Aaron had an appointment this afternoon with his Epilepsy doctor, and as always on doctor days, he and I went out to eat lunch. Aaron loves these lunch dates, not necessarily because of the company but because of the FOOD. But maybe I’m wrong about that, because when we pulled into the parking lot of Carlos O’Kelly’s and were taking off our seat belts, Aaron said, “I love this day.” That made me smile a huge smile as I asked Aaron why he loves this day. “I love this day with you,” he said.
So OK, my heart was sufficiently melted and I was surprised I could walk into the restaurant. Yet Aaron was already leading the way, so I had no choice but to follow. He beat me into the entrance and was already rolling the little toothpick dispenser around as he gathered up three or four toothpicks…..while the greeters greeted him and Aaron ignored them. The girl who ushered us to our booth smiled broadly, though, and I could tell that she understood and liked Aaron. We moms of special children just know. Aaron was oblivious of any of this. He was just happy to have had the time to get several toothpicks before picky Mom made him stop……and I wondered if he still loved this day with me.
We sat down, and before our understanding greeter could hand us our menus, Aaron was already telling her that he wanted water. Except he always asks if he can have water, as if he needs permission. She and I both told him at the same time that our server would bring water, but Aaron was already opening his menu. He needs lots of time to try to match what he wants to eat with the pictures that are shown. Our greeter also handed us a special menu that was for items that would only be available for the next week. She told us that this menu was for us to keep along with the two regular menus.
Our pleasant server introduced himself as Aaron quickly asked him if he could have water, and soon Aaron and I were looking at our menus. Our water came, but no straws…..and straws are a staple to Aaron. Our server immediately realized his mistake, apologized, and hurried off to bring us straws. “He’s clumsy,” Aaron said. “He forgot our straws!” I was thankful that Aaron didn’t repeat this to our server when he returned to take our order. I handed him our menus when we were through placing our orders, but I forgot the special menu laying off to the side. He asked for it as well, and after I gave it to him, Aaron said that he thought that this menu was ours to take home. I realized then that Aaron had pushed it to the side in order to hide it.
“Why did you think it was ours to take home?” I asked.
“Because that girl told us to keep it,” Aaron patiently replied.
As so often happens, statements that often slip right past me certainly don’t slip past Aaron. Literal Aaron.
We munched on chips and salsa, and when Aaron’s salad came he dug right in to that…..only pausing to grab another chip or two here and there because he didn’t want me to eat them all. He always keeps a close eye on the chip bowl when we eat at Carlos O’Kelly’s. Soon our meals came, and when the plates were in front of us I took a bite of my enchilada. Aaron looked at me eye to eye and said, “Are we gonna pray?” He held his hand across the table for me to hold as we always do…..and my heart melted again. How could I forget to ask the blessing? But Aaron remembered….and I’m almost glad that I forgot because it showed me that Aaron remembers! He remembers these important lessons…even when silly Mom doesn’t!
Aaron watched the servers as we ate, and he listened as I thanked our server for filling Aaron’s glass with water or bringing us extra napkins. “We’re nice to the staff, right?” he asked. I agreed that we should be nice to the staff…..the servers. “It’s hard to be staff,” Aaron continued. He knows that sometimes people aren’t kind to servers and this bothers him. I remembered the last time that we ate here. One of the servers dropped a napkin, and Aaron looked at her. “Hey!” he said. “You spilled your napkin.” It was funny and sweet, and I was glad that she laughed and that she thanked Aaron for pointing out her napkin that spilled.
Soon we saw a group of servers singing Happy Birthday to a diner. Aaron, who doesn’t like having Happy Birthday sung to him….or to anyone, really…..did not care for this display of silliness. “Oh my word!” he said. “Tell those people to shut up. We’re trying to eat!” So much for being kind! I was very thankful that we had an end booth, and that for once Aaron spoke rather softly.
As we finished eating, our server asked if we would like dessert. I declined, saying that we were full, but Aaron didn’t want to let that idea slip away. Dessert sounded very good to him today. “Why didn’t you order dessert?” he asked. I told him that we didn’t need dessert, and besides, we were full. He wasn’t convinced, I could tell.
“Are you full?” I asked him.
“Yes,” he truthfully answered, before thinking of the consequences of admitting fullness.
He recovered quickly. “I mean, not TOTALLY full,” he explained.
I laughed….and still said that I did not want dessert.
“But I mean dessert, just for me,” he countered.
Good try, Aaron, but it’s still a no. So we got up from our booth. I headed one way and Aaron headed the other, so I turned to head him off, wondering what he was doing. Aaron saw our server and I saw what Aaron was doing.
“BYE!” Aaron said as he waved. It was another sweet moment, and I was so thankful that our server…..our staff, as Aaron says…..told Aaron goodbye.
I like Aaron to walk in front of me when possible in interesting places like restaurants. That’s so I can intercept him when he stops to stare at someone’s food….or pulls the leaves of the plants…..or stops to feel the texture on the walls…..or any number of other unique behaviors. Like how he stopped today to feel a fake cactus on our way out, and comment loudly about its fakeness.
Of course, he immediately stopped at the faithful toothpick dispenser as we passed it before leaving. Out came two more toothpicks as he turned the knob. Our understanding greeter just smiled and I was relieved.
I had told Aaron earlier that we were having chicken for supper. As we left the restaurant, I asked him why he got more toothpicks.
“They’re for the chicken tonight,” he flatly answered.
Of course. I should have known that.
We had to interrupt our fun by going to the doctor and talking about adding a new medicine….and taking away another medicine……and doing a sleep study…..and discussing Aaron’s hand tremor….
But Aaron also had the doctor laughing about how the Rocketeer looks like a grasshopper in his mask…..and how the holes in the ceiling of the exam room were made by paper needles……and many other comments that only Aaron makes.
He had me standing in the corner of the elevator as we left the Epilepsy Center so that I could feel what he feels from that vantage point as the elevator went down. It was just the two of us in the elevator, but I knew that if there were others in there, Aaron would still have insisted that I stand in the corner so that I could enjoy what he enjoys. He bent over and rubbed his hands together in great delight, and we exited the elevator laughing and talking about what we felt.
We went into Best Buy on the way home, and Aaron immediately stopped at the entrance to ask the employee there if they had the Beauty and The Beast DVD….and I so resented how that guy looked at Aaron as if he was a Martian. He needs to ride in an elevator with Aaron, I thought. He needs to look at life through Aaron’s eyes instead of looking at Aaron through his uncaring eyes. He has no idea what he’s missing.
Hey, Aaron! Guess what? I love this day! And you know why?
Because I love this day with you.