The Perfect "ism" For Me

Aaron loves Handy Answer Books.  He will read a few pages of one of his Handy Answer Books every night before bed.  Only before bed, mind you.  Aaron will not read at any other time because……….well, because in Aaron’s world there is only one time for reading and that time is right before bed, after his teeth are brushed and all his pillows are placed just right and his back scratcher is positioned beside him in the perfect position and his lamp beside his nightstand is on and the nightstand is pulled right over to where it touches his bed and he and I have said goodnight and hugged and he makes sure that I am going to turn the hall light off and he has asked whether or not it’s going to rain.  I think that’s it.

There are many different Handy Answer Books on topics such as weather, dinosaurs, math, geology, etc.  Right now Aaron is reading the Handy Answer Religion Book.  Some day I will write a blog about Aaron and religion.  He has some interesting insights into this sensitive subject.  Anyway, this Handy Answer Religion Book has been eye-opening to him as he has read about some religions that he had never heard of before.  For instance, Daoism was fascinating to him.  We heard many facts about this unusual religion.

Last night Aaron had a meltdown over not being able to play Spiderman on his computer.  Gary put on another game, Shark Tales, that Aaron could play but Aaron’s Spiderman behavior keeps us from allowing that game.  Therefore, Gary and I were mean and didn’t care and were some other things that Aaron chose to call us…………..and he slammed and banged and generally upset us all – even the dog.  Aaron is like a balloon letting out air at times like this and we usually have to be sure that he lands safely.  And he did finally land…………in the big easy chair in the family room, with a bag of tortilla chips and the TV tuned in to the Olympics.

As we sat there, Aaron completely calmed down and acted as if nothing had even happened.  He was happy and talkative and at ease.  It’s always somewhat amazing to see the change in him – how quickly it happens and how he’s able to pick up like nothing was ever amiss.  Gary and I are still licking our wounds, but not Aaron.

Aaron began talking to me about the new religion that he’s reading about in his Handy Answer Religion Book.    He was struggling to say this religion correctly.  “Mom, I’m reading about a new religion since I finished Daoism.  This new religion is Con…..”  Then he stopped and soon picked it up again.  “It’s called Con…..fus…..”   And finally, “It’s called Confusionism!”

Confusionism, huh?  

“Yes!”  he answered.  “It’s a religion I’ve never heard of called Confusionism!”

After the very confusing up and down day that I had just experienced………………and the confusing up and down meltdown that Aaron experienced………….the religion of Confusionism sounded perfect to me!

On most days, actually, I think I could write the whole chapter on Confusionism in Aaron’s Handy Answer Religion Book!!

Some Reasons I Smile

Living with Aaron can certainly have some challenges.  Gary and I fight frustrations nearly every day as we live with our adult son…………..our son who has his own challenges that can at one time break our hearts and in the next few minutes be causing us to want to pull our hair out.  We bite our tongues, or at other times wish we could undo what we just said.  The years have helped to temper these episodes, but we still struggle.
Then there are the times that Aaron is so funny that we laugh.  Or our struggle may be to NOT laugh because of encouraging a negative behavior or an inappropriate comment…………..or because Aaron may not appreciate our laughter and so he will become angry.  We’ve chewed our tongues more than once during those moments………….or shared knowing glances behind his back……………or waited for him to leave the room before we collapse in laughter.  What Aaron doesn’t know won’t hurt him – and it sure helps us to feel better!

Aaron has made some really funny comments over the past few days, so I decided to share some of them with you.  Maybe they will lighten your day and help you to smile…………or laugh………….and you don’t have to worry about how it will affect Aaron. 

Aaron saw a small candle on the kitchen counter and asked, “Mom, can I have that light up candle in my room?”  He knew the answer would be no, but he always thinks it’s worth a try to ask just one more time.  Anything that “lights up” is not allowed in Aaron’s room.

One of the staff at his day group, Barb, gave us a jar of grape jam that she made.  I wanted Aaron to try it, so he agreed – a little reluctantly, because he just wasn’t sure that he would like it.  And my instructions from Aaron were not to toast the bread – “Don’t make the bread crunchy, Mom.  I want it soft.”  So I spread some of the jam on the untoasted slices of multi-grain bread that I was using…………..the bread that has oats on the crust…………and watched him struggle to eat it.  I finally asked, “Aaron, don’t you like the jam?”  He answered, “I like the jam, but this bread has white crunchy things on it that are squares.”  Leave it to Aaron to notice every tiny detail of his bread and to make faces like he was eating little cement squares instead of oats!

Yesterday after Aaron ate his lunch, the place mat under his plate was full of crumbs.  Aaron has watched me shake the place mats over the sink to get rid of the many crumbs he leaves after he eats.  He stared at the crumbs on his place mat and then asked, “Mom, how are you going to get rid of those crumbs on this place mat?  Wiggle it?”  Well, I guess you could put it that way, strange as it seems.

