The Legend of Aaron

Today was an Aaron day, meaning that I spent several hours of one-on-one time with Aaron.  It also means that my ears need a little rest, so while he’s upstairs on his computer I decided to write a few words about our time together.  Writing………not talking.  What bliss!

I first ran Aaron by the lab at our Eberly Farm clinic so he could have some blood drawn.  We’re still checking his medicine levels as well as being sure that his weight loss isn’t pointing to a significant problem.  Aaron enjoys the lab and that’s a blessing.  He especially enjoyed being shown to the seat in the lab that is right beside the telephone.  I usually stand near him, not because he is in any way scared, but because he loves to pick up the empty vials or some of the other items that are conveniently located right beside his chair.  Today, though, it was the telephone that held his interest.   All those buttons were calling his name!  He finally laughed as I over and over told him to NOT touch the phone.  It becomes a game to him…… that he is sure to win if I even once turn my back.

Not long after we left the lab, we were at the dentist.  The staff at Baxter Dental Associates are so good with Aaron.  He is comfortable there, so much so that I don’t even go back with him like I used to do for many years.  I just hope that he’s compliant and not stubborn, and since nothing has been said otherwise, I’ll continue to happily assume that this is true.  But once the cleaning is complete, Aaron is more than in a hurry to go………because he knows that we are going to eat lunch out somewhere.  He does start getting grouchy if I linger over making his follow-up appointment or stand there chatting too long.  He knows his mother’s propensity for lingering chats!

Soon, though, we were seated at On The Border.  Our nice waitress came to take our drink orders, and Aaron asked if they had tea.  He said yes to the tea, even when he found out that it was unsweetened tea.  I then ordered water and Aaron loudly asked, “OH!!!  Do you have water??!!”  He’s done this before, but it’s always funny……and thankfully our waitress laughed as well.  I could tell that she liked Aaron, and that set me at ease.  Aaron’s nearly always at ease since he doesn’t read people’s facial expressions or body language.  He just barges on ahead, being Aaron, and oblivious to any questioning looks or uncomfortable stares from others. 

We ordered our salads and tacos, sipped our water, and dipped our chips in the free Queso that we got today.  Aaron was busy talking between bites, of course.  “Mom, Dad said that he might work on my computer.  What does ‘might’ mean?” 

Might means might, Aaron. 

“So can I call Dad and ask him if he’s going to work on my computer?”

No, Aaron, you don’t need to call Dad at work. 

And I have no idea how many times this conversation was repeated.  Be glad that I’m not going to write it out.

Our salads came and Aaron was busy dumping every drop of his dressing on his salad.  I told him that he didn’t need every drop and he agreed……….putting down his little dressing container……..and immediately grabbing mine and holding it up high to drain my few remaining drops of dressing.  All the while he was talking about how hard it is to work at a restaurant, and how Dad has told him that it’s hard work because sometimes people are fussy.  “Is that true, Mom? ” he asked.  “Why are some people fussy?”

As we discussed this issue, I thought it was really insightful when Aaron said, “The restaurant people serve us.  We don’t need to be fussing at them.”  I was wishing that he had this same philosophy about me when the waitress returned to fill his glass of water………and Aaron repeated this conversation to her, oblivious to the fact that her tables were full and she was busy and Mom was telling him that she needed to go.  She was sweet, though, and patient with Aaron. 

Aaron had other insights, too……….like wondering what the little powder things were that were on top of the lettuce……..and then saying, “Mom, I noticed something.  This is a Mexican restaurant!”  Well, it isn’t Chinese, Aaron…… we munched on our TACOS.

I was asking how his visit with the dentist went.  “Mom, I told the dentist that I’ve seen some people who are fat!  I’m not talking about you!”

He added that last sentence so quickly that I questioned him about it, and he assured me that he was not talking about me.  Then he asked, “Mom, do you think you’re fat?  What do you think about being fat?”  And immediately he added, “I’m not saying anything!!” 

You’ve already said enough, Aaron. 

