A couple days ago, Aaron woke up in a very bad mood. He’s been awfully tired lately, and he certainly was on this particular morning. He was in no frame of mind to be messed with………and my telling him to get ready to leave for his group was definitely messing with him! I knew we were in trouble when he said, “Mom! I don’t want to go today!! They’re having tuna sandwiches for lunch!!!!”
This was on Wednesday, and on Wednesdays Paradigm fixes lunch at the center for the clients. I’ve learned that if Aaron doesn’t want to go on that day, then he’ll tell me that they’re fixing tuna sandwiches…………figuring that Mom will wonder who on planet earth would expect their son to eat TUNA sandwiches??!! In my deep empathy, I would certainly invite Aaron to stay at home and watch movies and play computer games and maybe even eat pizza, if he’s lucky. I mean, come on………TUNA?!
What Aaron doesn’t understand is that: 1. I like tuna. 2. I don’t get why he shouldn’t like tuna. 3. I fell for the tuna trick once and that was enough. 4. I know how to text Barb in order to check his story.
So text I did, and Barb told me that they were having ham and turkey sandwiches. And I should add a number 5. I had bought food for Aaron at Sam’s to take to Paradigm to eat for his lunch when he wanted. Food that Aaron likes………..but on this Wednesday Aaron informed me that he did NOT like the food from Sam’s either. He began playing the blame game, saying, “Mom, it’s your fault for getting me that food at Sam’s!!” As well as, “Mom, it’s your fault for making me go!” And of course, “Mom, it’s your fault that I’m tired!!” Really?
Now I’ve been sick this week, probably strep, and on that day was feeling none too good. I was not in the mood for a fight or for a game of “Who Can Win This Argument?” or for any hateful behavior on Aaron’s part. It was probably a good thing that I was moving like a turtle, both physically and mentally. I was talking slowly and softly, moving slowly and methodically……………feeling like I was in slow motion. Aaron seemed to feed off of my slowness, because he didn’t escalate like he usually does………even when I told him that he was indeed going to Paradigm, and that he could indeed eat some of his awful food from Sam’s.
When Aaron gets really mad, he’ll try to break something – and often succeeds. Many times he’ll break something that is important to him, like his watch or his remote. He’s gotten better, though, since the day I told him that if he broke something then I would break something else of his. He didn’t like those terms. On this day, he picked up his remote and then put it down again, but rather hard, and I gave him my warning. He followed me into the bathroom and continued to rant, increasingly unhappy that I had texted Barb and that I knew the fallacy of the tuna sandwich story. His mind was probably already concocting another horrible lunch dish to try on me the next time.
Aaron knew that I wasn’t feeling well, but I didn’t mention it at all during this episode. I knew he would show no concern or care, and that it would only make things worse. I continued to move slowly, to talk softly, and to show no emotion. And he began to de-escalate. He was calming down, for whatever reason, and I was hoping that the worst of the storm was over. I walked into his room and found him sitting in his desk chair. He turned the chair and himself toward me as I stood there, and then the most surprising thing happened. He reached for me…………and I drew back for an instant, thinking that he might be wanting to slap at me. But he was reaching for me, with his head down………….no eye contact……….and so I went closer. He wanted to hug me! I reached out to put my arm around his shoulders, and he laid his head on my chest………..like little Aaron from years ago. Then he said, “I’m sorry.”
It’s amazing how those two words, spoken with true contrition, can wipe the slate clean. There are times that Aaron says he’s sorry, but he says it with such an attitude that you know he doesn’t mean it. Something like, “OK!! I’m sorry!! Are you happy??!”……..just doesn’t cut it. But his contrition and tone of voice were sincere, genuine, heartfelt…………and it deeply touched my heart. I treasured that hug and I thanked him, then left the room………..still walking slowly but with more lift in my step and more joy in my heart.
I stopped by Sonic on our way to meet his group, and let him buy a grape Slushie. And we listened to his favorite CD………..The Four Tops, of course! And of course, Aaron talked!
“Mom, what’s that jinging sound they’re making in that song?”
It’s a tambourine, Aaron. You know, they hit it against their leg or against their hand.
“Oh, I thought they hit it on their head.” And he laughed, and I laughed at the thought of hitting the tambourine on their head………even though I’m sure that Aaron would like that way of playing a tambourine much better than the normal, boring way.
“Mom, The Four Tops sang in the old days.”
Do the 60’s seem like the old days to you, Aaron? “YES!!” he answered……..as I felt very old.
“Mom, I noticed something. They sing about women. What’s so important about women?!”
I was just starting to expound on the importance of women when we pulled up to the van to join his group. Too bad! I had a lot to say on that topic!
I also know the importance of Aaron…………even on the bad days. And I know the importance of his genuine “I’m sorry.” How healing those words are, across the board, in our lives. How impacting they are when they are said with true repentance and sincerity…………..and when they came from our Aaron.