On our way to Aaron’s day group this morning, we started listening to Aaron’s current music choice – The Best of Alabama. Aaron LOVES listening to music while we drive, unless he’s talking non-stop…which means he will stop the CD, say his piece, start the CD, stop the CD to say more, start the CD, stop it again.
You get the idea.
He will often, after those stops and starts, decide to push the button that takes the CD back to the beginning of the song.
“I couldn’t hear it, Mom. You were talking,” he explains.
And Aaron doesn’t seem to notice at all my long sigh or my rolling eyes. His eyes are staring straight ahead out the front windshield as he is absorbed in the song. If the song is one of his very favorites, he will work his finger magic – rubbing his hands together and doing his unique finger work, sometimes very briskly and with a huge smile on his face. Other times he is slow and methodical. Here’s a video:
In the van, he usually holds his hands up high enough for people driving beside us to see his hands. He honestly looks like a mad scientist hatching a new experiment. I wonder what the other car occupants think as they see Aaron.
I wonder what lots of people think as they see Aaron.
I know what I think. Well, actually, my thoughts depend on many things. But on a normal day…normal for us, that is…I think that Aaron is pretty amazing and often very funny.
Autism is like that. We have levels of amazement mixed with levels of laughter thrown in with levels of frustration.
Aaron is the constant. He is the reason for these levels that we experience.
Our constant…Gary and me…must be God and each other as we handle the other constant – Aaron.
So back to the Alabama music. The first song was “Gone Country.” Aaron was his usual excited self as he did his hand and finger thing while we drove down the road.
“He’s gone country,” Jackson sang, “look at them boots. He’s gone country, back to his roots. He’s gone country,…”
Finally, Aaron said with some exasperation, “He keeps mentioning it!!”
Aaron, of course, was paying attention to each word and those repeated words were getting on his nerves!
Now this is particularly funny to me because if there is anyone on planet earth who keeps “mentioning it,” it would be Aaron.
For instance, just after Aaron observed the repetition in Jackson’s song, we passed a little motel.
“That’s a motel,” Aaron flatly said. I knew exactly where he was going with this because Aaron has observed that there are motels, but there are also hotels. He has talked hotel and motel into the ground, but he can’t resist the urge to keep “mentioning it.” We have looked up the definitions of motel and hotel, too. Anything to explain it to Aaron, trust me.
I mean, who would even notice that?
Aaron would…and he did.
“There’s another motel,” he continued as we passed one.
“There’s a hotel,” he then said seconds later.
And a couple miles down the road, I heard him soberly say, “Inn.”
Yes, we drove by an inn. Great! Now we have a new word in the mix!
Again, he didn’t notice me shaking my head.
There are times that Aaron does notice the messages that our bodies are sending. Those times usually occur when Aaron is angry or on the verge of anger. And often what he thinks he sees is nothing that we have done on purpose. I probably see this more in the mornings than any other time. That’s because if Aaron wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, he is hyper vigilant and sensitive to every word and every movement that comes from me. I can be as flat in my reactions as possible, but invariably something will catch Aaron’s eye.
I saw this one morning when Aaron trudged into the kitchen, instantly saying that he was tired and that he didn’t want to go to Paradigm. My affect was unemotional as I told him I was sorry, and then proceeded to get his coffee. I have no idea what I did, but Aaron saw something.
“You make weird hand signals,” he commented.
And I knew that I needed to just go about my business, not responding or arguing or asking for an explanation.
I especially knew it later when in his bedroom Aaron got in one more parting shot as I walked away.
“Weird hand signals lady!” he said with more energy.
Talk about “mentioning it!” Aaron won’t let these issues go easily, but if I comment it’s like throwing gasoline on a fire. He drank his coffee while I got ready, and later he was fine. No more mention of my weird hand signals.
And trust me, the irony was not lost on me as we drove to Paradigm later and he rubbed his hands together with delight during a favorite song.
Weird hand signals, huh?
Aaron wanted to stay home one day this week. He was tired after some intestinal issues the day before, but still he could have gone. I didn’t push it, though, but he knew I wasn’t happy about it.
“You’re being quiet toward me,” he observed.
It’s good for him to know that…good for him to see the effect that HE has on us…and good for him to verbalize it.
The next day, he did go to Paradigm but he wasn’t very happy again first thing in the morning. As he wearily talked to me in the kitchen, and I responded, he was eyeing me carefully through his tired eyes.
“Mom!” he blurted out. “Stop doing things with your funny eyes!!”
I had to hide my funny eyes and face at that one. I was thankful that he walked away so that I could at least smile largely.
A trip to Dillon’s on our way to Paradigm that morning cheered him up tremendously. Talk about things to notice and things to mention! Dillon’s is full of possibilities.
And did he ever find a big one! As I checked out his pack of gum he found, he had walked away…and soon I heard this.
“MOM!! Can I put this in my bedroom??!!”
Everyone else turned with me to see Aaron carrying this huge thing.
Others smiled and laughed with me, little children were looking up with wonder at loud Aaron holding this large spider, and the screen behind Aaron said, “Monitoring in Progress.”
As if seeing this in person isn’t enough, we were also on the monitor screen!
So I paid for his gum, walked back to the Halloween shelf with Aaron, and together we also looked at all the varieties of spider skeletons, dinosaur skeletons, bird skeletons, and on and on…with lots of laughter mixed in!
Speaking of “mentioning it,” Aaron told Gary all about it and our next door neighbor and the boys across the street. He talked and talked about it during the evening.
Aaron thinks it’s ok for him to keep “mentioning it,” whatever “it” is at the moment. Over and over and over and over, until Gary and I have glazed eyes and tired ears.
But have I mentioned that Aaron sure can make us laugh and sure can make us see a side of life that we would otherwise miss?
THAT is worth mentioning over and over and over and over.
P.S. By the way, the phrase “gone country” occurs 21 times in Alan Jackson’s song. I know because I came home, looked it up, and counted it.
You’re welcome, Aaron.
Or should I say, “Thank you, Aaron!” 😊