We all know the famous Browning poem, “How Do I Love Thee?” Well, I have some thoughts about Aaron, but the title would be “How Do I Embarrass Thee?” As in, how does Aaron embarrass me? Being a southern mama, I would add, “Bless his heart.” And you can take that any way you want. We southern girls certainly know how to do that.
You know I love Aaron with all of my heart.
You know I love Aaron, every part.
But oh, how embarrassing he can be.
So today I have a story of three.
OK, I’m no Browning……bless my heart.
Anyway, today was dental cleaning day for Aaron, so we took off this morning for our beautiful drive north through the country. We drove up 135th street to 53rd, for you local folk, as we headed to the town of Maize and to our dentist’s office there. Aaron was enjoying his day off as we drove by cows and horses and goats and one field of critters that I couldn’t identify. He was really loving the oldies CD that we listened to, and hearing the fact that these were songs from my high school days.
Aaron didn’t have time to enjoy the waiting room where he likes to talk to Lee, the receptionist. He was immediately called back for his cleaning. I had urged him to be patient and polite, character traits that run short for him sometimes in the dentist’s chair. And when he walked out about 40 minutes later, I heard him before I saw him.
“Mom!” he said. I could tell just from the sound of his voice that he was exasperated. “Let’s go now!” he demanded as he walked into the waiting room. I could tell from the wild look in his eyes that he was upset. Oh dear. So as I checked out and made his new appointment, the hygienist was able to whisper that he was more upset than usual today. He even told her to shut up at one point…..or maybe more than one point. He was just rude and belligerent to her. He doesn’t like the cleanings…..he doesn’t like the feel of it and the time it takes……and he doesn’t like being told over and over to hold his mouth open and to loosen his steel-like lower lip. And of all things, we go every two months to the dentist for cleanings because of how Aaron doesn’t brush well enough.
I was embarrassed. I know the staff there understands as best they can, but it’s hard to be the mom at that moment….no matter how old my “child” is. I know that I will always be dealing with these red-faced moments, and I know there is a legitimate reason why, but it’s still just….embarrassing. As Aaron and I drove away, I gave him a lecture. He doesn’t do lectures, I know, but I still try. I filled my lecture with talk and examples and reasonable comments to which I felt he could relate. I was still somewhat lecturing as we walked into Menards for a quick stop. As we walked up the long middle aisle, Aaron was lagging behind. Finally he said, “Mom! You keep talking about mad things!”
So I knew it was time to stop. Enough talking about mad things. What’s done was done, and I hoped that some of what happened and what I said had made an impression on Aaron. Yet Aaron lives in the moment, so permanent change is doubtful. The next moment in the dentist’s chair may still cause frustration for Aaron. Anyway, the dentist was my first story of embarrassment today.
Number two – Pizza Hut. Aaron and I love the Pizza Hut not far from the dentist’s office. It’s fairly new and it has a nice lunch buffet. Aaron loves anywhere that has an all-you-can-eat buffet, because all-you-can-eat is a meal made in heaven for Aaron. He does get my money’s worth! But buffets, where Aaron gets up and down, and is in front of people as he does so, can sometimes max out my embarrassment quota. I can understand when he’s awkward and spills the salad bar cheese on the counter. I often go with him in order to help him hold his plate straight and steady. Pizza sliding off his plate onto the floor has taught me that lesson. I can understand and deal with that, too.
But good old Aaron is so happy and relaxed because of the all-you-can eat reality that he will sometimes break out in song. He did that today as he went up to the buffet for what I told him would be his last time. He was remembering the last song we heard on the oldies CD as we parked outside. I had stayed in our booth near the buffet and just watched him as he put two more pieces of pizza on his plate, and as many breadsticks as would fit. Then suddenly he broke out into, “Oh, there’s magic….” Several times, as I watched. And then some passing gas noises. I just sat there and savored the moment. The table of construction guys must have, as well. I didn’t look.
Aaron sat down and started talking, loudly, so I did the “Ssshhhh” thing for the umpteenth time. “It’s always, sshhhh!” he complained to me. And I told him it’s because he’s always NOT “ssshhhhing” when he should be “ssshhhhing!” I looked down for a few seconds and looked up to find him with both arms straight up in the air, flashing the peace sign with a look of purpose on his face.
“Aaron, arms down,” I said with resignation. At least he was quiet. Peace. Until we were leaving. I had paid the bill, and as I turned to leave, Aaron turned back to the buffet…..where he reached in and grabbed one more bread stick with his FINGERS!!!! He had me talking about mad things again as I hurried him out the door.
Number three place of embarrassment – Great Clips, of course. A new girl cut his hair, and today Aaron talked non-stop to her. He told her about his scraped arm, his day group, robots, aliens, movies, and what he had done that morning. “Going to the dentist is not my thing!” he informed her. And of course, he had to tell her about his room being painted.
“Do you know what happened on Saturday?” he asked her, sort of breathlessly, as if it was a major and unusual event. She told him she didn’t know what happened on Saturday.
“This man came to my house,” he continued. “And he painted my whole wall!” he finished. Like he would paint only part of it? I smiled and the new hairdresser smiled, and everyone there was hearing all of this……aliens, robots, disliked dentist visits, and painted walls. All of it, clearly heard throughout the shop.
Including his parting words to the nice hairdresser as we stood at the counter to pay. “Do you like oldies?” he asked her. “My mom and I are listening to oldies. Mom said those were songs she knew in high school. That’s when Mom was young. She USED to be young.”
The girl politely smiled, not sure of what to say with Aaron’s “USED to be young” mom standing right there. Aaron continued. “Yeah, mom knows those songs. She USED to be young.” So then the very composed, somber older lady in the waiting area burst out laughing. So did I. May as well. And as I herded Aaron toward the door, I told this woman that at least Aaron wasn’t discussing my weight. He’s been known to do that, too.
You know, there is good embarrassment and there is bad embarrassment. Aaron’s behaviors, such as he showed to his hygienist today, are a bad embarrassment that makes me feel frustrated and sometimes humiliated. Aaron’s good embarrassment when he’s singing at the buffet, flashing the peace sign for all to see, or talking about his mom who USED to be young, can still redden my face. But it’s all fun in the way that Aaron makes it funny. He makes us laugh, even as we may try to hide. I can let it ruin my day because of the embarrassment, or I can let it make my day. I can choose to enjoy Aaron, or I can choose to always be frustrated.
Sometimes Aaron needs for me to talk about mad things as I try to help him grow and be appropriate. But many times, I just need to relish the unique person that Aaron is and not let my embarrassment let me miss these special moments with the joy that they can hold.
It’s magic, if I allow it to be.
Reminds me of a song I knew when I USED to be young.