We passed the water tower not far from our house as we drove around last night.  Aaron thinks water towers are very interesting and always asks questions about them, so last night he made a comment about the tower.  I affirmed that it was a water tower and he said, “It’s a water tower?  I thought it was a sewer tower!”  Ewwww!  Of course, this was followed by a long conversation about sewers, until I finally told him – as I so often do – to google it!

This morning he had yet another observation about his sore elbow and how it was folded under his chest in his sleep and was this why it was sore and would I say that this is why it was sore, etc., etc.  And finally he came to this conclusion:  “I’m guessing the muscle has been squished.  It’s not squished into the normal position.”    Ouch!

And finally, on our way to meet his group, he was very happy to have Jackson riding with us.  Which brought up talk of other dogs, which led to talk of Cody’s dog in particular:  “Mom, Cody has a Husky dog.  He has one of those dogs that’s in the mushing race!” 

If you don’t know what a mushing race is…………… it!

All Kinds of Olympics!

Last year Aaron became interested in football for the first time in his life.  Many of you may remember reading some of my football blogs last fall and winter.  Seeing football through Aaron’s eyes was – well – interesting.  I was never more aware of the length of a football game than I was when watching it with Aaron, who talks and talks for a majority of the game.  Football games are long………..very, very long.  But it was very, very educational to listen to Aaron talk about the four rounds that comprise a football game;  the refs in their jailhouse suits;  whether the liquid that the players had squirted in their mouths was indeed mouthwash;  which team we were voting for……………among a few of the many insights that Aaron shared of his understanding of football.

And when the football season started, Aaron said the same thing that he said the other night when he saw that the Olympics was nearly ready to begin.  Aaron saw the Olympics commercial on TV and became very excited. “The Olympics is coming out?!”  Whereupon he clomped down to Gary’s study and exclaimed, “Dad!  The Olympics is finally out!”  Aaron makes it sound like the Olympics is the next blockbuster movie that he wants to see.  In fact, one night after Aaron again told us that the Olympics was coming out, Gary asked him if they were coming out in 3D……………and that comment was totally lost on Aaron as he walked away, happy in the knowledge that the Olympics was coming out.

He doesn’t quite understand what the Olympics really is and what they actually do in an Olympics.  He asked one night, “What do they do on the Olympics?  Different kinds of sports?”  We’ve been trying to explain what the Olympics are for and what they do, including what sports are competed in during these summer Olympics.  It’s all very new to Aaron, so we’ve been smiling a lot at his comments.  The opening ceremony was of no interest to him, but he’s watched some of the competitions and of course, has a lot to say about what he observes.

He was intrigued last night as he watched some of the gymnastics.  During the floor routine on the mat, Aaron asked why the gymnast was bouncing…………and while watching the pummel horse routine, he wondered why they were spinning.  “Is he dizzy?”  Aaron asked.   He thought the different swim strokes were amazing.  “What?!  They just keep on going?  When are they gonna stop?!”  Finally that meet was over and Aaron asked, “Did the U.S. become first?”

Today he watched a little while he ate his lunch.  More gymnastics came on and he wondered out loud, “What kind of Olympics is this?  Is this the pole kind?”  Gary knew that Aaron meant parallel bars while I was still scratching my head on that one.  When he saw the rowing teams, he was so surprised.  “HUH??  In the Olympics they do boating?”

Yes, Aaron, in the Olympics they do rowing.  He was still trying to absorb this news.  “I never knew they did boat!!”

Finally he asked, “So there’s all kinds of Olympics?”

There are all kinds of Olympics, Aaron.  And I’m sure we’ll be hearing all kinds of insights!

That Pillsbury Dough Boy!

The other day I cleaned out the refrigerator, a job that really needed doing.  In one of the drawers, which you can see through, I rearranged everything……and there in full view were two containers of crescent roll dough.  I had bought them for something I ended up not making, so there they still lay, unused.  That is, until Aaron saw them, due to my cleaning…………and my forgetting to hide them.  Once Aaron saw them, he laid claim upon them with a vengeance. 

He pulled one of the crescent roll containers out of the frig on Sunday while I was in the kitchen, and walked over to me.  “Mom!  Can you fix these CROY-sont rolls tomorrow for breakfast?”  Notice that I tried to spell the word “croissant” the way that Aaron pronounces it.  I didn’t tell him that they are actually crescent rolls.  What does it matter?  He’ll insist that they are CROY-sont rolls regardless.  I told him that if he got up in time, then yes, we could probably have the rolls for breakfast.  And needless to say, I was reminded several times of this hopeful upcoming breakfast.  “Mom, can you fix both CROY-sont rolls?”  And I told him that we did NOT need 16 CROY-sont rolls.  One container would be more than plenty.  Aaron smiled and decided to leave well enough alone.  One it was!

