I heard an old George Strait song yesterday that could have been Aaron’s theme song leading up to our trip to Texas. The song is titled “I Hate Everything.” And oh boy, did Aaron ever!
The night before we left saw us reeling under all Aaron’s verbal blows. He was livid at having to go with us, far preferring that we hire a caregiver to watch him while Gary and I went alone. We were definitely with him on that as the evening wore on and we were worn out.
The next morning was no better. Aaron didn’t like us, the trip, the car, the snacks we took, Texas, Andrea, Kyle, their dogs…nothing. The only thing he liked was his idea of staying home and that was NOT going to happen, so we were stuck with lots of “not likes” and plenty of anger.
“I hate this vacation!!” he declared as we drove down the interstate.
Aaron does not enjoy leaving his room, his house, his routine, his bed…his normal. These things are such a part of what makes Aaron function in his normal that the process of uprooting, even for just a week, is nearly more than he can bear.
Aaron accepted his inevitable doom as we drove farther away from normal. Gary and I left him to his games, his music, and his movies as we quietly recovered. How draining it all was! I texted and messaged friends and family to please pray. What a comfort it was to know that we were being brought before the Lord! I know that many of my fellow bloggers were also praying, and I thank you so much for that.
We stopped a few hours down the road at our favorite Oklahoma City rest area. And there Aaron found a cute little stuffed owl that we let him buy. He rubbed his hands together in his happy way as we paid, and Gary and I felt like doing the same as we saw a lifting of Aaron’s anger. A chocolate milkshake and onion rings from the nearby Sonic gave him further reason to smile.
It’s a very long drive to Houston, and then even farther to Andrea and Kyle’s house in League City. Aaron had lots of time to think about the upcoming week of change and uncertainty that he felt waited for him there. We saw occasional outbursts from him about how he still didn’t like this vacation.
Finally, there it was…the Houston skyline.
And not too long after, we were pulling into Kyle and Andrea’s driveway. We could hear their 3 adorable dogs barking as we got out of the car. Soon we were sharing hugs and doggie pats, settling our things in our rooms, and sitting down to the pizza that was waiting for us.
What a relief it was to see that Aaron was relaxed! He had immediately given the dogs their treats and toys we had brought to them. As we sat around the table, I was so touched to see the total attention that Kyle and Andrea paid to Aaron as he talked non-stop.
That attention to whatever Aaron is saying is one of his major love languages. The things he talks about can be mind-numbing to us but not to him. Listening, commenting, answering his many questions…that means more to Aaron than we often stop to recognize. But Kyle and Andrea know Aaron, and they love him, and they showed it by listening with great interest to his talk of…whatever it was he was saying. 😊
Later, as we were getting ready for bed, Aaron had me fill his water bottle that he keeps by his bed to drink while he reads a book before he goes to sleep. Got that? Because that little fact is very important.
I gave Aaron his pills while he was getting in bed. Not having any other water, I told Aaron to just drink some of the water from that water bottle.
“No!” Aaron told me. “I can’t drink that water to take my pills. That’s the water I drink while I’m reading in bed!”
I was so tired. I sighed, and Aaron heard me.
“You don’t understand,” he said, with some anger returning. “No one understands me!”
It was like some of that water splashed me in the face as I was hit with a fresh look into Aaron’s heart. Try as we might, sometimes it truly is very hard to understand Aaron.
Or maybe we understand on paper, when things are calm, but in the middle of the moment when we’re stressed it can be very hard to slow down, take a breath, step back, and see the world through Aaron’s eyes. Feel it with his senses.
This whole trip was like going to Mars for him in many ways.
“Please, Mom,” it was like he was saying. “Don’t also make me use my bedtime water bottle for taking my pills. Don’t you understand?!”
My rising frustration was immediately replaced with empathy for this son of ours who didn’t ever ask to have autism. But he does ask that we try to understand him as he lives with the rigidity that autism causes.
Push aside my exhaustion, my frustration, my expectations – and simply give him a separate glass of water for pill taking.
What a gift that was to Aaron!
And to me as I once again saw him relax. I knew that I, too, had spoken Aaron’s love language.
I have so much to tell you about our time in Texas. It was the best trip ever for all of us! I’ll share more later, hopefully soon, in my upcoming blogs.
Bless all of you for reading and for caring! Good night and sweet dreams.