Today Aaron had a dentist appointment to have his teeth cleaned. He was happy about it, not because he likes having his teeth cleaned but because he knows that afterwards it means we hit the Pizza Hut buffet down the road from the dentist’s office. Aaron and I happily walked into Pizza Hut, only to find one very busy server working hard to keep up with a rapidly filling restaurant.
We waited a long time while this poor overworked server was on the phone before she was able to break free. She told us just to go ahead and pick a seat, but asked us first what we would like to drink. Aaron quickly told her that he wanted water WITH lemon…..because Holly, who had just taken care of him during our trip to Houston, put lemon in her water.
“Mom!” Aaron had said to me earlier this morning. “Do you know what Holly puts in her water?” Then he proceeded to tell me how Holly put lemon in her water. “Can I put lemon in my water when we eat at Pizza Hut?” he asked. And I told him that he could.
So when the busy server asked for our drink order before we seated ourselves, Aaron jumped on it and made sure that his water would have a piece of lemon. When we sat down, and our waters came, Aaron said, “Holly squished her lemon and poured the juice out. Will you do that to mine?” So I squished his lemon and he watched me pour the lemon juice out into his water. He was happy.
We walked over to the buffet line, where the salad in the large bowl at the salad bar was nearly gone, and there was no pizza left on the pizza side. Poor busy server! We were able to fix small salads…..Aaron’s with way too much dressing before I could wrangle the dressing ladle from him. Soon we were able to get some pizza, too, and we sat there eating and chatting.
I looked up at one point to see that five Amish young women had come in and were waiting to be seated. With them they had two small children. They were such refreshing and lovely young women, I thought. I watched as others stared at them, and I hoped I wasn’t doing the same. It must be hard sometimes to always stand out as being different. Finally they were shown to the seats right behind Aaron and me. I pretty well knew what would happen when they walked past us.
“Mom,” Aaron said. “They have on hats.”
“Yes,” I answered. “That’s part of their religious beliefs. And don’t stare or point.”
“I was watching her,” he continued. “You’d say I was staring?”
Again I just cautioned Aaron not to boldly stare, so he continued eating. Finally, we got up for one more trip to the buffet, and as Aaron was getting out of his side of the booth his arm knocked over his nearly full glass of water. His water with all the squished out lemon juice went all over the table and down onto my side of the booth. Thankfully I had already stood up, so I didn’t get wet.
Aaron apologized profusely, so I told him it was fine…..and told him not to be so loud…..and he reached his arm up to me. I leaned down as he still sat there and he gave me a big hug. The older man in the booth beside us stared even more than he had already been staring. And as I turned to see what kind of mess we had, I made eye contact with one of the young Amish women. She looked quickly away, but I knew she was watching us and probably wondering. I knew that I felt the way she must often feel.
For the rest of our meal, I sat with Aaron on his dry side of the booth. Our poor harried server never did make it over to clean up the mess, and that was fine. I felt really sorry for her. Besides, this gave Aaron and me a chance to sit close together. He leaned his head on my shoulder, so happy that Mom wasn’t angry and that all was well. I knew he felt so badly about what had happened, but I assured him that it was fine.
He was very happy that I offered him my water, but I took my straw out so he wouldn’t get my cold. He quickly grabbed his straw that was laying on the table in the mess of spilled water, ice, and soggy napkins. He was content as he ate his pizza, not minding that the server never made it over to clean our table. While he ate, he sang songs from Phantom of the Opera…..quietly……and he drank every drop of my water.
I was now facing the Amish women as I sat beside Aaron. One of the young women that was facing me was pregnant. I looked up at one point and our eyes met, and we both smiled at each other. I wondered what she was thinking. I wondered if she wondered about Aaron. Wondered if she wondered what my life is like, just the way I wonder what her life is like.
Aaron and I finally went up to the register to pay. I had to run after Aaron at one point because he walked rapidly over to the buffet. He was just ready to reach in with his bare fingers and grab some bread sticks for the road before I was able to stop him. Oh Aaron! You know better!
Aaron and his messes that he makes! In the short time that we’ve been home from Houston, we’ve had several of those messes to deal with and try to correct. They may be physical……like me on my knees cleaning up certain spills and missed aims, if you know what I mean. Or they may be messes created by his behaviors.
That’s why I was on the phone this morning with Bryan, one of the Paradigm staff that takes Aaron with him to work on houses. Aaron loves working with Bryan, but on Monday Aaron had a meltdown at Paradigm and was mean to Bryan. I wondered what Bryan would say when we talked, but he was amazing. He really loves Aaron. He really understands Aaron, as much as any of us can understand him. And he knows that all he can do…..all any of us can do…..is clean up the mess and move forward.
Sometimes we have to sit in the mess awhile, like Aaron and I today in our watered down booth. Sometimes there are no quick fixes or easy solutions. Aaron sees the mess and the havoc it creates, but it’s important for him to know that he is still loved in the midst of it. He is still cared for despite it all. He felt bad about the water today, and he usually feels badly about the outbursts he has. Yet he can’t always stop it when he’s upset, any more than he could stop the water that spilled so suddenly today.
The damage is done, but I can still sit closely enough for him to put his head on my shoulder, and know that he is forgiven and loved. Believe me, sometimes I want to run to another room….another house….another state! But that’s not the solution, for Aaron or for me.
We stay in it because we are all Aaron has. God gave him to us for a reason, messes and all. And we do love that big, crazy guy.
Spilled water and all.