea came in from McPherson and came out to the party, where she worked and worked with us in the kitchen.  My sweet, beautiful daughter didn’t mind a bit to be washing dishes and doing whatever else needed doing for several hours.  What a blessing!  Then later, when we pulled into our driveway, there was Andrew’s truck!  That was my big surprise that everyone knew about except me.  We hadn’t seen him for several months, so it was wonderful to give him a big hug and cry on his shoulder.  To top it off, there were beautiful pink roses and funny cards…………and Andrea even made sure that Aaron signed a card.

We talked until late that night, catching up, and then they wanted me to decide about what to do the next day.  I chose to grill steaks……..well, Gary would do the grilling and then Andrea and I would do the rest.  After church, Gary and I went to Sam’s for the steaks and other groceries.  On the way home, my cell phone rang and I saw that it was our home number, which means one thing……….Aaron.  So I answered my phone – “Hi, Aaron.”

“Mom, when are you coming home?”  I told him that we were on our way.  I knew exactly what his next comment would be………..and it wouldn’t be to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day.  I actually knew that it would be a question and sure enough, he asked, “So, what are we eating?”

I told him that we were having steaks with Potato Casserole, Bean Salad, Tossed Salad, Ciabatta Bread, and Strawberry Shortcake.  He seemed fairly unimpressed, but I knew he was happy about this menu because I know Aaron.  I also knew his next comment/question and of course, he delivered:  “Mom, when are we eating?”

I answered that question and there was a very brief pause.  Would he just maybe say something about Mother’s Day?

“Mom, I was watching the Science channel.  Do you believe there was such a thing as cavemen?”

Cavemen.  That doesn’t even remotely have anything to do with Mother’s Day……at least that I’m aware of………maybe a little to do with eating steak……….

Oh, Aaron.  I really wasn’t too surprised at this random turn in the conversation, but it did make me chuckle.  And as I talked to Aaron about my belief or unbelief in cavemen, Gary was smiling, too.

“Mom, the cavemen lived in caves and wrote on the walls, and they wore fur animal skins.”

Well, Aaron, I believe that people lived in caves and did all those things, yes.

“And they killed a deer.  It was an elk, and they used the antlers for things!”

Aaron, let’s talk when I get home.

But he would not hang up because he had more to say about the cavemen.  Oh dear.  Finally, I just had to tell him that I was hanging up and would see him soon………….knowing full well what the majority of the rest of the day would entail.  Cavemen facts……..cavemen stories………cavemen ideas………….cavemen theories………..cavemen anything and everything.  

And yes, we did get our ears full of his talking about cavemen.  He talked about cavemen while Andrea and I fixed dinner, in between snatching a strawberry or asking about what food we were fixing.  He went out to the grill and talked to Gary and Andrew about cavemen.  He talked about cavemen while we ate, whenever he could get a caveman word in here and there.  He talked about cavemen while we sat on the patio and ate our Strawberry Shortcake.

The caveman chatter did come to an end, though.  That’s because as he finished cutting some coupons, he watched another program on the Science Channel.  Steven Hawking was interviewed and Aaron was intrigued by him.  Therefore, the evening was all about Steven Hawking……….his brilliance, his sad beliefs about God, his computer, the disease he has.  Steven Hawking was the last thing Aaron was talking about last night, and was what he talked about this morning.  I have seen pictures of Steven Hawking and watched a video of Steven Hawking.  Anyway, you know the routine by now.

I guess cavemen have gone the way of the dinosaur……….at least for now.  And as I said good night to Aaron  last night, I thanked him for helping to give me a happy Mother’s Day.  He just gave a little grunt.  Then I said, “After all, Aaron, you helped to make me a mother.”

He gave a laugh at my funny little joke.  I didn’t tell him, but he’s helped to make me a very interesting and random mother.  A day full of cavemen and Hawking………..I can never predict the way a day with Aaron will go.

