A very unpleasant and unattractive trait of Asperger’s Syndrome is the tendency to be very egocentric. Dear old Aaron shows this side of himself every single day…………some days and some situations more than others. His inability to manage his emotions and his self-focus can be extremely frustrating at times.
Mom! I’m hungry!
Mom! I’m tired!
Mom! I’m bored!
Mom! I’m sleepy!
Mom! I’m curious!
Mom! I’m awake!
Mom! I’m cold!
Mom! I’m hot!
It can be wearying sometimes for Gary and I. We often try to bring Aaron’s attention to the needs of others and to how someone other than himself is feeling. Aaron is rarely affected by this attempt………..but when he does show concern for others, and especially for Gary or me, it certainly does touch our hearts. I’ve written about that when I talked about the hug he gave me one night when I was sick or the bandaid he brought me when I hurt myself. Those moments are all the more precious to us because we know that they come from a place deep inside Aaron that we rarely see.
Last night we did not see a very caring attitude. I had come upstairs to get ready for bed. Aaron got very excited about a video from You Tube that he wanted to show me. Even though I was tired, I agreed to watch the video, which was an old music video of Billy Joel’s song Uptown Girl. Aaron loves this song and he was as tickled as he could be to share this video with me. He giggled and clapped and kept turning to look at my reaction as we watched this video. He really was hilarious with his reaction and I was laughing along with him, but not for the same reasons that he was laughing. We even watched another video of a second song. It was a fun way to end our day.
Just as Aaron turned the video off, Gary came up the stairs………..also very tired and walking slowly because of his aching back. Of course, Aaron wanted to show Dad the Uptown Girl video and of course Gary just really wanted to go to bed. But Gary came back to Aaron’s room and stood there through the whole video, aching back and all, enjoying the moment with us and laughing as I did at Aaron’s delighted reaction. Then it was time for goodnights and sleep well and love you, Aaron…………..except not for Aaron, who wanted Dad to also watch that second video. But Gary said no, and explained that it was late, even as I was telling Aaron that Dad’s back really was hurting and that he needed to go on to bed.
Aaron didn’t care at all about our tiredness, or the lateness of the hour, and certainly not about the fact that his Dad’s back was hurting. His full focus was on that second video that he wanted Gary to watch. We went on our way to our bedroom, but I came out later to answer a question of Aaron’s and found that he was escalating upwards in his anger. According to Aaron, Dad didn’t care and Dad was mean………..even as I calmly reminded Aaron that Dad had watched the video that Aaron really wanted to show him and that Dad had laughed and that Dad had answered Aaron’s questions about the video…………yet none of this mattered to Aaron. He was focused on what Dad had NOT done instead of what he HAD done.
Then I explained to Aaron that Dad’s back was hurting and that he needed to lay down, but Aaron actually said these words, “Why should I care?” As I reminded Aaron of who had upgraded his computer recently and who had gotten him a new chair and who had done this and done that for him……….I could see Aaron softening a little but still being belligerent because his immediate desire had not been fulfilled. His selfishness was on full display, ugly as it was, but in Aaron’s unfiltered world it was out there for all to see.
This whole scene reminds me so starkly of my relationship to the Lord. How self-serving and demanding I can sometimes be with the One Who loves me so much! God gives me blessing after blessing, but how often do I focus on what I don’t have or on what I perceive as unanswered prayer? How many times do I not stop to thank Him for what He has done in so many areas of my life personally or in this world in general? Do I praise Him and acknowledge His faithfulness and His power and His love? Or do I whine and complain and stay self-focused? God has dealt with me over the years about these very issues……..about the importance of praise and worship in my prayer life………of seeking His will in my requests and not my own will………..of the attitude of gratefulness that we are reminded of so often in scripture.
Even as we try to patiently understand and continually work with Aaron on being less “it’s all about me”, so I know that God looks down in love on Patty and must sigh at my self-centeredness. When I see Him in that light, I feel like His child for sure and I am very thankful that He is a long suffering and loving Father to me.
We’ll keep working with Aaron………….and God will keep working with us.