I had some nice quiet time as I sat on the couch beside our newly decorated Christmas tree this morning. I love the early morning quietness, the soft shiny lights on the tree, and my cups of coffee. Time to think, to remember, and to pray.
Then I heard Aaron getting out of bed.
So the mood changes. Now it’s time to think of how to deal with whatever mood he has; to remember to be understanding and patient; and to pray for that understanding and patience when I feel it slipping away.
Aaron was sick yesterday with a stomach virus. He threw up multiple times, but by last night was doing well enough to keep down some applesauce; watch part of the latest movie in which he is totally engrossed; and play a game of Skip-Bo…..beating me, by the way, which made him feel even better.
As he came down the stairs and into the kitchen this morning, I asked him how he was feeling.
“Fine,” he flatly answered. “Can I have my three cups of coffee now?”
He always includes the number of cups when he asks for his coffee, just in case Mom has forgotten the all-important fact that he always has and always will drink THREE cups of coffee in the morning.
I then asked him if he wanted to sit for a few minutes by the Christmas tree with me…..and would he also want to drink a cup of coffee as we sat sweetly enjoying the tree. He informed me, rather reluctantly, that he would sit by the tree but that he did NOT want a cup of coffee to drink there.
“I want my three cups of coffee in my room,” he informed his ignorant Mom. Doesn’t she know that coffee, THREE cups of coffee, is only to be gulped down in his room?
We sat down on the couch, me with my cup of coffee and Aaron with his subtle exasperation that Mom would even suggest that he also have a cup of coffee by the tree. He was quiet for a minute but of course it wasn’t long before he began with his usual, “Mom?”
I waited. He says this so often, but he doesn’t really have a plan of what is to follow the familiar, “Mom?” I waited some more. “Mom? Uh……” So now he was trying to decide what to say, because all this business of sitting sweetly…..and quietly……by the Christmas tree is pretty strange.
I would love to have heard Aaron say, “Mom? Do you know why I act so hatefully sometimes at Paradigm?” Having such a heart to heart with Aaron would have been the best gift ever for me!
But instead, it was “Mom? Have you seen pictures of Transformers Revenge of the Fallen on the internet?” He didn’t even notice my resignation or how I tried to muster a little enthusiasm in order to act even remotely interested in Transformers Revenge of the Fallen. I told him that I didn’t know if I had seen pictures of Transformers Revenge of the Fallen on the internet, because all of these games and these movies and these pictures just jumble together into one blob of sameness for me. I didn’t tell him that part about a blob of sameness, though, for fear that he would want to talk about The Blob movie that he and I watched a few weeks ago. That’s not what I wanted to remember on this morning beside the pretty Christmas tree.
Aaron then got up and went up the stairs, monkey style like he does, and soon returned with his Transformers Revenge of the Fallen guide book. He knew just where to open it in order to show me Demolisher…..the bad guy, I found out after asking because that’s something else I can never remember…..and Bumble Bee and Optimus Prime…..both good guys…..who came in and saved the day. Aaron was happy to be talking to Mom about these important matters. He would not have been happy to talk to Mom about such unimportant matters as his behaviors and motives for such.
Aaron has had some rough days at Paradigm in the last few weeks. Not every day, but many days he exhibits anger and aggression there. It’s like he becomes The Incredible Hulk when he walks in the door. Gary and I try to get to the bottom of it, but to no avail. He doesn’t act like that at home. He has issues at home, certainly, but not to the extent seen at his day group. It’s discouraging and embarrassing and very frustrating to Gary and me. If only Aaron would talk about it on a heart level, but even Aaron doesn’t really know why he reacts the way he does. These autism behaviors are like that. Unexplainable…..spontaneous……disruptive……sometimes hurtful.
This past Monday, Aaron was in a mood when he woke up. It was because of the bad day he had at Paradigm on the day before Thanksgiving. That dark cloud was still hanging over his head. We worked through his issues on Monday and he decided to go to Paradigm. On the way there, he was very happy to stop with me at Wal-Mart. I hoped that Aaron would let me pick something up there for him to eat for lunch at Paradigm, but for some reason Aaron usually refuses to take food to Paradigm. When he told me that he was eating sandwiches offered to him by others, I became so frustrated. I tried to reason with him, but he wouldn’t budge. Finally, with a degree of humor, I told him that I wanted to just resign from my Mom position. I was tired, so just give me the letter of resignation and let me sign it!
Aaron turned and looked at me, and then started laughing…..thankfully. It was one of those moments when I wished I hadn’t said those words, even in jest, so I was thankful that he saw the humor.
“You can’t resign from being my mom,” he slowly said. “You’ll always be my mom.”
“Yes, Aaron, I’ll always be your mom,” I replied. But some days…..
So last night, after he had been sick all day, I watched him getting his snake and frog and skunk positioned just right in his bed. I watched him get his covers the way he wants them. I watched him write down his time to bed in his bedtime log book. I kept my distance. No hugging because of germs, I told him. He just stood and looked at me, then turned to get in bed with no usual goodnight hug.
“Mom? Are you gonna take care of me if I did throw up during the night?” he asked.
There went the tug on my heart as I assured him that I would take care of him.
“So, like, if I throw up you’ll wash my face?” he hopefully asked.
Yes, dear Aaron. I’ll wash your face. I’ll look at pictures of Transformers Revenge of the Fallen. I’ll see that you have THREE cups of coffee in your room. I’ll see you through the rough days.
And I’ll tear up those resignation papers. Because I do love you, no matter what. And I’ll always be Mom.