I was in the shower on Monday morning when I heard Aaron thumping up the hall.  He never walks softly, so even in the shower I could hear his distinctive clomping.  Then the expected knock on my bedroom door.  Of course, I didn’t answer……… he knocked again………….and paused……….and then I heard him thumping down the stairs.  It wasn’t long until he was back at the door, my shower still running, and this time he not only knocked but said, “Mom?”   Silence.  More thumping back up the hall to his room.  Before long, the whole scene was repeated………Aaron ever hopeful, I guess, that even though he could still hear the shower running, I would somehow appear at the door to answer the question I knew he was going to ask.  Not on your life, buddy!  So he waited…………..and knocked……………and waited some more. 

When he heard the water turn off, he was back at the door in a flash.  “Mom?!  Can I have some of those Pillsbury?”  I told him yes, and he continued, “Can you hurry?  I’m hungry.”  I told him that he would obviously have to wait………….something that Aaron doesn’t do very well.  I heard him go downstairs, and soon he was back at the door. 

“Mom, I laid that Pillsbury Dough Boy on the table.”  I almost told Aaron that there was really no dough boy this time, that these were Great Value…………but who cares?  It was Pillsbury Dough Boy to Aaron and so I left it there.  Or Aaron left it there………on the table……….waiting for his very slow mother.  Eventually the CROY-sont rolls were baked  – with me eating two and Aaron eating six.  Yes – six!  And enjoying every delicious bite!

When he got home from his day group, he said, “Mom, we had pizza at Paradigm for someone’s birthday.  It was Pizza Hut!”  I asked him if he ate any after eating six CROY-sont rolls.  He answered, “Yes, but I decided I needed to lose weight so I only had three pieces.”  Good grief, Aaron!  I’m so glad you’re concerned about your weight!  Imagine if you didn’t care!

The call of the one remaining container of CROY-sont rolls was strong, and so the evening was still young when Aaron asked, “Mom, tomorrow do you want to have that Pillsbury Dough Boy?  There’s only a last one in there.”  I knew that this last one in there would be Aaron’s constant focus until it was gone, so why not?  Yes, Aaron, we’ll have the last one in there, tomorrow.

Aaron was up early, anxious to see if Mom remembered the Pillsbury Dough Boy promise.  He took that last container out and brought it to me.  “Mom, here’s the Pillsbury Dough Boy.  Can you fix the CROY-sonts now?”  So I popped them in the oven, and we sat down together to another Pillsbury Dough Boy CROY-sont breakfast…………..with me being glad that we polished off the last one in there.  Neither of us need to eat like this every morning. 

Taking time to sit with Aaron, to pray together, and to talk…………..mostly me listening to Aaron talk………….can be very enlightening.  I know it means a lot to Aaron for me to sit there with him while he talks about the comics in the paper that he likes and how good the CROY-sont rolls are and why he doesn’t want butter on them (you don’t want to know) and all the myriad random topics that cross his mind. 

And if I hadn’t taken that time with Aaron this morning, I might have missed this gem as he talked about looking at sugar, salt, and pepper in his microscope years ago.  “Mom, did you know that salt is a square and pepper is a leaf, but sugar is a no-shape?”

Wow, Aaron!  How amazing!  He truly does delight me with his descriptions and his ability to recall so many details. He also leaves me smiling and scratching my head as I look at his plate.  I will never completely understand why Aaron needs a knife, fork, and spoon in order to eat his CROY-sont rolls, but he does……………as well as everything else under the sun that he eats. 

That’s part of the mystery of Aaron that not even a microscope can reveal.

The Chair!

Well, today was the big day – the day that Aaron had waited for and talked about and anticipated for so long.  Did I mention that he talked about it?  A lot.  He hoped that today would be THE day that his new (to him) desk chair would be delivered by Dad to our home and carried up to his room.  And as I mentioned in the previous blog, we knew that Aaron would talk about it a lot this weekend.  We were right.

Aaron wasn’t overbearing with his talk about the chair, but he did ask about it several times on both Saturday and Sunday.  Is Dad getting the chair on Monday?  So Dad IS getting the chair, right?  Will I have the chair on Monday?  Is Dad REALLY getting a chair?  And my favorite, said by Aaron yesterday, was  “Is that chair coming to our house tomorrow?” 

I sure was hoping that Gary was able to get at least one of the chairs that he bid on in the auction.  If not, I knew a trip to the store for a new chair was a real possibility.  This morning, Aaron did ask about it several times again – but he was far more interested in his croissant rolls that I was going to bake for him.  That may be another story. 