Our Priceless Mother

As Mother’s Day fast approaches, my mind naturally wanders back to the beautiful mountains of West Virginia where my sweet mother still lives and where I was raised.  My little mother is now 85 years old and lives in a lovely assisted living center.  Her life is secure and full and happy, even as her memories fade away with each passing week.  We have so much to be thankful for…….thankful that she is mostly healthy; thankful that she is content; thankful that she has loving family who care for her, as well as loving staff and friends; thankful that she still has a sweet spirit and a caring heart.  Yet all of us children know that our mother is drastically different from what she used to be.  It’s happened rather slowly, but when we step back and compare who she is with who she was, it’s hard not to be sad.  Mom wouldn’t want us to be sad, though.  She would want us to make some funny joke and to laugh and to listen to a story that she would tell…………..and to remember the good old days.
Mom and Dad married in 1949, and in August of 1950 their first child was born.  Mary Beth was soon followed by John, Jan, Patty, and Kathryn.  She had four children in five years!  Kathryn was our little caboose, coming along three years after I was born…………a fitting name since Dad was a railroad man.  Times were not easy back then, with Dad working very long hours and on weekends, and Mom keeping babies and home going strong.  How did she make homemade formula, sterilize bottles and nipples, make formula, wash cloth diapers………….and handle all the myriad responsibilities of managing a home without all the modern conveniences that we have now?  On the day she went into labor with me, she was mowing the yard (barefoot, no less) and fixing supper and watching babies and preparing for her parents to arrive to help with the new baby.  No putting her feet up, reading a book, and waiting for the pizza to be delivered.  Not my mom!


 
Mom is, without doubt, the most amazing woman I have ever known.  As a child, I thought she was tireless and invincible and could absolutely do anything.  But now I realize that she must have had times of exhaustion and doubt and failure.  Maybe it’s good that I didn’t know that then, but I’m thankful that I recognize it now.  I just remember her strong work ethic, her superior organizational skills, her wit and humor, and many other wonderful attributes. 
Mom had a degree in Home Economics from Marshall University and was a natural with cooking, sewing, housekeeping, gardening, and so many of the other skills it took to run a home the way that she did.  I know that all of us kids remember our kitchen table full of rolls, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, and pizza crusts…….all homemade……. waiting to be frozen.  She would freeze individual bags of homemade pizza sauce so that along with the frozen crusts and other ingredients, we could have pizza at the drop of a hat.  And of course, dozens of cookies stashed away in those saved coffee tins in the freezer………..tempting us to run down to the basement and grab one whenever we wanted, blowing our warm breath into that frozen cookie so that each bite would thaw enough to be eaten.  All sorts of cookies………Chocolate Chip, Ranger, Applesauce, Oatmeal, Cinnamon, and of course – Spritz Cookies!  Perfect!    
She was always ready for people to come over because of how organized she was.  Our friends were always welcomed, whether it was on a Sunday after church or after school or for sleeping over during weekends or in the summer.  Mom never seemed to mind a house full of people.  She mothered dozens of college students over the years, inviting them to join our family for dinners and games and great conversation and laughter.  We have many special memories of Sunday dinners with visiting missionaries there or pastors and evangelists…………which meant that Mom got up early to prepare dinner.  And her very clear, firm instructions to us kids were to NOT help ourselves to seconds and to NOT start laughing at the table.  We usually did better at not getting seconds……..not laughing was altogether too hard on most days.  It didn’t take much to set us off and then our misery would start as we tried to keep Mom from seeing our shaking shoulders and red faces.  She had a look that could kill and there were many times that I remember wishing I was dead rather than face her after the company left! 
Holidays were wonderful occasions because of all she did to ensure that they were special and fun.  She cooked and cooked and cooked, it seemed.  There was that full table again, loaded with goodies.  I remember how she would let us take turns cranking the handle of the old food grinder as we would chop cranberries for her delicious Cranberry Salad at Thanksgiving.  I can still hear the pop of those cranberries and our delighted laughter.  There were big cookie sheet pans filled with hamburger on Christmas Eve, and then the wonder of square hamburgers on her homemade square buns.  We had full stockings and gifts under the tree and a special unwrapped big gift from Santa that somehow appeared while we slept………….and that sometimes we would get up and try to sneak a peek at after Mom and Dad went to bed.   
Mom loved snow so much!  Whenever the first snow occurred, Mom would play Christmas music.  It didn’t matter if it was in October…………if we woke up one morning to get ready for school and heard Christmas music, we knew without looking that it had snowed.  She and Dad continued this tradition even after we all left home.  They would call us and tell us to wait a minute, and then we’d hear the Christmas music over the phone and we knew it had snowed.  Or we would call them at our first snow………..all of us hoping that we’d beat them at making that first snow phone call every year.  The first year that she didn’t make a snow call after Dad died was when I knew that she was truly forgetting the past and the traditions of our life were slowly ending. 
Mom didn’t seem fazed by all the tromping of kids in and out of the house at any time of the year.  Whether we were dripping with melting snow, or tracking in mud, or were sweaty and dirty………she seemed to handle it all.  And the pets!  We had too many cats to count, and multiple dogs, and birds, and turtles, and even those little colored chicks at Easter.    Somehow in the midst of it all, she managed to round us up to help with the gardening.  I remember picking beans or corn or tomatoes, then helping prepare fruits and veggies for her to can and freeze.  She also taught us how to clean house and how to change sheets……..the right way!  Even now in her assisted living home, she knows the day that the staff will change her sheets, so she purposely changes her sheets the day before………..so that it’s done the right way!  She taught us how to iron.  When we saw the four baskets full of ironing for us four girls, each with one of our names on top, we knew we needed to be about the task of ironing those pillow cases or handkerchiefs or whatever else there was.  And I guarantee that each of us girls remember every step of how she taught us to wash dishes – there was a right order to it and a wrong order, of course!  Mom was particular that way about so many things………she taught us the correct way to set a table and to pass the food and be polite……..and she hoped it would stick.  We still laugh at how a few years ago, at a family dinner with lots of us together, Mom saw that someone had put the rice in one place on their plate and their meat on another.  She cleared her throat and loudly said, “Hey!  The meat goes ON the rice!”  We all snickered and rolled our eyes………behind her back, of course…………and even today here at home if I want something done just so-so, I’ll say, “The meat goes ON the rice!” 
Mom was a beautiful seamstress.  After we went to bed, she would still be downstairs making all of our clothes.  I’ll never forget our pretty matching Easter dresses, or the time she made winter wool skirts and then looked in every store in several states for just the right matching sweaters and knee socks to go with those skirts.  She sewed each of our bridal gowns as well as all the attendant’s gowns for our weddings, and several of her granddaughter’s gowns as well.   After she retired, she decided to take up quilting and ended up making each of us kids a completely hand sewn quilt.  She made quilts for others, too, some of whom didn’t have a mother of their own.  She also knitted beautiful Christmas stockings that all of us have as do dozens and dozens of people all over the world…………and even our pets!  Her knitting went with her everywhere, even to Dad’s chemo sessions, where she would knit as she sat with him.  When the nurses would comment on her beautiful stockings, she’d make many of them a stocking, too!  She never wasted a moment to be busy with her hands or to be blessing others. 
 
