Last night I walked into Aaron’s room to say goodnight because, as some of you may remember from previous blogs, Aaron much prefers that I say goodnight to him IN his room……….not in the hall, not in our bedroom, not in the bathroom as he brushes his teeth……….but IN his room. Some of the fastest walking that you’ll see Aaron do is when he’s ready to say goodnight and is afraid that I’ll attempt to do that outside of his room. He walks at a fast clip down the hall so that he can get IN his room and then turn to say goodnight. Ah, the mysteries of autism!
Aaron was sitting in his desk chair as I walked into his bedroom. His computer was shut down, but there he sat……….looking down at the floor. I sat on the bed and he looked up at me, so I asked him if he was ready for bed. He told me that he was and then he said, “Mom, no one likes me.” I was puzzled at this statement and sad, too, at both his verbal expression and then also what was
written on his face.
I responded, “Well, Aaron, that’s not true at all. Lots of people like you. We like you! And you have lots of friends at Paradigm.”
He quickly answered, “A girl doesn’t like me.”
So this was the problem…….this was why he was pensive and quiet. As we have watched him develop a special friendship with Rosie, we have tried to discourage romantic feelings while we instead encourage the friendship side of their relationship. Rosie’s mother agrees. Romance, in whatever form that might take with Aaron and Rosie, is fraught with concerns. As I sat there wondering where this conversation would lead, he continued by telling me of an incident where someone at Paradigm had told him that he doesn’t have a girlfriend.
Aaron is struggling with this notion of not having a girlfriend, and of wondering where Rosie fits into this situation. I urged him last night to be thankful for the wonderful friendship that he and Rosie have………that she doesn’t have to be called his girlfriend for them to be close friends……..that nothing anyone says can change the special bond that he and Rosie have.
I watched him as he sat there listening to me. And I knew that I was in some trouble when he looked up and said, “Were you and Dad friends?” I paused…….and took a breath………..and prayed for wisdom, even as I told him that Dad and I were indeed friends in college. Then Aaron, as he was connecting the dots and I was wishing for an eraser, continued, “So you and Dad became boyfriend and girlfriend. What’s up with that?”
Why did I, once again but more now than ever, feel trapped? Why was I feeling guilty that my friendship with Gary went into this boyfriend/girlfriend realm? Was it because now Aaron was figuring out my hypocrisy? I could tell him to remain friends with Rosie but Dad and I didn’t do the same?
I had to answer his question that was hanging there between us – “What’s up with that?” So I smiled and said, “Well, Aaron, we fell in love.”
He thought for a few seconds and then said, “Hmmmm……..so that’s what it is?”
I wanted to say, “What WHAT is??!!” But I calmly said yes, that’s what it is. Dad and I fell in love.
With that, the conversation was over. Aaron got up, we hugged and said our goodnights, and I gladly closed the door. I wasn’t in our bedroom more than a minute when I heard Aaron’s door open and heard him knock on our bedroom door. Gary asked him what he wanted and Aaron said, for me to hear, “Mom, so you say Rosie doesn’t have to be my girlfriend?”
Oh, Aaron. I repeated that no, she doesn’t need to be called his girlfriend in order for them to be good and special friends. He said OK and thumped back up the hall to his room, closed his door, and ended the conversation. But I know it’s not the end of this issue. Aaron is thinking and his heart is confused. He’s a 28 year old man with the thoughts of a confused adolescent. We would not deny Aaron any happiness in the world that was of no harm to him. Yet this issue of love is tricky ground for our special needs children……..our children who are actually adults.
I have to give it to him…………he is putting two and two together, and realizing that for Dad and I it equaled four………so why can’t it equal four for him and Rosie, also? And while we don’t mind if Aaron and Rosie are called boyfriend and girlfriend, we know what the next natural step is and we can’t even go there in our minds. Marriage may be the farthest thing from Aaron’s mind, but at one time so was the thought of having a girlfriend.
Aaron feels……..deeply. Aaron thinks…..also deeply. And we all know that Aaron talks……a lot. I know that he will talk about this subject again, and I know that Gary and I will need wisdom to say the right things and to not brush away his feelings and his longings.
Maybe the next time he brings it up, I’ll give him the best answer I can think of…….go talk to your dad!!