When Aaron burst through the door this afternoon, home from his day group, he said, “Mom!  When is Dad coming home?”  Of course, what he really meant was……….When is the chair coming home?!  I reminded Aaron that IF Dad was able to get a chair, then they would get home when they got home………..I wasn’t sure of the exact time.  Aaron busied himself with his Kung Fu Panda computer game and totally lost track of time.  Gary pulled in later and sure enough, there were the chairs in the back of his truck.  YAY!!!  We were saved!!

Gary and I were in the side yard when Aaron came downstairs and into the garage………..and saw the chairs.  He was all smiles and happiness as he came out in the yard to tell us that he saw the chair.  “Dad, you got a chair!”  Yes, Aaron, Dad got a chair and now you can relax.  Of course, as Gary said to me later, it won’t be long before there will be something else that Aaron wants or needs that will consume his thoughts and his talk.  For now, though, we’ll enjoy Aaron’s happiness and hope that he’ll take good care of this chair. 

We do believe in miracles.  And we love seeing Aaron happy.

I’m Gonna Be Mean

For some time now, Aaron’s desk chair hasn’t worked correctly.  To be specific, the pneumatic feature no longer operates.  That’s because Aaron doesn’t usually just sit down softly in a chair.  He drops.  And when someone of his size drops into a chair, even the best pneumatic feature will eventually cease to be a feature and will become an operation of the past.  Now Aaron’s desk chair sits rather low, permanently stuck where Aaron’s dropping into it left it………tired and refusing to cooperate with Aaron ever again.

Aaron immediately wanted a new chair, but we decided to teach him a lesson and allow him to sit lowly in his chair for awhile.  It’s actually been a long time that  he’s endured this rather low position.  In the meantime, Gary found out that there would be an auction at FlightSafety, where he works………….an auction of office furniture and so forth.  Gary told Aaron that on the day of the auction, he would bid on an office chair for Aaron.  It would be a nice office chair, but Aaron was going to have to wait for it.

Aaron rarely waits in silence.  Therefore, almost daily he has asked his dad about the auction.  Was the auction today?  It wasn’t?  Then when will the auction be held?  Are you still going to get me a chair?  Why wasn’t the auction held yet?  Will you tell me when the auction happens?  When will it happen?  Was it today?    You get the idea.   Many, many questions.  Many, many comments.   For many, many days.

One day Aaron asked me, “Mom, when is Dad going to be betting on the chair?”

Aaron, Dad won’t be betting on the chair.  It’s called bidding………….it’s an auction…………where you bid…………not where you bet.

“So when will Dad bet on the chair?”

Never mind.  And are you telling everyone that your Dad is betting on a chair?  Do I need to clarify some issues with your staff and friends at Paradigm?

Yesterday Gary came home from work and gave Aaron the good news.  The auction was held and Gary did indeed bid on the coveted chair.  He will hopefully bring the chair home on Monday.  Of course, Aaron is very happy to hear that on Monday he will have a new (new to him) chair.  Poor chair.  But we have instructed and instructed Aaron about how to sit in the chair.  How to sit and not drop.  We’ll see how this goes.  And it is not a pneumatic chair, but one that spins in order to be lowered…………or highered, as Aaron says.  I may someday have a spinning story to tell, knowing our Aaron.  I’m sure that the instruction time will be very fascinating.  

This morning Gary and I were working out in the front yard, and Aaron was sitting in the mulch doing his relaxing in the mulch thing.  Sometimes we sound so odd……… the Adams family.  Anyway, Aaron has continued to talk about the chair in order to confirm that Gary did bid on the chair and that the chair would be his.  We expect this constant conversation until Aaron is actually in possession of the chair, but still it gets a little old.  Chair talk………..over and over again.   While busy in the mulch, Aaron said, “So Dad, will you bring the chair home?”  And Gary said, in a teasing way, “No, Aaron.  I think I’ll just leave it at work.”

Aaron doesn’t appreciate sarcasm like you and I might.  Aaron lowered his voice and said for only me to hear, “If he keeps talking like that to me, then I’m gonna be mean.”  It was just too funny.  We’ve praised Aaron for how pleasant and nice he’s been this week, for the most part, so this threat to be mean was the best way he could think of at the moment to get back at Dad for his sarcasm.   Gary heard the conversation and we burst out laughing while we watched for Aaron’s reaction………….and there was none, of course.  Aaron had made his point and we were, in his mind, to be forewarned if we did not straighten up our attitudes.  Never mind his.

Aaron has since asked Gary again about the chair.  I should keep count of the number of times we have this chair conversation this weekend.  It makes me want to grab a trash can and go sit in the mulch!  I think Gary  might join me.