He was intrigued with the parsley, which he held up in order to give it an examination.  He wondered if I have some dried parsley at home.  “Mom, do you have some of that in the cabinet where the pepper balls are?”  That would be Peppercorns to most of us, but pepper balls to Aaron.

He also had to hold up the dark tortilla chip that was on top of the refried beans, saying that he had never heard of a black chip.  And the beans made him remember something.  “Mom, have you ever heard the legend that if you eat beans, you fart?”  I was hoping that no one around us heard Aaron’s telling of this legend, even as I urged him to not use “that” word in public.  Of course, any discussion of this legend should not be made in public, but all of that was lost on Aaron.  He was already in a discussion with the waitress about whether we could take the chips home along with the Queso that we had left.  I was thankful that he wasn’t telling her about the legend.

She happily brought us our containers, and Aaron just had to ask her about slushies.  Yes, slushies.  Do those new pineapple slushies have pineapple in them?  Do the other slushies have fruit?  How are slushies made?  Do slushies have ice in them?  Do you like slushies? 

Sweet, patient waitress.  She had answers for Aaron and smiles for Aaron……..and she got an extra tip from me. 

Home again, home again……..where Aaron left me to carry in the Queso and the chips that he wanted so badly, as well as his dentist bag of goodies……….and where he left the garage door open so that Jackson could come out and the heat could go in………and where he zoomed downstairs to ask Andrew if he wanted to watch a DVD on his Blu-Ray player in his room………..

Have I told you about the legend of Aaron?  Sometimes he’s all about Aaron and sometimes he’s not…………sometimes he’s interesting and sometimes he’s frustrating.   

And he always keeps me on my toes.   

Do You Know Shiphrah and Puah?

If you had asked me this past Saturday who Shiphrah and Puah are, I would have responded, “Uh………you know, as familiar as those names sound, I’m just not remembering Shiphrah and Puah right now.”  Perhaps some of you know of these two women, but I would have drawn a blank.  Not now, though.  Yesterday’s message at church from Exodus 1 reintroduced me to these two women, and I’m very thankful for that privilege.
For a little background, the people of Israel had traveled to Egypt under the rule of Joseph.  Jacob’s family grew and grew, filling the land of Egypt and becoming mighty.  All the original Israelites had died, including Jacob and Joseph, as well as the Pharaoh who knew and loved Joseph.  A new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph.  This king became fearful of the numbers of Israelites who lived in the land, thinking that if there was war then the Israelites would join with the enemy and overtake Egypt.  Therefore, this king made the Israelites become slaves……….but the more he afflicted the people of Israel, the more they multiplied and spread out.
Seeing that Plan A wasn’t working, this Pharaoh moved on to Plan B.  He ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill all the boy babies that were born, thinking that this barbaric form of birth control would limit the growth of the Israelites and thus eventually rid Egypt of the Jews.  This is where Shiphrah and Puah come in.  They were midwives……….probably two chief midwives.  Pharaoh instructed them to kill the boy babies that were born to the Israelite women but to keep the girl babies alive.  Simple enough, right?
But Pharaoh didn’t count on one complication.  Exodus 1:17 says, “BUT the midwives feared God…….”  This fear of God forced Shiphrah and Puah to make a decision.  Verse 17 continues, “……….and did not do as the King of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live.”  So sure enough, Pharaoh found out that Shiphrah and Puah were not killing baby Israelite boys………and he called these two midwives to come in for a little meeting.
I don’t know how Shiphrah and Puah felt at this point, but I imagine they were more than a little scared.  This is Pharaoh, who had no qualms about killing innocent baby boys and other Israelites as well.  From everything that was going on around him………….everything that he had initiated concerning the Jews…………..this Pharaoh seems more than a tad bit brutal.  I wish we knew all that was said at this appearance before Pharaoh.  I love thinking of the bravery of Shiphrah and Puah!  Yet it goes far beyond being brave.
Shiphrah and Puah were obedient to God, first and foremost.  I imagine that they feared Pharaoh………..but they feared God more.  This is the fear of God that involves reverence OF Him, and trust IN Him.  It’s the fear of God that Peter and the apostles had when they were given strict orders by the authorities not to teach about Jesus anymore………and Peter answered in Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.”
So back to Egypt.   I had never paid much attention to the fact that in verses 20 and 21, God lets us know that He was “good to the midwives.”  Verse 21 clearly says that “…….because the midwives feared God, that He established households for them.”  God blessed them and was good to them because of their obedience.
I really like Shiphrah and Puah.  I love the example they have set for me…………an example that is both profound and yet very simple.  Obedience to God comes first, in every single area of my life.  Obedience takes many different forms for each of us, but in whatever area that God is requiring obedience to Him, it’s best to obey.  Solomon said it so well in Ecclesiastes 8:12, “Although a sinner does evil a hundred times and may lengthen his life, still I know that it will be well for those who fear God – who fear Him openly.”
Shiphrah and Puah probably wondered if they would have their heads cut off……….or worse……… they stood before the king and declared their loyalty to God.  I don’t know what my obedience to God will cost me, but obey I must.  I do know that God promises it will be well for me if I obey.  His blessings take various forms, and some we won’t see until eternity.  But we can take God at His word and know that it will be well for us when we fear Him, and fear Him openly.
Shiphrah and Puah are amazing!  Not because they were women, or because they stood up to mean old Pharaoh, or because they saved babies………all of which are important…….but they are amazing because they obeyed God above anyone and anything.  That’s the kind of amazing I want to be, every day, through good and bad.  Whatever the pressure……whatever the decision………whatever the pain……….whatever the outcome………