After we were all in school, Mom got a job as a school secretary.  Later she became the county School Food Service Director, and when she retired she was overseeing the school lunch programs in thirteen West Virginia counties.  How on earth did she do it?  While working she still managed to keep our family going and taken care of and provided for.  There are countless other stories I could tell about this great woman, but more than what Mom did it’s who she was……and is……that’s most important.
She loved the Lord totally and she imparted the importance of that love to each of us children.  She lived by Biblical principles and it impacted us greatly.  Even on her very busy mornings, after Dad was at work and we kids were eating breakfast, she would read the Our Daily Bread devotional and some scripture to us, and start our day off with prayer.  She always made sure that we were in church even when Dad was at work and couldn’t go with us.  We knew we could go to her for advice about anything.  And she was an encourager, not only to us but to so many others.  How many times did she tell me, as I wondered if I would ever get married, “Patty, remember that God gives His best to those that leave the choice with Him.”  She helped those who needed a hand in whatever way she could.  In later years, as she and Dad visited sick and shut-ins, Mom would learn of something that each person liked.  Then she would take that to them.  She would make her Boiled Custard for this one, or cut some of her little miniature roses for that one.  And when Dad was sick with cancer, she was there by his side every step of the way, taking care of him for eight years.
Mom was selfless.  She forged ahead with what needed to be done without any complaining that I ever remember hearing.  She cared for the hurting and the sad and those that were without what they needed and those who had messed up in life.  I don’t remember my mom taking naps or demanding dinners out or wanting a vacation or watching TV or movies.  She worked hard and she didn’t make a big deal about it.  Her joy came from what she could do for us and for others. 
Now as she spends her later years in assisted living, she is still going about there to help others.  She tells us that she feels God has given her a mission there………so she seeks out the ones who are ignored or irritating or lonely, and she talks to them and pats their hands or puts an arm around their shoulders.  Years ago she took care of both her mother-in-law and mother, and she still has a heart to take care of the ones that God has put around her now.  Mom taught us how to live because she lived it………….and she is still living out her faith today in the place where she knows that God has put her. 
Sometimes when I call her, I’m not sure she really knows who I am.  Usually after I mention one of the kid’s names then she’ll seem to catch on.  But I know who she is.  “A godly woman, who can find?”  I have found one……….my mother, Beth King……Mom.  I love you, Mom.  I know we all do.   