Crown Day!

Aaron has been counting down the days – literally – until he was to get his permanent crown put on.  Out of the blue he would say, “Seven days, Mom.”  Then the next day it would be, “Six days, Mom.”  Well, today was the day.  He had been a little worried about whether or not it would hurt – would he need another shot – would he be numb and unable to eat for awhile (his biggest concern, by far) – and of course, would we eat lunch out somewhere?  He was relieved to hear that it would not hurt – that he would not need a shot – that he would not be numb and so he could eat – and that yes, we would eat lunch out somewhere.  Life is good.

I was doing some yard work this morning and Aaron was on the computer.  After I got out of the shower, I checked his room and found it empty.  There he was, out in the mulch, doing his relaxing “mulch thing.”  He doesn’t mind all the box elder bugs around him.  He was in his own world, relaxing and gearing up for lunch and then the dreaded crown.

Before long, we were pulling into the parking lot at Chili’s.  For some reason, he wanted to remind me at that moment of the time he threw up all over his carpet several months ago…………and how he was sure it was because of eating a Subway sub………….and that he doesn’t want to eat at Subway ever again.  And I reminded him that it probably wasn’t the sandwich at all, but maybe all the extra cheese he requested……….just like the extra butter on his theater popcorn.  He replied, “So Mom, are you saying that my body is not made for extra cheese?”  Little did we know how interesting his lunch soup was soon to be.

Aaron wanted the spiked lemonade that the server mentioned, but instead settled for strawberry lemonade.  His face puckered at the first sip, and he leaned over to examine the contents of his glass.  “Mom, what are those spots?”  I assured him that they were just strawberry seeds and he was relieved.

We both ordered the Chicken Quesadillas from the lunch menu, along with soup.  Aaron was excited to see that they had Loaded Baked Potato Soup.  His experience with that soup on Saturday night was positive, so he was looking forward to another bowl of this tasty soup.  The server and I had a time, though, explaining the Quesadillas to him.  It was pretty comical and she was a good sport, but I finally just told him that he would like them and let’s just order.  Goodness!  Did he want us to draw a picture?!  You do not need every little detail of these Quesadillas explained, Aaron!  Are they flat?  Are they soft?  Are they hot?  Are they cheesy?  Have you made them, Mom?  AAAHHHH!!!!

His soup came and he cautiously dipped his spoon in, unsure of this new dish piled with green onions and bacon.  It didn’t look like Saturday night’s soup.  It turned out to be very cheesy………..VERY cheesy.  Weren’t we just talking about too much cheese?  It was quite interesting to see him eating this VERY cheesy soup.  Aaron was very appropriate to finally call it “Stringy Soup”……………..for it certainly was stringy!  It was actually hilarious to watch him try to grab the strings of cheese hanging off of his spoon, then see the cheese wrap around his fingers or land on the table.  He wasn’t frustrated, but did do a lot of grunting and sighing.  Four napkins and two glasses of lemonade later, he had finally conquered the soup and was able to move on to the Quesadillas and fries.

See the napkin he removed from under his bowl?  Napkins do NOT go under bowls!

He separated his fries from the Quesadillas, eating the fries first – each one dipped methodically in his ketchup.  The ketchup reminded him of blood and we had a nice little conversation about red blood and white blood.  You just never know where things will go with Aaron, because blood led to…………of all things………..lab tests and urine samples and “Mom, what does a hospital do with all that pee?”  He wasn’t being gross or silly, so I tried to engage in this conversation in a very scientific way……..without laughing.  I was glad when he moved on the Quesadillas, leaving the ketchup behind, where all he wanted to know was, “What is the middle part of that white thing?  It tasted weird.”    Huh?

Of course, he wanted to use the bathroom before leaving…………and to wash his hands with an unknown number of paper towels for drying………….and as he walked to the bathroom, through the tables full of people, I wondered what people thought of his unusual way of walking and his total oblivion to being so unique.  I’m thankful he doesn’t care about all that, and I sometimes wish it didn’t stab at my heart so much.  I also wish I wasn’t embarrassed at how loudly he clapped when we finally stood up to leave.  Not one clap, but two…………VERY loud claps, as only Aaron can clap.  He was so unaffected and I was so aware of people’s stares.  Outside, I asked him why he was clapping and he just said it was because we were leaving.  It seems to be a release for him………..and I think it’s so amazing that he doesn’t see it as loud or strange.

On the way to the dentist he told me about how when he and Dad had gone to DQ, they had passed a “company building that had a tanning cleaning place.”  Sure glad I can read between the lines with Aaron!  And I wish I could tan while I clean!  His crown insertion was very quick and painless; buying some DVDs at CD Tradepost was fun; and listening to the Beach Boys on this hot day was the thing to do.  Of course, Aaron had to remove the insert from the DVD box and stare at their picture, finally asking, “Which one has the weird voice?”  Oh Aaron – always listening but so unaware of how you appear or sound to others.