Fearing and obeying God!

A Blessing or a Bother

I bought some eggplant the other day.  I knew that this would create quite a stir in our house, and that’s because Aaron loves the unusual.  To most of us, eggplant is mundane………..maybe a little odd in appearance, but certainly nothing that should cause excitement.  But most of us are not Aaron.  To him, eggplant is odd; and anything that is odd gives him pause and then becomes a matter of great curiosity…….and much conversation. 

He saw the eggplant sitting on the kitchen counter that evening.  Soon I heard, “Mom!  There’s an eggplant!”  It was as if he had seen one of his movie aliens sitting on our kitchen counter, legs dangling and eyes flashing.  Such was the level of Aaron’s excitement.  Later I went in the family room, where Aaron was nestled in his favorite chair with all of his necessary items around him and his new blanket covering him nursing home style.  There, perched in his lap, lay the eggplant.  Aaron held it up happily for me to see as if it was my first eggplant experience, and his as well.  I laughed and snapped a picture, and Aaron was very pleased to have this close encounter with an eggplant.

Yesterday morning I was once again reminded of how the usual becomes the unusual to Aaron.  Way, way out in a field behind our house there is a tall tower of some sort.  On top of this thin steel tower there is a flashing red light.  For years Aaron has talked about this flashing light, dim in the distance.  It’s certainly not a bright intrusion into our home in the dark of night, but Aaron notices it constantly none-the-less.  Of course, when Aaron notices anything he will then talk it to death…….which he has done concerning this tower over the years.  What kind of tower?  Who built the tower?  What is the tower made of?  Why does it have a flashing red light on top?  Who takes care of the tower?  Will the tower fall?  Will the tower get struck by lightning? 

Aaron has blinds on his bedroom windows, but he has never wanted to use them at night.  In fact, they were never even lowered at all…………until this past winter, when we had new siding put on our house and a new paint job.  When the workers were going to be right outside Aaron’s window early in the morning, we decided to lower and close his blinds the night before.  This gave him privacy the next morning.  I wasn’t sure how he would react to this change, but he didn’t mind it at all……..and I was surprised. 

Now the worker’s job has been completed and there is no need to close Aaron’s blinds at night.  However, he still wants them closed.  That’s no problem, of course, but is still somewhat unusual for Aaron.  Yesterday morning, Aaron brought this subject up once again, telling me that he had decided to keep his blinds closed because that flashing red light bothered him.  I expressed surprise at this announcement, and reminded him that for years he hadn’t been bothered by the far off red light. 

