We recently renovated Aaron’s bedroom. It’s fun to have newly painted walls and ceiling, new closet doors painted a little darker than the walls, new valence and bedspread, new ceiling fan, the furniture moved to new positions, and new organization to Aaron’s clutter. I bought some really pretty bins that are a tough woven fabric with a bright fabric lined interior. They are a deep gray color and blend in nicely with his light gray walls. One of them fit perfectly in Aaron’s night stand opening. Not only that, but his Handy Answer books fit in that bin perfectly, and even left room for Aaron’s bedtime log book on top. Perfect! I was delighted!
But Aaron…..not so much. He has adjusted to everything in his new room, but there is one area in which he will not budge. You see, I want Aaron’s floor beside his bed to look like this:
Yet Aaron insists on keeping his books that he is reading, as well as his bedtime log book, like this:
I want things one way. However, do or die, Aaron insists on keeping his books in their line beside his bed. On the floor. Not in the nice, orderly bin that I purchased for the purpose of keeping his room and floor neat…….but on the floor. I’ve quit fighting it. We could have the Books on the Floor War for the rest of our natural lives and nothing would change Aaron’s mind. Of this I am certain.
The Books on the Floor War isn’t the only battle we fight. There is also the Is the Plant Real War. I turned around for a split second at his last doctor appointment while in the waiting room, so at the elevator Aaron held up a leaf…..a leaf that he had just pulled off the plant in the doctor’s waiting room.
“Mom!” he excitedly said. “That plant is REAL!”
No kidding, Aaron. And he heard once again the lecture that goes along with the Is the Plant Real War, but I knew my brilliant wartime lecture was falling on deaf ears.
We also have the Grey Spot on the Sock War. I don’t know why Aaron insists on wearing the heel of his sock up on the top of his ankle. I have instructed, demonstrated, assisted, and again lectured…..but to no avail. More often than not, the grey heel is terribly misplaced, but Aaron doesn’t terribly care. Actually, he doesn’t care at all. And he doesn’t understand why I do care.
Then there’s the Take Things Off the Kitchen Counter And Come Show it To Mom War. Does he think I don’t know what’s laying on the kitchen counter? Saturday he came downstairs where I was watching football. He stood right in front of me, holding up a stick of butter that he had just nabbed off the counter as he walked through the kitchen.
“Mom!” he said. “This says salted butter? Then it must be sweet!”
I laughed, and Aaron thought he had won this battle of the Take Things Off the Kitchen Counter and Come Show it To Mom War. So he launched right into the If It’s In My Hand I’ll Let Jackson Sniff It War, and another mom lecture ensued.
Finding humor in the way Aaron thinks and acts is one way that I get by from day to day. He truly makes me laugh a lot, yet there are many times that I really do want certain areas of his life to be more orderly in ways that matter. I wish that Aaron’s reactions could be as disciplined as a picked up floor, for instance, but there are occasions that his emotions become messy and even painful.
Such was the case yesterday. The set-up actually began the day before that, on Wednesday. Aaron woke up for some reason at 5:09, he said. Of course he would be so precise. He went to the bathroom but said he couldn’t go back to sleep, so he went all day with no nap and by that evening was very tired. Then the next morning, yesterday, he was sleeping soundly when I finally had to get him up to get ready for his day.
Waking Aaron up is usually not a good way for him to start his day. He was pretty grouchy before we left for his group, but he buckled down and went. However, on up in the day he had a meltdown with Barb. He was very belligerent with her and vocal. He also broke his watch….again. When he came home later, the first thing he did was to ask me if I had heard what had happened. I hadn’t, but I could tell from his stressed look and his tired eyes that it wasn’t going to be a pretty story.
Aaron also shared it with Gary later as they walked around the yard. I just watched them and thought of poor Gary, handling issues at work all day and then coming home to hear another war story of Aaron’s. Yet it’s what we do as parents….what all parents do….although at our age we did think we’d be done with all this “stuff” that needs our wisdom and patience.
We want Aaron’s life to be neat, with everything in its place, like books in a bin. Aaron had been very happy for a couple weeks, maybe longer, and we were really enjoying the reprieve. But autism and autistic behaviors don’t just disappear into a neat bin beside his bed. I had seen the warning signs and I was right. Aaron hit the proverbial wall and pieces were now scattered all over.
Gary and I helped him pick up those pieces as best we could. So did Barb as she texted me and told me to tell Aaron that she loved him and would be happy to see him tomorrow. “He has had many good days,” she texted, “and tomorrow is a new one.”
She was right. I had to remind Aaron of that fact as he came downstairs this morning with a stormy look on his face, saying he didn’t want to go to Paradigm because of what happened yesterday. We had to work through it this morning, with me being careful not to escalate this angry time into a War of Words. He came out swinging, too, as he realized that I was checking the time of the West Virginia/Oklahoma State football game for tomorrow.
“I vote for Oklahoma!!” he declared…..hoping that he had wounded me. He had no idea of how funny that was to me.
He did go to Paradigm this morning, rather happily, despite these proclamations during his What Words Will Work on Mom War:
“I’m only going because you want me to!”
“I’m only going because you’re making me!”
“I’m only going because I want pizza!”
And when we got to Paradigm, Aaron wanted me to come in and talk to Barb, which I did. Aaron was a little huffy at first. He wouldn’t hug Barb, but shook her hand very properly…..and I smiled. Hopefully he’s been all right today. Hopefully the war for him is over. Hopefully his scattered pieces are back in the bin, neat and orderly, although he’ll always leave a few on the floor where he wants them.
And we leave them there, because some battles in some wars just aren’t worth fighting. It’s part of what makes Aaron unique, challenging, and full of his own way of living in his world.
It’s part of what makes us stay on our knees, trusting God for what we need to fight whatever war may come our way today.