Our last stop was to run in and get his hair cut……..while he talked to the hairdresser about how he hopes we can take a vacation in October and where we might go and who called our house that morning and “MOM?  Who called while you were in the shower?”  For crying out loud, Aaron!  EVERYBODY in Great Clips can hear you!!!!!  But if I don’t answer he will repeat it, shower part and all.  And of course, before he left he had to tell them all about his new crown and how that dentist “shoved it in my mouth!”  Wonder why no one asked for a referral?  If Dr. Baxter only knew!

A day with Aaron………….never quiet, never dull, never routine…………sometimes never ending, it seems.

And I have to smile.

I’ve Had Enough

We decided to go out to eat on Saturday while Andrea was down from McPherson for the night.  This is really no big deal…………..except that we took Aaron with us, which turns everything routine into a big deal.  We decided to go to Longhorn Steakhouse.  It’s still fairly new and none of us had been there before.  Aaron was happy with this choice – a new restaurant to experiment on!  He loves trying new restaurants, especially when they somehow interest him.  Longhorn is a fascinating name, so Aaron was intrigued.  He’s also been intrigued over the years with Hooters, having seen signs on the highway and then heard our adamant “NO!” when he’s asked if we could take him to Hooters…………….or Hoots, as he sometimes calls it.  Longhorn is a safe choice and so off we went.

Anytime we go somewhere with Aaron and park the van, we tell him right away to wait on us.  This is because Aaron will barge ahead of us and walk in doors first………….and by the time we catch up, there’s no telling what all he will have said or done.  Of course, he was immediately off at a fast clip – well, fast for Aaron – and we were, as usual, telling him to slow down and wait for us, etc., etc.  We did all manage to walk in together, but as if pulled by a magnet Aaron zipped in a split second to the little cup that held the toothpicks – barging past the welcome station to the cashier desk to claim his toothpicks.  So of course the first words out of our mouth upon entering Longhorn, was Gary saying, “Aaron!” and Andrea saying, “Aaron!” and me saying, “Aaron!”  A trio of Aaron’s it was.  Quite lovely and a great way, I must say, to start our evening.  Aaron grabbed a handful of toothpicks……….because EVERY time he eats he must have several toothpicks………….until Gary told him he must get only one toothpick.  They were covered in plastic, so he put all back but the one that he was allowed to keep…………and which he didn’t even end up using.  Aaron doesn’t care if he actually uses the toothpick – he just MUST have toothpicks with every meal.

We were led to our booth, and Aaron slid in right beside me, saying, “Mom, I want to sit beside you because I love you!”  Wow!  That was unexpected and very sweet, made even more so when he laid his head on my shoulder.  I reminded him, though, that we were here to eat and that he needed to sit up.  His exuberance over eating was making him very affectionate with me but now was not the time for that.  Our server came and thankfully, she was one who clicked with Aaron and liked him.  We all relaxed, and began to order our drinks.  Of course Aaron said, “Can I have beer?”  He thinks this is always a very funny thing to say and tonight was no exception. We said no to that idea just like the Hooters idea, and Aaron laughed.  Of course, this is all being said in Aaron’s usual loud way.

When we eat out and Aaron orders food, he usually asks the server for his selections – such as, “Can I have a Super Duper Double Bacon Cheeseburger?”  Or, “Can I have onion rings?”   I tell him all the time that he doesn’t have to ask the server what he can have, but to just order.  I assumed that on this night he would want his usual water, but when I asked him he said no………..and then proceeded to hunch over the drink selections on the menu, while the patient server and the not-as-patient parents waited……….and waited………..and waited.   I fully expected to hear the Jeopardy song begin playing, waiting for Aaron to order his drink in the form of a question…………da da da da da da da, da da da da da……………………and then he said, “Can I just have water?”   All that time and you still just want water?  Sigh.

Aaron decided that he was tired of hamburgers – huge shock! – and that he wanted, of all things, soup.  Soup?  Are you sure, Aaron?  Yes, he wanted soup……….and a salad.  He ended up ordering Loaded Baked Potato Soup……….which he liked…………and a steak salad, which he liked but not all that much because it didn’t have Ranch dressing on it, he told me later.  When the soup came, Aaron examined it closely, wanting to know what was in it.  He pointed down at the bowl and asked, “What are those dark spots?”  Dark spots?  Where?  We finally determined that he was pointing to the bacon and upon hearing this piece of good news, he dug in and ate happily.