A Thank-You!

Sometimes Aaron jerks, as in possible myoclonic jerk seizures.  No, I didn’t say that Aaron IS a jerk…….at least not out loud.  OK – just kidding!  But really, he has dropped coffee or other drinks as well as food and whatever else may be in his hand when he has a jerk.  It doesn’t seem to happen often, thankfully.

He came home today from his day group and was telling me about his day, about the movie they went to see and about going to the park afterwards.  He’s calm and mellow today.  Our conversation was more adult feeling and pleasant.  I love days like this.

He told me that he got popcorn……a large, as always.  Now Paradigm staff may need to correct this, but the story Aaron told me is this:

“Mom, I was carrying my bucket of popcorn.  It was before the movie started.  We were out in the hall……..you know, outside that theater place.  And I had a jerk and I dropped my popcorn.”

He was very matter-of-fact about it as he continued:  “You know, we weren’t inside the place where we watch the movie.  We were at that pay aisle place.”

Bless his heart – it was very important to him that he set the stage and that I understood exactly where he was.  I assured him that I knew where he meant, and so he went on:  “Well, that theater lady came and she said she would sweep it up.  I told her that I would sweep it up but she said that she would do it.”

Aw, Aaron.  He was embarrassed by all this and it makes my heart go out to him.  He felt bad for the theater lady to sweep up his mess that he had made.  Hearing him express that fact just really warmed my heart, and made me also feel sad for Aaron…….sad that he has to deal with all these public issues.

And I want to say thank you to this nice theater lady for sweeping up Aaron’s mess………….and thank you to the guys who refilled Aaron’s popcorn bucket (large, of course!)…………and a huge thank you to all the Paradigm staff who work so patiently and kindly with not only Aaron, but with many other young special needs adults.  I know it can’t be easy to keep it all straight and keep yourselves from getting irritated, but we think you do a fabulous job!

Good people need to be recognized, and we’re very thankful that God has brought so many into Aaron’s life.

Mouthwash and Mattresses

For some time now, Aaron has used mouthwash every night before bed.  His dental hygienist suggested this for Aaron, telling us that it would help prevent tartar buildup.  Aaron’s dental habits could use some tweaking, let’s just say………….so could his showering habits, for that matter.  Anyway, I was skeptical that Aaron would come anywhere near a bottle of mouthwash, let alone actually put it in his mouth…………but lo and behold, he has used it faithfully for months.  Amazing!

When I got him the first bottle, I stood beside him and instructed him on the mechanics of using mouthwash.  He was full of trepidation as he took his first tiny sip of the suspicious substance.  I encouraged him onward and finally he had the entire amount in his mouth.  The look on his face was priceless!  He was adjusting himself to the minty taste of this weird colored liquid.  I really thought that this first swishing would be his last……….but it wasn’t.  He has decided that this miracle mouthwash will keep the hygienist from delivering bad news to Mom at each dental visit, so swish he will!

He has told me when his bottle of mouthwash was running low so that I could buy another one.  He has commented on the shapes of the bottles, the brand of the mouthwash, the taste of the mouthwash…………and even confided in me that one night when he had a cold, he got out of bed and swallowed some mouthwash, thinking that it would help his cold……………so we had another instructional session of the pros and cons of swallowing mouthwash……..heavy on the con side………..and I don’t believe he has ever drunk mouthwash again.

Last night we were going through our getting-ready-for-bed routine.  Aaron was in his bathroom brushing and swishing.  He had a brand new bottle of mouthwash and I was soon to hear about it.  He charged into our bedroom.   “Mom!!  That new mouthwash is blue!”

Yes, Aaron, it is.  Did you like it?

“Well, it’s called Blue Mint.”

And?…………….

“It was different!”

I know it’s different.  Did you like it?   And he told me that, yes, he liked it…………..and he thumped on down the hall to his room.

But not for long.  Into the room he burst again.  “Mom, it’s just that this new mouthwash is a weird blue color.”  

It is blue, Aaron.

