My writing about life with Aaron has taken a back seat lately. Actually, more like the back car on a very long train. Traveling over Thanksgiving and then returning to the mad rush of Christmas preparations have certainly been major factors. But there’s more to it than that.
I feel overshadowed. Living under a dark cloud of Aaron issues. Increased seizures…..medicine decisions……doctor visits. But even heavier than those concerns are the disruptions caused by his behaviors, which honestly have at times been far from nice.
Autism……family therapist…..psychiatrist……investigating alternative medical helps…….phone calls……meetings. It can get overwhelming sometimes. Keeping our cool can also be next to impossible, sometimes as impossible as understanding what makes Aaron tick. But we must understand that Aaron operates with a very unique mindset, without most of the filters that others have, and that he is constantly bombarded with sounds and ideas and stimuli that you and I never have to handle. His day group is a perfect breeding ground for noises and irritants and unusual people that can aggravate him quickly. We rarely see the behaviors at home that they see there. It can get messy.
Today I saw the side of Aaron that I wish he showed every day. It’s there…..just sometimes not seen as vividly as I saw today. Yeah, he got mad at a game this morning before we left for his dentist appointment. But he and I had a good discussion about it as we drove to the dentist’s office, where he also relished discussing his angry experience with the office staff, and with anyone else who had ears. He has no shame…..really.
As we left the dentist’s office, he gladly grabbed a cookie that was offered to him by the staff. And Tootsie Rolls that were in a bowl. Did he ever take Tootsie Rolls! I had no idea.
He ate one or two in the car on the way to Pizza Hut for lunch. The Pizza Hut buffet, heaven on earth for Aaron. All You Can Eat…..anything…..is heaven on earth to Aaron.
As we left Pizza Hut, paying for our All You Can Eat buffet……where Aaron really didn’t get to eat all he could eat because Mom stopped him way too soon……
Anyway, as we left and were paying at the register, Aaron pulled out yet another Tootsie Roll from his pocket. “Here,” he said to the smiling lady behind the counter. She was smiling because Aaron had tried to hide from me while I was in the bathroom. He was standing near the exit doors, peeking around the edge of the wall, grinning from ear to ear and then laughing loudly when I saw him. All of this in full sight of a banquet room full of people who were supposed to be listening to a speaker, but who were instead looking at Aaron and me with grins on their faces. Story of my life.
So Aaron pulled out the Tootsie Roll, handing it to the now laughing employee, and said, “Here. Because I liked the food today.”
When does he never like the food today?
But she was so happy to get his Tootsie Roll! She took it and thanked him, telling him that she loved Tootsie Rolls. Aaron was super pleased at her reaction.
“Look!!” he loudly said. “See how many I got at the dentist?!”
Oh dear. He pulled out a whole fist full of Tootsie Rolls. All I could think about was the fact that the ladies in the dentist’s office probably saw him take that stash while my back was turned to Aaron. When will I learn to never turn my back on Aaron when there are cookies or Tootsie Rolls involved?!
I gave him the “Don’t Be a Tootsie Roll Pig” lecture on our way to TJ Maxx, while he unwrapped Tootsie Rolls and enjoyed his free dessert. He offered me one and I accepted, feeling like a hypocrite. I stopped the lecture. Shouldn’t talk with my mouth full.
We walked into TJ Maxx, where I told him that I was looking for a gift for Nora. Nora is my little elderly friend that I take out once a week. She was our neighbor for 15 years before moving to assisted living. Aaron knows Nora. Sometimes he’s been not so nice to her, but other times he’s tolerable. Today he surprised me.
“Mom!! I want to get Nora a Christmas gift!” he exclaimed. “Here!! I want to get her……this!!” And he grabbed the first thing he spied, a Christmas candle holder that I knew Nora wouldn’t need or want.
Aaron’s desire to get Nora a gift just made me very happy, so I told him that we would look for something. We were browsing in the perfume section when I heard Aaron talking to someone.
“Here!” he was saying. I looked over to see him offering the employee manning the dressing room……you guessed it……a Tootsie Roll!!
This young lady looked a little uncomfortable as big Aaron held a Tootsie Roll out to her. At first she declined his offer, but then for some reason she said yes. She looked at me with a smile and at Aaron with a smile as she accepted the Tootsie Roll. And Aaron laughed with delight as he bent over and rubbed his hands together, oblivious to shoppers who were looking and this new friend whose mind was full of questions, I’m sure.
It was really very, very sweet. Sometimes in these moments it’s tempting for me to be too embarrassed to enjoy what just happened. Today, though, I really relished what Aaron was doing. I loved it!! I loved how happy it made him to share with strangers. And how happy these strangers were to have received such a spontaneous little gift from unusual Aaron.
Aaron had not forgotten that he wanted to buy a gift for Nora. We looked here and we looked there, and finally I saw a perfect box of chocolates.
“YES!!” Aaron said when I showed him the box. “Let’s get that!”
Later, at supper, Aaron had a thought.
“Mom? Can Nora eat that chocolate?”
I told him she could…..that she loves chocolates.
“But does she have fake teeth?!”
I told him she does not have fake teeth as I tried not to laugh.
“Good!” he answered. “I thought she might have fake teeth and couldn’t eat it.”
Aaron wants to give the gift of chocolates to Nora, in person. I am quite sure that he will ask her if she has fake teeth. She still hasn’t forgotten how he once said that she was old.
See what I mean? No filters…..no shame.
But Aaron has a big heart.
Here. Have another Tootsie Roll.
I need to give the dentist a bag of Tootsie Rolls at my next visit.