This past Thursday, on Valentine’s Day, Aaron had his yearly eye exam appointment. The exam went well, even though Aaron doesn’t do so great on the peripheral vision or the puff-of-air glaucoma check. He doesn’t fuss but he just doesn’t see the little faint dots or open his eyes wide enough, or something, so if he was given a pass or fail – those would be a fail. Everything else went fine, thankfully, and we were finished pretty quickly. That gave us an edge on getting a good seat for lunch at Chili’s, which is very near his eye doctor.
We were seated in the colorful booth, and Aaron immediately began to look at the menu choices. He mostly wanted to look at the pictures of the food, for this is his favorite way of picking out what he wants to eat. We completely forgot to talk about what to drink before the server was there to take our drink orders. I reminded Aaron that he didn’t need to look for pictures of the drinks, and I offered him some options. He thought for awhile as the waitress and I patiently waited……….and then loudly asked, “Do you have water?” I chuckled and the waitress nicely told him that yes, they had water, and off she went to get our drinks.
From that point, our friendly waitress wanted to ask me all the questions that were really for Aaron. She looked at me and asked, “Would he like some lemon in his water?” So I looked at Aaron and asked, “Aaron, would you like lemon in your water?” He said no, and off she went. Later, after Aaron ordered chicken strips……..making sure that they were indeed boneless……really and truly boneless……and crispy………our server returned with our food, looked at me and asked, “Would he like sauce? Ranch, barbecue…..?” So I looked at Aaron and asked, “Aaron, would you like sauce? Ranch, barbecue……?” He chose barbecue and again, off she scurried. This scenario happened a few other times. For crying out loud, couldn’t she see that Aaron was fully capable of listening, understanding, and answering? Sometimes people amaze me!
Aaron kept up his usual chatter as we ate. “Mom! That sign says ‘MARGARITA Bar.’ ” He emphasized the word ‘Margarita’ because I think he knows what it means and that he’s not allowed to have that beverage. He continued, as he pointed toward the sign, “Is that beer?” To Aaron, any alcoholic drink is beer. I tried to explain, knowing that he would continue to see it as beer.
We had a lengthy discussion about tornadoes. Aaron is aware that tornado season will be upon us soon, so he’s been talking about it a lot. I should just record my answers to his usual questions and push the button when he begins the discussion. And we also had our running back-and-forth commentary about tornado sirens………..where they are located, what they are for, how they sound, how they rotate, why they rotate…… All the while, Aaron was trying to solve the problem created when his chips and salsa eating was interrupted by the arrival of his meal. He usually eats one item at a time, so the big plate of chicken strips interfered with his chips and salsa. He took a bite or two of his chicken, but decided that this was just too confusing. Plus he noticed that occasionally I would reach over and take a chip, and this was an even bigger problem. He couldn’t risk me finishing off the chips, so he abandoned his chicken and very quickly started scooping up chips, carefully dipping them in the salsa and quickly reaching for another one. He’s so predictable and so all about himself! I know this and I understand, but I teased him anyway and he seemed to not even hear. However, he did notice when I reached over and took one of his French Fries. He promptly moved his plate away from me, and reached for yet another chip. Ah, Aaron!
The server came by and thought that Aaron was finished, so she asked if she could take his plate. Yay! She finally talked TO Aaron! But he moved his plate away from her and told her that he was not finished. He meticulously took each French fry and dipped it carefully into the ketchup……..and somehow was reminded of mayonnaise. “Mom, is mayo another name for mayonnaise?” I told him that it is, and he then went down the road of mayo and mustard. He seems to get them confused continually. “Why is mayo a different name for mustard?” he asked.
Mayo is not a different name for mustard, Aaron. Mayo is mayonnaise and mustard is mustard.
“Oh,” he replied. “So mustard……..it’s called mayo?”
No, Aaron. Mustard is mustard. Mayo is mayonnaise. They are different things.
“So is mayo mustard?” he asked.
AHHHHH!!!! I reminded him that mayo is white and mustard is yellow……….and he nodded and went on to the next subject, even as I wondered if he got mayo and mustard straight in that brain of his. I doubt it.
“Mom, I told Barb that I wish I was young.” I told him that he is not old and he said, “I’m 28!”………as if 28 is indeed very old! So I said, “Well, to me you’re young. But to an 8 year old you might seem a little old.”
I wondered what I was thinking as he responded, “So to an 8 year old I’m half old?” I was just trying to formulate my answer to that question when he continued, “So I’m half old and half young?” I love how his mind works as he connects the dots that my comment created…….half old and half young…………and I was a bit relieved when the server came to our table with the bill and Aaron said to her, “It seems like your voice is kind of high!”
She laughed and I laughed, and Aaron wanted to know if he was being rude. Soon we were ready to leave, and before we got up from the booth I reminded Aaron not to clap……….and please don’t stare at people or point to their food………….and don’t make any farting noises with his mouth…………..and by all means, DO NOT STRETCH!!!! If you’ve seen Aaron stop in the middle of a crowded restaurant and stretch, you would totally understand this instruction from me. Hands high about his head, stomach way out, and lots of noises. Think gorilla.
We safely and rather quietly left the restaurant, with Aaron talking all the way………which is never really quiet, but it beats the stretching routine any day.
I am somewhat mentally fatigued whenever I have an outing with Aaron that involves public settings and other people and food and plenty of time for rather loud conversations and the presence of BEER in any form! But he’s never boring and he’s actually delightful if I take the time to really listen……….like the half old and half young comment. I wonder if I’m the only one who understands that connection that he made.
And I’m thankful for the connection that I have………that we as a family have……….to this very unique Aaron…………noisy, one-of-a-kind Aaron!