War!

War:  A struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end

According to the above definition, Aaron and I are in a state of war.  We are actually in a state of war on two fronts.  One front has been ongoing for a long time…………the other is fairly new, but escalated today.

Moore War One:  The Fan Wars

Aaron has a tendency to get hot.  Not hot as in angry……well, sometimes he does do that…….but hot as in just hot……like sweaty hot.  Yuck!  Of course, it could have something to do with the fact that he often has his fuzzy blanket thrown over his lap as he sits at his desk and is on his computer.  And under that blanket may very well be long pajama pants, slipper socks AND slippers, and even a long sleeved shirt.  Never mind that we’ve told him time and again that he is way overdressed.  This is how he seems to be comfortable and if Aaron is comfortable then there is a slim-to-none chance that he will change what he is doing.

Aaron’s solution to being hot isn’t to dress lighter, although at times he does put on shorts along with a cooler shirt………while still using that fuzzy blanket.  His solution is to turn on his ceiling fan, no matter what time of year it is.  The whirring of his ceiling fan is a very common sound upstairs where his bedroom is located.

A year or two ago I bought him a little portable fan to put on his bookcase beside his desk.  I showed him how this fan could be used to blow on him and keep him from being so hot.  I thought that this was a great idea and was sure that Aaron would agree.  I should have known better.  Before long, we noticed that the fan was positioned to blow directly on Aaron’s computer………..not on Aaron himself.  So I moved the fan back to the blowing-on-Aaron position……only to walk in later and find it in the blowing-on-the-computer position.

When questioned, Aaron told us that his computer gets hot and so he uses his nice, new portable fan to blow on his computer in order to cool it down.  No amount of persuasion, pleading, demanding, or scientific data showing otherwise has caused Aaron to budge on this issue.  He is sure that his computer is too hot and that it needs the constant blowing of his fan in order to cool down and not explode, I guess.  Aaron keeps his ceiling fan on for himself, and has changed his little blowing-on-Aaron fan into a blowing-on-the-computer fan.

He also thinks that these fans need to be running constantly.  I do not agree.  When we leave the house, I always tell Aaron to turn his fans off.  And sure enough, sneaky Aaron will somehow manage on many mornings to keep those fans turned on……..as he did today.  Sometimes he’ll even go back into the house under the guise of getting something or doing something – but in reality he is sneaking back upstairs to turn those fans on.

So the Fan Wars continue and will for the foreseeable future, I’m sure.

Moore War Two:  The Body Wash Wars

Do you remember Aaron’s body wash that he said contained confetti?  Well, he threw it away one day because he said it was empty.  I rescued it from the trash because it was by NO means nearly empty.  When turned upside down, there were days and days of future showers in that bottle.  Listen, I am the woman who cuts open plastic bottles in order to use all the remaining face wash or lotion or other such things that are in there……..days and days of face washes and lotions I have found inside those bottles!  So no way was I letting Aaron throw away days and days worth of his confetti body wash!

Aaron does not have my thrifty nature.  He also does not seem to appreciate upside down bottles.  He has refused to use the body wash that has gathered in the upside down bottle.  I have persevered, though, even while he got under his sink and pulled out a full, new bottle of a different brand of body wash.  He has used this entire bottle, even while the confetti body wash has remained there, upside down and untouched.

This morning Aaron came into my bathroom and said, “Mom, I threw out those hair detergent things.  When I turned it up and squeezed, it made an air sound.”

Now notice that Aaron said he threw away those hair detergent things…….plural.  But then he referred to the air sound as coming from only one bottle.  Uh-huh.  He took the opportunity of having one empty bottle as a chance to throw both bottles away.  Who does he think he’s dealing with?  An amateur?  No way!

After I got home from taking him to his group, and had turned his fans off, I checked his bathroom trash can.  Yes, I knew it!  He had thrown away his upside down confetti body wash that still has days and days of showers left.  Now that bottle of confetti body wash is perched upside down once again in his shower.  I am not easily defeated.