He loved the bread and butter, and was very happy indeed when the server refilled the basket.  He brushed crumbs off the table over and over again, despite our telling him over and over again that this was unnecessary.  It’s obviously necessary to Aaron.  He dug into his salad then, and slurped on his water, and leaned on my arm no matter how far away I tried to scoot – making it hard for me to eat – so I reminded him to move over and he would for a minute until soon I found him leaning on me again………..intent on his eating and unaware of his leaning.  But he was aware that the people across from us were drinking something fascinating to him and before we could stop him, he pointed to them and said, “Look!  Those people are drinking wine!”  Whereupon you could hear that trio again, all of saying “Aaron!”  and hoping that those people drinking the wine or whatever didn’t notice Aaron or our trio.

He decided that he had to go to the bathroom and since he had already registered where it was, off he plodded…………with us wondering what would happen between here and there………..and IN there.  When he returned, the server brought some take-home boxes as Aaron finished up his salad.  She then began removing plates, and Aaron scooted his plate toward her and said, “Here. I’ve had enough of this.”

Well, Aaron, that didn’t sound quite nice.  But the server laughed and we laughed and Aaron didn’t think anything at all was funny.  He just doesn’t get us sometimes, you know?

By then it was time to follow Aaron out the door and go home, while he rather loudly said, “I was just very curious about what those dark spots were in that soup!”

Yep, we about had enough of this.

The Well-Traveled Backscratcher

Aaron loves his old wooden backscratcher.  It’s been through a lot, believe me, and shows it by missing one of its prongs and having marks on its handle.  Aaron keeps it by his side while he’s playing games on the computer, while we play Skip-Bo, while he watches TV, and while he reads in his bed at night.  But today the backscratcher…………….or Aaron………….went too far.

When Aaron came home from his group, I told him that his glasses that had been ordered had finally arrived and that we could go pick them up.  He was very happy about this, so he got ready while I ran a comb through my hair and off we went.  We arrived at the optometry office and went straight to the waiting room where we would pick up the glasses.  I was signing in, with Aaron standing right beside me, when suddenly with a “whoosh” he pulled his long backscratcher out of his shorts and proceeded to scratch his back.  He had pulled it out so quickly, like Zorro pulling out his sword, that I was shocked for a second.

Then I recovered my senses and said, “For crying out loud, Aaron!  What are you doing with your backscratcher?  And where did it come from?!”

He just stood there, happily scratching his back for all to see, and then said, “I brought it from home.”

Well, I obviously knew that!  And I realized, as I hurriedly finished signing in, that Aaron had put the backscratcher down his shorts, under his shirt, and partly up his back………….I guess.  He has an amazing ability to sneak out of the house with all sorts of things.  In his pockets I have found toys, rolls, silverware, money, candy, okra, cucumbers, crayons, markers…………to name a few items.  But a backscratcher?  I didn’t notice a backscratcher?  How did he sit down in the van?  I have no idea.

I ushered him to a chair, all the while with him scratching.  Scratch, scratch, scratch.  “Aaron, you should not have brought the backscratcher with you.”

And he replied, “So what am I supposed to do when my back itches?”  Scratch, scratch, scratch.

Aaron, you do what you always do………..scratch, scratch, scratch………..whatever that is…………scratch, scratch, scratch.

Not wanting to create a scene………as if we weren’t already creating a scene………..well, HE was creating the scene………….I smiled while trying to firmly tell him that the backscratcher had to go.

Just then they called our name and Aaron hopped up quickly, walking with ownership to the table where we were told to sit…………..scratch, scratch, scratch.  A couple of the employees were smiling, and one proceeded to tell me how she always keeps a backscratcher in her car.  Scratch, scratch, scratch.  I guess this should have made me feel better.  Scratch, scratch, scratch.

Aaron is rather large and more-than-rather loud, so this extra scratching activity did nothing to keep us from being noticed.  When Aaron and I go out, I always wonder what he’ll say or what he’ll do that will attract attention.  Today was right up there with his loud clapping or his funny manner of barreling through people or how he waves at security cameras or holds his hands up to stop traffic as we walk into Wal-Mart or the time he pulled a box of Cheerios out of the huge Cheerio display and I heard the other boxes hitting the floor……………ah, sweet memories.  Now I have another one to add to the list.  

Scratch, scratch, scratch.

I was very relieved when the lady retrieved his glasses quickly and very relieved that they fit without adjustment and very relieved that we were done in record time and very relieved to head for the door.

Scratch, scratch, scratch.

Of course, there were a couple cute young girls behind us as we exited.  Scratch, scratch, scratch.  By then I just laughed and Aaron went to the van, wearing his new glasses and scratching happily.

On the way home he saw some election signs on the side of the road.  “Mom, I keep seeing these signs that say something about judge or sheriff or president.  What is going on with that?!”