He quickly replied, “Well, I decided it’s bothering me now.” 

I’ve thought about these two scenarios since yesterday……….the eggplant and the flashing red light.  Aaron has chosen for one to be a blessing and for one to be a bother.   It’s clearly a conscious choice that he is making, even though with Aaron his autism does play a part.

How about me?  What am I choosing today, and every day?  Sometimes I allow situations or people or things to be a bother when they really don’t have to be that in my life at all.  Sometimes my own son is a bother!  It’s natural to get tired of the constant talking, or his quirky ways that impact every single day of my life, or his mood swings………and many other areas of Aaron.  The choice is mine, though.  I can decide that it’s bothering me……….or I can decide…….

…………..that these things are BLESSING me!  Just like the goofy eggplant……..a blessing instead of a bother.  I don’t always make the wise choice, but I know that I do HAVE a choice.  So despite the irritations……the flashing red light out in the distance………..I know that I need to choose instead to hold each situation just like Aaron held up the eggplant.  Hold it up with a smile and with at least some measure of joy……..and be able to see how unique and special each part of my life is. 

There’s Aaron again………teaching me lessons and he doesn’t even know it!  I would say that he’s a blessing!

Our Both Way

This morning when I walked into Aaron’s room to get him moving along on this beautiful day, I found him watching a movie.  I happily said, “Good Morning, Aaron!”  as I always happily say………and as usual, he very sadly replied, “I’m not feeling well.”  He speaks this in his softest, most flat and pathetic voice that he can muster.  It’s really laughable……….but I don’t dare laugh.  I remember the morning that I didn’t exactly laugh, but I somehow demonstrated to Aaron that I wasn’t buying his woeful tale of how bad he felt.  First he said, “You just don’t understand me!”  He waited for some effect from this statement and when there was none, he walked away as he very mournfully said, “Nobody listens to me in this house……….people don’t.”  I nearly cried – from laughter.  Certainly not from pity.  Sometimes he could be a candidate for an Oscar!

So today I just walked away, and then soon returned to urge Aaron once again to move upward and onward.  He then told me that his eye hurt and he was just sure that he had a black eye.  Of course, he didn’t have a black eye.  He had just rubbed it so much that it hurt some.  Too bad, Aaron.  Another hopeful ploy to stay home was foiled! 

I then told Aaron that I would fix some bacon and eggs, which we could eat out on the patio, but that he needed to shower and get ready.  He suddenly became much more animated as he said, “Yeah!  And can Jackson come out with us?”  I knew exactly what Aaron was anticipating……….the challenge of sneaking Jackson some food without Mom seeing him.  Oh, I can read Aaron like a book!  In so many ways he never changes, yet always amazes……..and frustrates!  In his sameness he still manages to be ever interesting!

This train of thought led me to think of some areas where Aaron hardly ever changes.  He shows us his personality and the intricate way that his brain functions in so many pieces of his life.  Here are a few from just the past several days:

FOOD:  Aaron does love to eat and to snack……….less now than he used to, but he does still enjoy food.  Every Friday, when Paradigm usually goes to see a movie, he asks if he can have a large buttered popcorn.  And every Friday, I tell him that he can have a large popcorn but to try it unbuttered………..which he never does.  The last movie day found him running in the house when he got home, and telling me all about his large buttered popcorn.  “Mom!  They make the butter into a water kind of way!”  This remark led us into a rather lengthy discussion of just what in world melted butter really is, etc., etc.

He loves peanuts, so while I was shopping at Dillon’s this past Friday I got him some peanuts.  However, these peanuts are not like the Planters peanuts that he has had recently.   The only difference is that they are the Dillon’s brand.  I should have known!  He won’t eat them!  AAHHHH!!!  But he took them to Paradigm today to either give away, or somehow to force some down himself.  Good grief!  They can’t be that different……….to anyone but Aaron!

Aaron excited about trying to feed Jackson

And he will always and forever have a spoon with every meal.  He will also have multiple forks and other utensils, even if he doesn’t intend to use them.  Notice this picture of him with his plate of eggs this morning……..and a spoon.