“But my other mouthwash was green.”

Yes, Aaron……….green mint and blue mint.  Crazy, huh?

Off he went again, satisfied, I hoped.  I was almost done with my own brushing of teeth when he barreled in again.  “Mom!  Can you come in my room and do something?”

Aaron, what is it?  I really want to go to bed.

“There’s something wrong with my bed!  I noticed it today.”

Aaron had a couple seizures earlier in the day and so I wondered if his covers were messed up.  I went to his room and he said, “It’s this part of the bed….over here, on the lamp side.”  So I went to the lamp side of the bed and stood there looking down to see whatever it was I was supposed to see.  Aaron was quiet, waiting for me to correct the very obvious problem that wasn’t at all very obvious to me.

So, Aaron, what is it?  What’s wrong with the bed?  And he leaned down a little and pointed to the end of the mattress, at the rounded corner.  OK.  And the problem is?

“See, Mom?  It’s halfway messed up.  The mattress needs to come over this way.”

It looked totally fine to me, but I knew better than to try to dissuade him of his firm conviction that the mattress was halfway messed up, so I reached down and gently moved the mattress over………….maybe an eighth of an inch………..maybe.   Aaron was very happy to see this improvement in the position of his halfway messed up mattress.  So was I, believe me.  Simple solutions to Aaron’s halfway messed up issues don’t always happen!

We hugged good night and I started up the hall, only to have Aaron follow me.  I turned around to nip this in the bud and he said, “Mom, that mouthwash was different.”

OK, Aaron………..I know the mouthwash was different but the Blue Mint is good, right?  He agreed.  And your halfway messed up mattress is fixed, right?  He agreed.  So let’s go to bed.

Another hug and we parted ways…………me holding my breath as I fully expected him to return with one more mouthwash update.  But he stayed in his room and settled in his bed to read before closing his book, recording his going-to-sleep time in his notebook by his bed, turning off his light and getting his covers just so-so on his no longer halfway messed up mattress.

And it hit me…………he didn’t even ask if it was going to rain tonight.  Wow!  Must be the mouthwash!

Do Not Pass!