Problem is, neither is Aaron.  Things could get hot around here!  Wonder if he’d let me borrow his little fan?

God is Great……..God is Good

 

Last night I enjoyed a beautiful light and sound show, thanks to our great Creator God.  Just as we were turning in for the night, a pretty significant Kansas storm was cranking up.  Aaron loves storms, and so he was getting all ready to sink into his covers and watch the lightning through his windows that he faces from his bed.  Of course, that was after he made sure that all of his covers were just right and that his clock that was flashing from a previous short power outage was reset – using my cell phone as his reference point since his portable digital clock is broken.  I hoped he was settled as I finally made my way to bed.
 
I’m sleeping in Andrea’s former room right now due to a shoulder injury that causes much tossing and turning on my part, along with pillows and grunts and groans that I feel will bother Gary.  The windows in Andrea’s room face the direction from which the storm was coming, and it’s upstairs so the open, rural view is perfect.  The blinds were staying up so that I would have a perfect, unimpeded view of the storm.  I knew exactly what I was going to do as I climbed into bed and turned the nightstand lamp off.  Worship.  And rest in God’s greatness and power on full display outside.
 
Several years ago, Gary and I were going through a particularly trying time in our lives.  I had been praying for Gary in specific ways as he faced certain stresses and frustrations that were weighing him down.  As I prayed for him, though, I didn’t really know what to pray for.  I just knew that I needed to pray for God to do a work in his life and in our lives together.  God did just that.  He answered my prayer……but not in the way that I would ever have expected, and definitely not in a way I would have wanted.   God moved in a way that caused much personal pain for both of us over a period of many months, and still continues somewhat today.  Yet through that rough time, God showed us more than we could have imagined.  He proved Himself faithful, and He caused us to grow in our walk with Him and in our relationship to each other, to our children, and to our dear family and friends. 
 
Gary and I had gone to Missouri one weekend to spend some time with Andrew at a racing event.  On that Saturday morning in our hotel room, while Gary did some studying for his Sunday School lesson, I opened my Bible randomly and looked down at Isaiah 40.  I began to read that chapter as well as the next one, and was overwhelmed with the reminder of just Who God is.  God was speaking to Israel, but the concepts of His greatness and power apply to all of us today as well.
 
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Reading about the pure power of God in creation had a profound impact on me as I sat on that hotel bed.  This God of mine holds the oceans in His hand!  Imagine that!  He measures the universe with the span of His hand!  He weighs the mountains!  He sits above the circle of the earth, and stretches out the heavens like a curtain!  He calls each star by name!  And to Him, we are like little grasshoppers; nations are like a drop in a bucket or like a speck of dust on the scales; rulers come and go at His command.  I could go on and on from these two chapters in Isaiah that spell out God’s might and our insignificance.  What really struck me was this thought:  How can I doubt God’s ability to handle my life, Gary’s life, or our children’s lives when I catch a glimpse of His unbelievable power and strength?  How can I question whether he can arrange our lives when I just read about how he arranged universes? 
 
When I pray with my eyes on my problems, then certainly I pray in my own weakness.  But when I pray with my eyes on this God of the universe, then certainly I pray in His strength.  And in that strength I can rest, knowing full well that He can absolutely do anything and everything.  When I think in my heart, “Well, I don’t know how on earth God can manage to do this thing that I’m praying about,”  then I am relying on my own power…………and I have none.  It’s good for me to return often to Isaiah 40 and 41, and to be reminded of just Whom I am praying to and relying upon. 
 
God does things that I don’t understand.  In these Isaiah verses, He also asks this question:  Who has directed or counseled or taught God?  No one has done those things!  Who could ever teach this great God?  Yet there are times that I try to take that place in this life and figure things out……make sense of situations……give God ideas of how to work, all the while wondering if He can really do those things for me. 
 
I don’t know why God made Aaron to have Epilepsy and Autism.  But I do know my wonderful God………the God that I worshipped last night as I was nearly blinded by His fantastic light show.  I know that He is sovereign and perfect, and that I can trust His plan for me and for Gary and for our Aaron.  I know that He will take care of Andrea in grad school and of Andrew in his senior year of college. 
 