WRIST WATCH:  He likes a watch that has the day and the date on it.  Recently, that feature on his watch wasn’t quite working right.  The day was stuck.  Therefore, Aaron wouldn’t wear the watch.  It didn’t make any difference that I went on and on about the fact that the watch kept perfect time.  Nope. It was defective to Aaron and he would not let it touch his arm at all.  I bought him a new watch with a smaller band since he’s lost weight.  This is the other thing about Aaron and watches.  He wears his wrist watch nowhere near his wrist.  He pushes it halfway up his arm.  Since he’s lost weight, I thought a smaller band would encourage him to wear his WRIST watch where every other person on earth wears one……….on his wrist.  Look at this picture of him again this morning and closely observe where his watch is located.  I think if his arm turned blue from lack of blood he wouldn’t care.   Seriously.

JACKSON:  Aaron loves our Great Dane, Jackson.  He actually really loves to feed Jackson.  It doesn’t matter what it is……….a piece of popcorn, a Mike and Ike, a stick………….Aaron will hold it out for Jackson to sniff and examine, in the hopes that Jackson will scarf it down.  One reason we quit buying rawhides and other treats was because Aaron would inevitably find our hiding place, and then every time we turned around Jackson would have a rawhide dangling from his mouth like a giant cigar. 

Aaron asked the other day which was smarter – dogs or cats?  After my little lecture, Aaron summed it up succinctly by saying, “Both animals have their both way of being smart.”  He says it so much better than I do!  But I know that our Jackson is very smart when it comes to Aaron.  Look at him this morning, waiting in the wings behind Aaron.  Aaron had already very quickly scooted a chunk of egg off his plate when my eyes were averted for a mere split second, and Jackson just as quickly lunged under the table to gobble it down. 

MOVIE CREDITS:  When Aaron watches a movie, Aaron watches the entire movie.  ENTIRELY.  From the very beginning to the very, very ending…………down to the very last teeny tiny little print at the end of the credits.  The movie is not over until the screen is black.  I walked in his room the other night to find him intensely riveted on……….the credits. 

BED TIMES:  When I say bed times, I mean that Aaron keeps a list of the times that he turns his light out at night, and the times that he gets up in the morning.  He does this Every.  Single.  Day.  Here is but one page of his recorded bed times.  He has filled up multiple notebooks over the years. 

HANDY ANSWER BOOKS:  Aaron loves his Handy Answer Books.  They come in a wide variety of subjects.  He will, as with movies, read these books from the very first word to the very last word……….including the table of contents, the index, and the lists at the end of resources or web sites.  Last night he showed me this page that he had come to in his reading.  He didn’t think that this would be very interesting to him……….but this morning I saw his bookmark placed a couple pages over, showing that he had indeed read this part that he wasn’t very excited about reading.  I knew he would!  It’s got to be more exciting than the index!

TOILETS:  I wrote once about Aaron’s long-standing fear of toilets.  Here is a link to that blog post:  There are many facets of this fear.  We have three new toilets in our house and all of them have a much smaller amount of water in them than our old ones did. Aaron is sure that these toilets are stopped up……….a battle that he has yet to quiet overcome.  He pretty frequently will tell us that one of the toilets is stopped up, but it’s usually not.  He will not venture near it until he is sure that it’s in the clear.

This morning, as I was washing my hands, Aaron refused to come in my bathroom to talk.  Finally he said, “Mom, did you flush your toilet?” And I realized as I finished with my hands that no, I had in my haste not performed that task…………but Aaron had registered that oversight in his mind and he wasn’t stepping one foot in there until I flushed!!  He did not want to talk about it, either……….but I knew. 

Well, I must end this……… pun intended concerning the above paragraph.  Aaron will be home soon with more stories of his day, and I may be physically or mentally taking notes so I won’t forget the unique way that he verbalizes so many things.  You know, if he asked who was smarter…………Aaron or Mom………….I might have a hard time answering that. 
We both have our both way, like Aaron says!  Glad I wrote that one down!!