Today we are facing what has become our annual Aaron dilemma at this Halloween time of year. His day group, Paradigm, is having their Halloween party tomorrow. Aaron has helped the staff shop for decorations and other party supplies; he has listened to party plans being made; he has talked about the fact that there will be a party on Halloween………..but now that push comes to shove and the party is actually upon him, he does not want to go. I mean, totally does NOT want to go to the Halloween party.
We understand that Aaron doesn’t handle huge social gatherings very well. All the talking and the noise and the stimulation puts him on overload. We’ve had many, many experiences in the past when he was young and we made him go with us to events……….and sometimes we paid dearly for it with deep frustration and very red faces. But this Paradigm party is different, at least to us, and we can’t believe Aaron doesn’t want to go. It seems that he would enjoy a fun day with the staff and clients that he normally hangs out with anyway. He knows he doesn’t have to dress up. Lots of the clients don’t wear costumes. We tried a costume with Aaron for the Paradigm party a few years ago………a mask that wasn’t tight fitting………but he ended up carrying it around all day, or dropping it on a chair, and not wearing it at all.
Even the promise of movies and fun food and candy doesn’t make Aaron budge. I think a big reason he doesn’t want to go is because he just sees all the excitement and noise and fun that everyone else is having as being very annoying. It’s out of the norm and he doesn’t enjoy it at all. I think he feels like he has to act in a party way that is so out of character for him that he ends up angry and irritated…….and hateful to boot.
Something similar happens here at home on Christmas Eve. We play silly, fun games on Christmas Eve as a family. We always make sure to include Aaron, but he always goes up to his room after hanging around for a short time. The one game that he stays around the longest for is Christmas Bingo. We have a big basket full of small, wrapped gifts………and the winner of each round gets to take one. What could be more fun than that? The thing is, we’re all laughing and talking and being silly…….except for Aaron. Gary calls out the moves, and he is also being rather loud to be heard as well as funny just for fun……….and Aaron ends up getting grouchier and grouchier by the minute. He sees nothing fun about this mess. Even the gifts are hardly able to hold him at the table……but he wants so much to stay. However, he invariably becomes rude and offensive, putting us all on edge and making us hope that soon he will excuse himself. When he gathers up his gifts that he won and heads up the stairs, we breathe sighs of relief and then sometimes feel guilty for doing so. Such is party life with Aaron.
This morning Aaron was up early again, as he has been now for a few weeks. He’s usually happy, though, so I’m not complaining. Except this morning he went from happy to being a little edgy about the Halloween party tomorrow. It didn’t take him long to mention the dreaded party. I was trying to lighten the mood by doing a little joking, but Aaron was becoming a little riled. Finally I told him that I was just trying to have fun, and he replied, “You’re not making ME have fun!”
Well, no, I realize that I’m not making you have fun, Aaron.
“And Mom, I don’t want to go to the Halloween party!” he continued. He was on this one track and not about to take a detour off of it. I tried several times to get Aaron to explain why he didn’t want to go to the party. “Aaron, tell me WHY you don’t want to go to the party. I know you don’t want to go, but explain WHY,” I would say.
“I don’t want to go,” he replied abruptly. “There! I explained it!!”
No, Aaron, you didn’t explain it at all………but I got no farther than “I don’t want to go!”
I opened our newspaper to give Aaron his comics to read. I eventually leaned over the table to look at a few pictures of some local well-known people in their thrift shop Halloween costumes………and Aaron saw me. Saw me looking at HALLOWEEN costumes!
“Miss Mean Lady!” he said to me. “You’re looking at those Halloween costumes, making me go!! I say FORCING!!”
So this Miss Mean Lady assured Aaron that I had no such intention as I folded up the paper and got my day underway with a laugh at Aaron’s absurd statement……and his title for Mom at the moment. Miss Mean Lady, indeed. How dare I make my son go to a PARTY, of all things? Aaron has no idea how funny that is because in his world, a party is usually anything but fun. I don’t get it…….no one else gets it……….but yet we do, because we know that Aaron’s perceptions are not at all ours. Somehow we understand, even though we can’t relate. We’ve known Aaron long enough to know that it’s futile to try to force this issue, as he said……..”You’re not making ME have fun!”
We’ll see, but I have a feeling I’ll have company tomorrow. He’ll be happy and relieved to not be at the party, of all things.
And I may be the one saying, “You’re not making ME have fun, Aaron!”