God is great……..I am not.  That’s the bottom line.  God loves me and He loves my family.  These Isaiah verses also state that He does not become weary or tired; that His understanding is unsearchable; that He gives strength; that He will uphold; and that He doesn’t want me to look anxiously about me. 
 
I relished the time with Him last night, being reminded of His power with every dazzling flash of lightning and every boom of thunder.  I felt small and overwhelmed………but so protected by this all powerful God Who loves me with a fierce love.  He can do anything and everything.  He wants my time and my obedience and my trust. 
 
Everything else He can handle just fine.  

Gotta Laugh – A Lot!

You may wonder how I remember all the comments that Aaron makes.  Well, I scribble things on post-it notes; or in a little notebook that I keep in my purse; or on my tablet; or on any piece of paper that I can quickly grab if I have nothing else and must write quickly in order to keep from forgetting.  I have quite a collection – and this is after all the blogs I’ve written.  I remove his sayings that I write about……..and you should see all the ones I still have that are waiting to be told.  Therefore, I thought that I’d just randomly tell you a few of his spur-of-the-moment remarks so that I can remove some from my list or throw away a few sticky notes……….and hopefully give you a reason to smile or maybe laugh.

Aaron’s internet was messed up some time back.  He had to wait for Gary to fix it.  Aaron’s way to explain this situation:  “Mom, my internet crashed down.”    Hope you were able to move out of the way, Aaron.

While he waited for our new grass to sprout out back:  “Mom, has any grass formed?”

He’s hot natured, but sometimes still goes to bed with tons of covers and even a sweater.  One morning I was lamenting the fact that his pillow was sweaty and he said, “Mom, my hair gets hot!”

My dad was color blind and so is Aaron.  One day he was talking about his own color blindness and said, “Mom, do you think I’ve taken over Granddaddy’s section?”

One day after a trip out to the mall with Paradigm, he was very interested in the blind man that he saw.  “Mom!  I saw this blind man and he was wearing a stick!”

The scented oil warmer in his room dried up and so Aaron asked, “Mom, can I have a good smell thing in my room?”

Today he was telling me about his friend at Paradigm.  “Mom, J’s father is handicapped.  J has to help him with things.  I didn’t go too far and ask him if he helps his dad go to the bathroom.  That would have been too far, right?”     Yes!  That would have been way too far, Aaron.

He has a friend in his day group, a girl, with whom he teases……..a lot.  I think sometimes things get a little carried away, but they don’t seem to get mad at each other.  Tonight he said, “Mom, if T calls me names……..I mean bad word names……….I say, ‘Good, I’m glad to.’ ”    Oh brother.  His response may not always be the best thing to say at all…………but I am NOT explaining that to him.  Gary can.

And finally, one of my very favorites of all time was when he told me about going up the escalator in the mall with Cody, one of his favorite staff.  I didn’t ask Cody about this story but here is Aaron’s version:   “Mom!  Cody and I were going up the escalator at the mall.  I pulled this thing and I heard alarms!”    Good grief, Aaron!  Did you really?

“Yeah, I pulled this thing.  It said something on it.”

Well, WHAT DID IT SAY??!!

He replied,  “Not to.”

HaHaHaHa!!  I can laugh because I wasn’t there.

And I hope these little snippets have made you laugh or at least smile.  And I’ve marked a few things off of my “Aaron’s comments”  list.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday on a Tuesday?!

Aaron has a pill box that I refill every Saturday night or Sunday morning.  On Sunday I spilled part of a drink on top of his pill box when it was full, naturally.  Some of the drink got into two of the full pill sections, so I had to throw those pills out.  The inside of those sections is a mess, so I decided to just buy a new pill box the next time I’m at Wal-Mart.  In the meantime, those two sections of pills are now empty.  The order is messed up on Aaron’s pill box.  You know where I’m going with this.