Oh Aaron – that is exactly what I’ve been asking about you and that backscratcher!

Scratch, scratch, scratch.

Lessons From the Pruning

It was a beautiful spring day, not too hot or too cold – just a perfect day for some outside work.  I had been looking at our grouping of Rose of Sharon bushes that grow on one side of our yard.  I knew it was time for their spring pruning and so I decided that today was the perfect day for that.  I need a fair amount of time for that chore because I prune each branch by hand, one by one, as well as cleaning out underneath the bushes where weeds and volunteer plants grow at will.  I took my garden utensils outside and began the clipping, standing back every now and then to be sure that I was keeping the height even or to see if I had missed a branch. 

When Gary got home from work, he came outside to join me.  There was one end of the bushes that needed some thicker branches cut out.  Gary took a saw and cut that unwanted growth away.  A little sawing here, more cutting there, and before long we were satisfied that this bush was complete and that our job was done.  When I do this pruning, I always wonder if I’m cutting too much or too deeply or at the right time of the season.  Every year, though, the growth returns in abundance and we are rewarded with beautiful blooms in shades of soft purple and gentle white.
As the weeks passed, I watched closely for the tiny little green leaves to appear that would signal to me that the pruning had been beneficial.  Sure enough, as the days warmed even more, the sun shone brighter, and the spring rains fell, I began to see the new leaves emerge.  Yet there was one area that was lagging behind.  The bush on the end where Gary and I had cut out the extra growth, where Gary had done the deeper pruning, was still barren.  As the other bushes started filling out, full of bright green leaves, this end was still empty and brown.  It looked uglier as the days passed.  The contrast was sharp as it stood starkly void of leaves – made even more barren and unsightly with the pretty green backdrop of the growing bushes around it. 

I was sure that we had over-pruned this part of the Rose of Sharon.  I wondered how the bushes would look after we cut this empty section away, which I was certain we would need to do.  Almost daily I would examine the dull, brown branches and walk away, more convinced than ever that they would never grow at all, much less bloom with pretty flowers.  But one day as I passed the bushes and stopped once again to observe them, I was surprised to see the tiny beginnings of growth.  Yes, there it was!  I was positive I saw the bulging of new leaves that were surfacing from the seemingly dead branches.  As time went on, these bare branches began to be covered by miniature leaves that turned its stark ugliness into soft beauty.  And one day, there it was!  A flower!  Just one so far, but a sign that this section has indeed come out of the deep pruning with growth and beauty.

I’ve pondered a lot lately about how many times our lives are like that Rose of Sharon.  Sometimes God has some pruning to do, cutting away the unnecessary in order to shape us into what we need to be.  This pruning is never pleasant, for pruning involves chopping and chopping usually hurts.  Issues like pride, selfishness, immaturity……….so much unwanted growth in our lives must be severed in order for us to grow into maturity.  And there are seasons when the pruning goes very deep.  God knows when we need that extra pruning, the deep cutting and shaping that is even more painful than anything we have experienced before.  It hurts………….hurts terribly……….and we can either trust our Master Gardener or we can turn away in rebellion and pain.

The hurt is even worse when others around us are apparently thriving, moving on with their lives and their ministries in obvious ways.  We feel bland and unwanted, wondering why God is withholding our blessings and our desires.  When will it be our turn to flower and blossom again?  Why did God cut so profoundly?  While others are healthy, and serving, and smiling, and glowing…………..we feel empty and brown and aimless.  It’s so easy to look around us as we are surrounded by the green leaves and the gorgeous flowers of others, and to feel even more dead and unproductive.  Yet God has a plan in the pruning!  He is the perfect designer of our lives, and it’s in the suffering that we become useful and firmly established in His master plan.

James spoke about this matter of suffering in the familiar verses of James 1:2-4:  “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”   Isn’t it interesting that the word “various” mean “multi-colored?”  Not one of us suffers the same as another.  God has “multi-colored” ways of shaping and growing each of us.  The word “perfect” means “maturity” and the word “complete” carries the idea of “full development.”  So God is telling us to be joyful in the middle of the multi-colored trials that He uses in our pruning, knowing that in the end, if we allow it, we will mature into the full development that God desires.  

In the cutting and the clipping, God is shaping us and growing us into maturity.  Be patient.  Know that “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”  The vibrant leaves will emerge and the beautiful flowers will bloom again someday.  Don’t let the weeds of doubt and bitterness crowd out what God is trying to accomplish.  Be patient, and understand that suffering is what unites us to Christ.  And who knows what new direction and new ministries may grow out of the deep pruning that God is performing in our lives at the moment.  It may take time to see it but be patient, and one day you’ll be enjoying some lovely flowers that will show forth God’s glory!