Aaron was busily preparing his little corner of the world one recent night as we got ready to watch an episode of Dr. Quinn. His typical preparations include his snack or snacks of choice, often placed in a bowl; his drink; his hand towel that is always with him; his blanket that is always over him as if he is a nursing home resident; his Nintendo DS beside him even if not played; his video remote; and his chair and ottoman placed just so.
It’s exhausting, unless you’re Aaron. If you’re Aaron, this is standard procedure and no big deal.
On this particular night, Aaron had chosen his rather new bag of Jolly Ranchers to sit on the end table beside him…the end table that bears the scars of being placed right beside Aaron.
“MOM!!” Aaron excitedly said before he sat down. “Here! I want you to have these!”
He handed me way-too-many Jolly Ranchers, his face full of delight because he loves to share. I hadn’t planned to eat Jolly Ranchers, but I wouldn’t disappoint his giving spirit for the world, so I cupped my hands and took his sweet gift.
He was getting situated under his blanket when he remembered something.
“Wait!!” he exclaimed. “I need to get my trash can!”
Having lived with Aaron for so long, I didn’t need to ask what he was doing. There are times that Aaron will use his trash can…and ONLY his trash can…for certain jobs. For instance, every Christmas Aaron must have his trash can with him for whatever he deems it must hold, despite the large trash bags that the rest of us use.
For whatever reason is in his mind, he knows when his trash can is the one that is needed for certain trash, and obviously our Jolly Rancher wrappers fit that mold on that night.
Soon we were watching Dr. Quinn, relishing our candy as we happily tossed our wrappers in the correct trash can perched between us…and all was right in Aaron’s world.
Like the Bible verse that says there is a way that seems right to a man, there is most assuredly a way that seems right to Aaron…and he will not veer from it, if at all possible. Pity you if you try to make him do so!
Yesterday, Aaron and I piled in the van for our ride to his day group. Aaron loves listening to music and as we are still in dinosaur mode, we use CDs. Aaron looks at each song’s number as he picks up the CD and checks the back for the song number and name. He rubs his hands together with great enjoyment, laughs, and listens very carefully to each song.
Aaron often sings one phrase from the last song he has heard on his rides. He will sing that phrase over and over, usually at home, while he is on his computer. Never will I forget the time that we stopped to shop at Wal-Mart. The last song he had heard was Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” It was very interesting hearing Aaron walk through Wal-Mart and in his monotone voice saying more than singing…over and over – “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”
The word “interesting” really doesn’t do it justice. Though I’m sure that he and I were VERY interesting to more than one person on that trip.
Anyway, Aaron had chosen to listen to Brad Paisley. We have several Brad Paisley CDs. Something else that Aaron will do is listen to CDs by the same artist in order of their production date, written in microscopic print on the back of each CD. Print that is seen only by Aaron. We cannot listen out of order. Nope.
We jumped in the van, with Aaron immediately reaching down to find the first CD in order, of course. And of course, he knows that the first Brad Paisley CD in the correct order carries the date of 2003. And the 2003 CD was not in the van.
We were still in the driveway, both of us looking for the 2003 CD, even getting out of the van to check behind our seats. I ended up running back into the house and finding three CDs in the cabinet that he had missed.
“YES!!” he said, “there’s the 2003!!”
His joy was contagious as we drove down the road, his hands rubbing together quickly and his laugh filling the van. What a difference it makes when Aaron can have things this seemingly unimportant set right in his world!
Last night, Aaron sat in his chair in his usual fashion as we watched TV. I noticed that he was pulling loose threads from his ever-present hand towel and rolling the threads up into little balls. Later, as we were on our way upstairs for bed, this is what I saw on the end table.
I just smiled and shook my head. How like Aaron and his life are these little thread balls, all rolled up and placed in a precise order according to Aaron’s plan!
And how important I felt it was for me to just leave them there. I could have told Aaron to come back down and clean up his mess! But this really isn’t a mess. This is Aaron’s order, done Aaron’s way.
It’s really a beautiful picture of Aaron’s mind.
And a reminder to me that there are many times when I must understand Aaron’s way of living…a way unlike my own but of no less value. Not try to brush it off as unimportant or messy or inconvenient, but to remember that Aaron is far happier if he is allowed to keep not only his ducks in a row, but also his CDs and his trash can and his candy…
And his thread balls!