This morning, Aaron came straggling into the kitchen right after he got up.  He and I sat at the table while he finished waking up, with him telling me his usual morning story about how tired he is.  I was asking about what he wanted for breakfast after he showered, and then I told him that he could go ahead and take his pills.  The Tuesday morning section is empty now, so I told him that he could just take the Wednesday morning pills……..and that I would straighten it all up as soon as I buy that new pill box.

Aaron sat there, staring down……..deep in pondering thought.  Then he softly said, “I don’t know.”  Well, I knew exactly what he didn’t know and why he didn’t know it, but I wanted to see if I could get him to bend just a little………to veer just a tad from his usual pill box order.  I set the box down in front of him, and pointed to the Wednesday morning section on this beautiful TUESDAY morning.  “See, Aaron?  You can just take the Wednesday morning pills.  They’re just the same as the TUESDAY morning pills.”

He continued to stare at the disorderly pill box.  Then he slowly shook his head, as he quietly said, “No.”

“Why not, Aaron?” I asked.

And he answered patiently for his rather slow-witted mother, “Because it’s not Wednesday.”

I know defeat when I see it.  I got the pills down and refilled the TUESDAY morning section.  “Now will you take them?”  I queried.

He brightened.  “Yes!”  he said.

What ever possessed me to think that on a TUESDAY morning Aaron could possibly take the WEDNESDAY morning pills?

Aaron is not Gumby.  He can only stretch so far in that orderly world of his.  You can’t say I didn’t try, though.  

Forgiveness

This morning did not go as I had planned.  Maybe it’s because I feel so tired.  I haven’t slept well for several nights and don’t know why.  We all do that at times.  And you know how those long nights are, when every little issue in life is magnified.  Nothing is horribly wrong, but even my to-do list seems overwhelming at one in the morning!  But all of this is an excuse, really, and I know it.

Aaron had a dental appointment this morning.  I looked forward to this being a morning of Aaron being in a compliant, happy mood because he would be looking forward to lunch and maybe a Wal-Mart trip.  Instead, I found Aaron down on my computer, looking up cheat codes for a game.  I fussed at him and he got off, but came up to my room wanting to know if I would print off some cheat codes for him.  He was carrying a large sheaf of stapled-together codes that he said a staff member at Paradigm had printed off for him.  It was very large – the number on the last sheet was 77!  And Aaron wanted me to print it off again………at least that’s what he said……….and so began the very frustrating process of trying to figure out the why and the what of Aaron’s request.

Aaron couldn’t explain to me exactly what it was he wanted me to print, even as I explained to him that I was not printing 77 pages – that he already had!  He began to escalate, and then hit my dresser with his fist as he walked out.  Thus ensued the fight – not physically, but verbally.  I was trying to understand what he wanted and at the same time calm him down, all the while feeling my tiredness and my exasperation mounting.  Soon I was yelling……..and Aaron was yelling……..and I yelled louder………and Aaron responded likewise.  It was a lose-lose situation all the way around.  I backed off and walked away, taking a few minutes to calm down and then approaching Aaron again as he headed toward my room.  We came to an agreement……….more of a stalemate……..and soon left for the dentist.  Both of us were quiet and rather depleted.  And I was feeling very guilty.

Aaron waited for me in the van as I put something in the mailbox, picked up the newspaper, and got the empty trash cans ready to roll back to the house.  I took a step or two and then saw it……….a weed growing up between a crack in our driveway.  What would have been an ugly weed, except for one thing.  Growing on that weed were such delicate little violet blooms that I had to stop in my tracks and stare down at it.  Those little blooms transformed that otherwise annoying weed into a soft spot of beauty on our driveway.  Instantly my heart was pricked.  My behavior with Aaron not an hour earlier was ugly and hateful.  I let my tiredness and my selfishness call the shots instead of letting the Holy Spirit empower me to respond to Aaron with love and kindness.

Out of my nasty behavior, I needed something soft and pretty to grow……..something that only Christ could enable to bloom.  Forgiveness.  In particular, to BE forgiven by Aaron.  I’ve read and studied a lot about forgiveness over the past few years.  In fact, I just listened to some on-line lessons last week on this very subject.  I know quite a bit about the anatomy of extending forgiveness and being forgiven.  Could I practice this today?  With my child?  With Aaron?

