I wrote earlier about Aaron’s difficult day on Monday, and about his desire to take a “sorry card” to his friend whom he had hurt. ( Another “Sorry Card”) Time now for a quick update.
I walked into Aaron’s room on Tuesday morning, carrying his cups of coffee and finding him sitting on the edge of his bed. He was writing in his log book the precise time that he was getting out of bed, and still trying to fully awaken. I know not to talk a lot to Aaron first thing in the morning. He needs time to process his new day, time to drink his coffee, time to shower…..and I need time to evaluate his mood. So I said a simple good morning as I put his coffee on the bookshelf beside his desk. He never even looked at me, which is typical.
But he did speak.
“I don’t want to go today,” he softly said. “I have a headache.”
I never know if he really has a headache, or if he’s just trying to get fully awake. I don’t try to talk him OUT of having a headache, and neither do I encourage him to indulge his headache.
“I’m sorry,” I said as I walked out of his room. “I’m getting in the shower now.”
“I don’t want to go today,” he repeated.
“But what about the “sorry card” and Burger King coupon for J, and the pillow for S, and the green pepper for Barb?” I asked.
He was silent.
I went on about my morning. I heard him taking a shower and then later heard him on his computer, yelling happily…..which is always a good sign that his outlook has brightened.
I went to his room for his glasses so that I could clean them before we left for Paradigm. There lay the pillow for S, and the “sorry card” for J, near his empty coffee cups.
“I’m going, Mom,” he said. He even sounded cheery, and I was very relieved.
We walked out the door later, Aaron carrying a bag in which we had placed the pillow and the green pepper. His “sorry card” for J, along with the Burger King coupon, were in a plain envelope and placed in the bag as well.
Aaron went into Paradigm with no hesitation when I dropped him off at the curb. I prayed as I drove away, that Aaron would be happy and kind and would actually give his gifts to his friends…..especially the “sorry card” to J, for that was most important.
That afternoon my phone rang. The caller ID displayed Barb’s name, and my heart dropped a little. Sometimes Aaron calls me using Barb’s phone, and some of those times it’s because he’s unhappy. Sometimes Barb calls me, though rarely, but usually it’s because Aaron is having a really rough day. Sometimes Aaron also calls just to loudly laugh and tell me how much fun he is having. Sometimes answering that phone is like playing Russian Roulette. I just don’t know what pressing that answer button will bring.
“MOM!!!!” Aaron yelled into the phone. And I immediately knew that he sounded like all was well. “I wanted to tell you something!!”
“OK,” I simply answered, hoping for the best.
“I’ve been having a good day!” he continued.
“That’s wonderful!” I replied. “Did you give J the “sorry card” and the coupon?”
“YES!!!” he said. “WAIT, MOM!!! WAIT!!!!” he eagerly said.
Now this always means that Aaron is getting ready to hand the phone off to someone else. Often it’s Barb, and I’ll hear Aaron say to her, “My mom wants to tell you something!” And Barb knows full well that I didn’t say I wanted to tell her something, so she gets on the phone laughing and she hears me laughing, and we talk for a minute while Aaron – I’m quite sure – is standing nearby rubbing his hands together furiously.
So on this day I was prepared to once again hear Barb’s voice, but it wasn’t. I heard a young man’s voice haltingly saying hello to me. He was a little hard to understand, but I figured he was J.
“Is this J?” I asked him. He said yes.
“Thank you for the card and the coupon,” he said.
“You’re very welcome, J,” I told him. “I’m sorry that Aaron hit you.”
“Oh, it’s OK,” he replied. And he said something else about the coupon. I could tell he was very happy with that, and with the “sorry card,” too.
He handed the phone back to Aaron, who told me with great exuberance that he had also given the pillow to S and the green pepper to Barb. We soon hung up, with me feeling very happy for Aaron.
As we drove home that afternoon from Paradigm, we talked about how much it meant to J to get the card and especially the coupon. We talked about how S smiled when Aaron gave her the pillow. We talked about how Barb thanked him for the green pepper.
And we especially talked about how happy it made Aaron when he was kind to his friends……how much better he felt on this drive home because of being nice.
These are simple, elementary truths that seem so hard for him to retain. Aaron wants to be nice. He really does. But his impulses and his lack of filters sometimes drive his “nice” desires out of his brain quickly as he responds to the moment.
The next morning, Wednesday, Aaron wanted me to go inside Paradigm when I dropped him off. He wanted me to talk to S about the pillow he had given her. Sometimes my to-do list makes it hard for me to agree to anything extra, but something told me that I should do this for Aaron. So I parked the van and we both got out, walking inside his day group together.
Aaron immediately strode over to the wheelchair where S was sitting, and I followed.
“S!!!!” Aaron said, rubbing his hands together. “Here’s my mom!!!!”
I felt like I was Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune. “Here’s Vanna White and Pat Sajak!!!!!”
I walked around to where S could see me, and I patted her arm as I told her hello and asked how she’s doing. S always says that she is fine, as she is all bent over in her chair. She amazes me as she does something else I always see when I am with her……she smiles. A huge, sweet smile.
“Did you like the pillow that Aaron gave you?” I asked her. There was that wonderful smile again as she looked up at me and said a simple, “Yes.” But her smile said it all. It must mean a lot to her, in her limited world, to have friends. I know that Aaron understands that.
One day, when talking to me about his friendship with her, Aaron said to me, “S doesn’t have much friends. Am I her friend?” I told him that he is indeed her friend…..a good friend.
“It makes me think I don’t know what to think,” he answered after some thought.
How sweet! How telling!
Friendships do matter to Aaron, very much. He just doesn’t always know how to make them…..how to maintain them……how to express his feelings to his friends without being loud and rough.
But sometimes he does, like with S. He talks a lot to us about her limitations and he feels empathy for her. So even if he thinks he doesn’t know what to think, the very fact that he IS thinking about these things is very positive to us. We’re thankful that this week turned out so well…..that Aaron hopefully learned some important lessons…..and that those lessons will actually STICK in his brain!!
Because trust me, there are many many days that Gary and I look at each other after an Aaron episode and scratch our heads.
Aaron’s words could easily be our words: It makes us think we don’t know what to think!!!
But I do think that this week has been mostly positive, for me and for Aaron and hopefully for his friends.
It makes me think that we have a very special son, even when he makes me think I don’t know what to think!
And that’s just how it is around here.