Gary and I returned home last Monday after being gone for a week of vacation. That’s a long time to leave Aaron and our Great Dane, Jackson, with caregivers. Aaron loves the times that we leave because he gets to have others here with him, which means a change of pace for him. He gets to eat out more, which he doesn’t need but which he does love. He has someone to watch movies with him at home from his movie collection or a movie that they rent. He and his caregivers might go on walks or go shopping……just normal things, really, but to Aaron they are more fun when shared with someone different.
More fun up to a point…..and I think Aaron reached that point on Friday, and again on Monday at his day group. He acted out a lot, being verbal and very angry. Gary and I were actually dreading coming home, thinking we would have a rude awakening after such a wonderful time with family and with each other. But Aaron was very happy to see us. He called us several times every day that we were gone, but having us home was even better.
How did he show that it was better? Well, first of all, he gave us hugs!! That was awesome! And not just one hug, but several hugs spread out over the evening. He was affectionate, on his terms, and it was sweet to experience.
He also followed us all around, talking and talking. He had happy talk of his time with Katie and then with Steven over the weekend. He talked about what he ate, and where they went, and the movies they watched, and everything in between. He followed us all over the house, and then followed us outside when we went to check the garden. The dirt was a little soft from the recent rains, but not muddy, so I walked in to take a look at everything.
Of course, Aaron followed, never missing a beat in his monologue. His movie of the moment was The Blob, so most of what he said was Blob related. He kept asking me questions about the Blob for which I had no answers, like exactly what is the Blob. Finally he decided to analyze the Blob himself.
“The Blob is just the size of water,” he said…..and I agreed without telling him that water doesn’t really have a size. Instead I relished the way that Aaron sees the world, even the Blob. We were both happy to move on to other things as we walked around the garden and I showed him some beans, as well as some zucchini and summer squash. Aaron noticed the soft soil, though, as he notices everything. “Mom, this sand is sinkable!” he exclaimed as he walked around.
He wasn’t as chipper as the evening wore on. It takes awhile to get things back to normal when you’ve been gone that long, and Aaron was ready for normal right then. I had asked Aaron several questions about different matters, knowing that we have to be slow and careful with our questioning. Finally, as we were getting his room ready for him to go to bed, I remembered that I needed to get the monitor out of Andrew’s room where Steven had stayed. At first I didn’t see it on the other side of the bed, so without thinking I asked Aaron where the monitor was.
“I hate today!” he angrily answered. “Things have been going on like, ‘Where’s your monitor?!!’”
I instantly knew that if Aaron was able to sit down and have a heart-to-heart with us, he would have said, “Mom and Dad, I’m really tired of you guys being gone. I’m tired of things being so different and out of place.”
But no, all Aaron could do was erupt and say what he did………and I was thankful that right then I found the monitor and was able to be calm, so that Aaron could calm down. He followed me to my bedroom even after we had successfully gone through his nighttime ritual……..blinds closed, blanket on the bed just right, his fish lamp turned off, the bright digital weather station clock dimmed, clothes for tomorrow set out, overhead light turned off, bedside lamp turned on……
But yet he followed me, talking, and asking me to come back to his room. I was tired. Aaron didn’t care. I walked into his room, telling him I was going to bed, but he said, “Wait!! I haven’t told you this. I was reading in my Handy History Answer Book about writing. First there were hieroglyphics, papyrus, then Guttenburg……and what else? Chinese! There was Chinese paper!”
I really didn’t care one whit about any of this writing or paper business at 10:30 on the night we had just returned from vacation. I really knew I wouldn’t care one whit about hieroglyphics or papyrus on any other night, either. But wanting to make Aaron feel like what he said was important and that I was listening, I commented, “The Chinese also made the first firecrackers.”
He looked blandly at me and then flatly said, “I knew that.”
And so much for that, I thought.
Our week of re-entry into our real life with Aaron has had its ups and downs for sure. Aaron has changed a lot over the past year. He’s not always fun, funny Aaron. He never has always been fun or funny, but he’s more volatile now than he used to be. He has more anger now than he used to have. Age? Medicines? Influences? We don’t really know.
Gary and I have taken three trips recently, and it’s been so nice on several levels. We realize how refreshing it is to get away……to be a couple……to have freedom to enjoy what we want to do……to enjoy our other children without Aaron interruptions. Does that sound awful?
I watched Aaron walking in front of me the other morning as we left Dillon’s. There went Aaron, his bag of cheddar pasta salad and his croissants in hand. He was large and in charge, so typical of him. I realize what a large part he plays in Gary’s and my life. Some positive…..some negative.
And I read an article this week, written by a dear mother of a child with special needs. Her child, a girl, is still young and is very sweet………or else this mother chose on this day to just write about the sweet. After reading that article, I wanted that little girl to come live with me! This mother was talking about never wanting her daughter to leave……never wanting to be without that sweet little girl.
I look at Aaron, like this evening on another trip to Dillon’s. His passing gas noises as we checked out, his incessant loud talking, his whistles as we leave the store………where he tells me once again that at least he wasn’t making the farting noises. How many times have I heard that? And how many times has he heard me tell him to stop? I see people look at Aaron, and it’s not like looking at a sweet little special needs girl who smiles at them and makes them feel warm all over. Large Aaron is looked at with curiosity, to say the least…….especially when that gassy noise passes his lips………..at least I hope people know it came from his lips.
Oh well. My mixed emotions are normal, I know. I love Aaron and I know that he is ours to raise. Ups and downs, good and bad, demanding and pleasing……it’s all part of this life. God gives grace, and I know He will give direction to Gary and I as we face Aaron’s future, and ours.
And if I had not had Aaron with me tonight, after I turned down his request to go to Sonic, I would not have heard him say, “So why did you say that Sonic is more fatfull?”
He didn’t see me smile, and he didn’t know how delightful yet another saying of his was to me. Just like he doesn’t see my heart and know how much I love him…..even when I don’t exactly like him.
And here’s what he said last night as I walked into his room just before bed. He was finishing a movie, and those of you who know Aaron know that Aaron finishes a movie by watching the credits and everything else that scrolls down that screen….to the very bitter end, when the screen is either dark or goes back to the home screen. Every. Single. Word. He watches it.
“That was a short movie at the ending,” he said.
“The movie was short?” I asked for clarification.
“No,” he answered. “The rest was long. Just the ending was short.”
And I’m left to ponder what he just said, to realize its brilliance in an autistic kind of way, and to laugh…….behind his back, of course.
See what I would miss if not for Aaron?