What a difference a day can make!  We have all experienced how true that statement can be.  We can wake up to dramatic differences in the weather, in how we feel, in our mood, in the news headlines – so many changes in a short time.  It’s certainly true with Aaron, as I’ve pointed out before.  How can he be so happy one day, and the next day be a terrible grouch?  He went from being so cheerful yesterday to being a real meanie today.  It’s as if he’s stuck in perpetual adolescence!  That thought is sobering, to say the least.  
It’s the same old song and I’ve totally lost count of which verse we’re on.  He didn’t want to get off the computer………..he said he was tired…………that he didn’t sleep well………….that no one cares……………that he didn’t want to go to Wal-Mart with Paradigm today……………..that Mom, in particular, doesn’t care.  So I matter-of-factly told him that I had poured his coffee, that his wallet was ready with extra money for Wal-Mart, and generally tried to encourage him with as few words as possible.  Too many words only further aggravate him.  And the more he is aggravated, the more my words may change from being kind and patient to being every bit as grouchy as Aaron is being.  It’s hard to win in this situation, though…………because while too many words aggravate him, too much silence from me only confirms to him that I don’t care, and off we go down that path again. 
It’s quite a balancing act and I never exactly know where we will land.  I can read Aaron very well, but his frustrations are sometimes erratic………..even to Aaron.  Oh, how I wish he could sit down, look me in the eye, and describe how he’s feeling and why!  Just have a good old heart-to-heart with Mom.  That’s unrealistic, though, for me to expect that from Aaron.  I have to reach into his heart without any expectation that he will do likewise with me.  Try to understand, try to resolve, try to defuse, and try not to enable bad behavior.  I don’t feel wise enough for this job some days!  Am I doing all I can?  Am I helping or hurting?  Could I have done things way in the past that would have made today not happen?  But those are defeating thoughts, surely not from God.  I can only capture this moment and ask God for wisdom……….and a slow, deliberate tongue that doesn’t speak what I am sometimes thinking.  Do I always succeed?  Absolutely not!  But the only moment that I have to try to do right is this very moment and so this moment is what I concentrate on now. 
I went to the kitchen and without saying a word, I got out the celery and peanut butter.  Aaron watched closely while pretending not to care.  Yet I could see that he was calming down, relaxing, talking softer………….all the while wondering what Mom was doing.  I washed the celery pieces and spread the peanut butter on each one, and then set it on the table for Aaron to eat.  He didn’t thank me verbally, but I know he thanked me deep inside that amazing brain of his.  I left him to his happy crunching as I finished getting ready, and later we got into the van for our drive to meet Cody, his Paradigm day group staff.  Aaron was mostly quiet, but as we waited for Cody to come, Aaron noticed my new key chain…………..a cute little sparkly shoe.  Aaron notices so many little details that most of us miss.  Does he notice how much we care?  Does he relate celery and peanut butter to my love for him?  I don’t really know.  He will probably never be able to tell me that.  But I know and God knows, and that’s what matters the most. 
On the way home, I passed a big semi-truck full of huge rolls of sod.  Two cars were behind this truck as he drove very slowly down the road.  The second car was easing out, seeing if he could pass, in a hurry to get around this impediment that was slowing down his progress.  But the car quickly changed his mind and jerked back into his lane as he saw that coming toward him was another huge truck.  He would have been in worse shape if he had passed the truck that was slowing him down.  Better to just be patient and take his time, arriving safely at his destination.  I am sometimes like that car, wanting to hurry around Aaron’s behaviors and not deal with him and how his attitudes can change my day and alter my mood…………..not for the better.  Yet I have a choice to make.  I can slow down and deal with the issues as best I know how at the moment, allowing God to give me His grace to handle the frustrations that Aaron brings.  We stand a far better chance at arriving at the place that we both really want to be, a place of love and understanding.  Or I can barrel around the trying moment, attempting to hurry through it out of sheer impatience and anger…………..but if I do that, I know I’ll have a head-on encounter with a greater trouble.  I’ll damage Aaron and I’ll be acting in sin, which will also damage me and hurt my relationship with God. 
I wish I could say that I have always done that…………..slowed down and reacted wisely.  No, I surely haven’t done either, more times than I care to say.   For every meltdown that Aaron has, I have the temptation to be angry…………..and I sometimes am just that.  But the impact of that anger is more hurtful than just staying behind the situation and driving slowly and choosing my words wisely.  The moment will pass…………..it always does……………and Aaron moves quickly on to the next conversation and the next interest and the next meal………whatever………..and I ride along with him, praying to arrive safely at the end of the day – with one of his side way hugs and a quick good-night and one last conversation about whether it will rain tonight. 
After all, there are some things that NEVER change!

Watching Grass Grow

We have some shady areas in our front yard where we have a very hard time getting grass to grow.  Over the weekend, Gary spread some grass seed mix there.  Of course, this did not escape the attention of our ever observant Aaron.  This morning Aaron slipped out the front door to see if the mulch was wet, and to see what the temperature was on this cloudy, windy day.

Soon I heard the familiar thump, thump, thump as he hurried up the stairs.  Into my room he strode as he said, “Mom!  I opened the front door to see if the grass has grown!  It’s still white dots.”

I guess it does look like white dots, Aaron.  It takes awhile for it go grow.

“Well, when will it grow?”  And I told him again that it would take some time for us to see the grass grow from little white dots.  The seed has to be watered, and so forth.

And he asked, “What will it look like?  Will it be huge grass?”  So I asked him what he meant by “huge grass” as I envisioned living on a grassy African plain.

And he answered, “Will it be huge grass or normal grass?”

I assured him that we would have normal grass………still wondering exactly what huge grass is, but Aaron had moved on.

He went back outside one more time to check the temperature.  I guess the first time he was distracted by the white dots in the dirt that haven’t grown into huge grass yet, or even normal grass.

Back upstairs he thumped.  “Mom!  I looked up close at the grass seed.  It looks like oatmeal!  Is that oatmeal seeds?”

No, Aaron, I am sure that your dad did not plant oatmeal seeds.  Interesting concept………..except imagine the mess of oatmeal when it rained.

Later, when I came home after dropping Aaron off and running some errands, there I was peering down at the white dots on the ground.  You know, that mixture really does resemble oatmeal!  I smile and just shake my head once more at Aaron’s fascinating descriptions.

Nope, life is not dull with Aaron around.  He causes us to pause and take a second look at so many things…….things that normally we would just hurry by and not notice.  And I have a feeling that we’ll be having more grass seed/white dot/oatmeal-in-the-front-yard discussions as we wait and watch the grass grow.