I’ve been making a concerted effort to work with Aaron on some basic manners…….behaviors that can get overlooked far too easily in the routine of our days. One of the big ones is to say a simple “thank you” when I do something for him. Aaron can be demanding, and it’s all too easy to overlook his lack of thanks on some days. But too much overlooking can lead to ingrained behaviors on his part……and on mine. I can get as accustomed to his lack of thanks as he can get to being demanding. Therefore, when he wants something from me I pause beside him after giving him his request. I just stand there watching as Aaron starts getting a little uncomfortable, and then he’ll chuckle softly and flatly say, “Thanks.”
Aaron’s mornings this past week were stellar for the most part. He was compliant and pleasant, willing to go to his day group and able to pull himself together when he was feeling a little out of sorts. But this morning……….let’s just say that I was having a full payback for so many happy days last week. Was it the full moon last night? Was it the rain this morning? Was it that Aaron woke up at 6:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep? Was it that today is bowling day for Paradigm, and he doesn’t want to go bowling? Whatever it was, it was NOT fun!
He and I were sitting on the patio, watching the storm clouds darken and enjoying the lightning. He was eating some peanuts and even offered me some. I took his jar of peanuts and poured a few in my hand, but he insisted that I put them into his ever-present bowl. I dumped them into the bowl because I knew that this was important to him, and then I picked them out one by one as I ate them and as Aaron enjoyed sharing them. What a nice morning! Until I mentioned getting ready to start our day……..and Aaron said, “Do I have to go today?! I don’t want to go bowling.”
My internal alarms started buzzing as I sensed that Aaron was serious in his questioning. He wasn’t at all jovial but instead had an edge to his voice that told me our pleasant morning might be drawing to a close. Just like the approaching storm became closer and more intense, so Aaron’s approaching mood change was storming upon our nice time together. He became verbal, letting me know that he was very unhappy with me for telling him that he had to go to Paradigm.
I finally went inside and so did he, but I went on up to my room to get ready……closing and locking my door as I wished that I could just as easily close out his ill behavior. After my shower, I opened my door and found him outside in the hall………still angry and still insisting that he wasn’t going to his group today and still informing me of what a bad mother I was. He knows that if he doesn’t go to his group because of his anger, then he doesn’t get his computer keyboard. Seeing me also confiscate the TV control only confirmed to him his awful predicament……and increased his anger.
I won’t go into all the words he used……..no cursing but certainly some name-calling and much anger. It’s a side of Aaron that I don’t like to share. He isn’t funny Aaron at this point but is instead very hateful and frustrated. His lack of filters and self-control is fully visible, trust me. However, he did get dressed and had me help him with his belt. He wanted me to look at his tooth that was sore……..and therefore I was able to show him some small measure of love and care as I gazed into his wide-open mouth and then gave him some Ibuprofen. He softened. I was still mostly silent, showing him that hurt inflicted upon others isn’t so easily shrugged off.
Earlier in the morning I had told him that we could stop to get him something at Dillon’s, so as we prepared to leave he asked if we could instead run by Sonic and get him a milk shake. A milk shake this early? I thought about it, and then agreed………with little emotion. He knew that Mom was still upset. He reaches a point in these moments when he seems to realize that he has crossed a line, but he doesn’t know how to make it right……..how to extricate himself from the muddy mess he’s in.
He talked on the mile drive to Sonic, but his chatter was tempered by my silence. We pulled through the drive-through and soon Aaron had his favorite Hot Fudge Sundae milkshake. He even blew his straw wrapper on me, which was sure to bring a smile……….but he saw that Mom was still not so happy. I drove a little ways more, and then out of the blue……… rather quietly and quickly………Aaron said, “Thanks.”
Oh, Aaron. I knew he was grasping at this point for anything that might break the ice……..and he remembered that Mom liked it when he said thanks like he was taught to do. The ice around my heart melted a little, which he sensed and so he proceeded to talk and talk. And I took the opportunity to say, “Aaron, when you are upset you need to just talk to me nicely about what’s bothering you.” I gave him some examples as we neared our destination, but I knew that he was just glad that Mom was talking. He wasn’t exactly taking notes on what I was saying. Does he ever?
Well, yes, he does. He said thanks, didn’t he? He wanted to do at least one thing right on this morning……and he wanted Mom to be at least a little pleased with him. He happily climbed in the Paradigm van and off he went for his day. I went home to collect my thoughts and lick my wounds, and regroup for the time that he barrels in the door at the end of his day.
Thanks. A small word that carries a lot of weight. A word I need to remember on a day such as this as I thank the Lord for everything, as the Bible says I should do……….even grouchy Aaron.
Especially grouchy Aaron!