I know that asking for true forgiveness means naming the sin you have committed, without making excuses for your behavior, and asking to be forgiven.  As Aaron and I ate lunch, I waited for him to pause in his monologue of the moment and then I said, “Aaron, I’m very sorry that I got so angry this morning.  I’m sorry I yelled and acted hateful to you.”   Aaron looked at me, gave a little grunt, and stuffed more pizza into his mouth.  I continued, “So Aaron, will you forgive me?”  Another grunt.  And I repeated, “Will you forgive me?”  And he said, “Yeah.  Hey, did you know that I woke up at 8:33 but I stayed in bed, and then got up at 9:04?”

I chuckled.  This is as good as it will get with Aaron in the forgiveness department.  Oh, he heard me loud and clear………..and he registered every word that I said.  He may still call me weird, as he did earlier…….or maybe not.  He knows, though, that I am sorry.  He knows that I love him.  He knows that I am human……..and weird sometimes.

And I know that a little flower began to bloom in my guilt-ridden heart.  For I had also asked God to forgive me and He did more than grunt.  He has given me assurances all over His Word that He is there, waiting with open arms to forgive………..and to forget!  I can’t forget my behavior, but I pray that I will once again learn from my failure and grow in this issue of forgiveness.   Grow and bloom………beauty from ashes, God says.

Just like my little driveway weed.

Throw ON the Towel!

Here we go again.  I heard it from upstairs…….the sound of the plastic containers full of coffee hitting the floor and then the thump.  My heart sank as I hurried downstairs to check on Aaron.  He was fine, although sprawled on the floor with spilled coffee all around him.   He jerked and dropped his coffee yet again………lukewarm coffee, thankfully.  And thankfully he didn’t throw his coffee containers as he has been known to do when he’s in a rage. This was a true accident, but messy and discouraging none the less.

I was frustrated with Aaron this morning over a couple things already and this didn’t help, believe me.  My compassion for him still hasn’t quite kicked in yet.  He has cleaned up and showered, and seems to be fine.  I hope he’s not bruised.

I just stood and looked at this mess………coffee all over the floor, the cabinets, on and under the frig.  UGH!  And I thought of how many times I’ve just felt like throwing in the towel.  We all do, don’t we, whether we are parents or not.  But we can’t quit.  God doesn’t and we can’t.  Especially as parents……….these children are given to us by God and He wants us to hang in there despite how tough it sometimes is.

So instead of throwing IN the towel, we throw ON a towel.  We clean the messes up step by step, bit by bit. We’ll see progress one day, even if it’s slow to come…………even when we just stand there and don’t know where to start.  God gives patience; and God gives us the same grace toward our children or others that He has extended to us.  We clean up the messes, whatever they may be, and we push forward.

The rest of the day is before us.  It’s up to me now not to mess up my reactions and my attitudes.  I’ll need to grab another towel if I’m not careful!

Rocking Together

Yesterday was one of those days.  It was a culmination of several of “those” days that actually became one of THOSE days.  Am I making sense?  Let me once again offer some quotes from Karen Williams in her excellent article – Understanding the Student with Asperger’s Syndrome.  For Gary and I, the title should read – Understanding Our Son with Asperger’s Syndrome (If That Is Even Remotely Possible).  Williams says, under the category of Emotional Vulnerability:  “Rage reactions/temper outbursts are common in response to stress/frustration.”   She goes on to say that those with Asperger’s “………..are easily overwhelmed when things are not as their rigid views dictate they should be.”

I would add that, likewise, parents of Asperger’s children (or adults who behave like children) are at times overwhelmed when things are not as their child (or adult who behaves like a child) wants them to be.  Williams adds, “Affect as reflected in the teacher’s voice should be kept to a minimum.  Be calm, predictable, and matter-of-fact in interactions with the child with AS, while clearly indicating compassion and patience.”

As a parent with an adult (who sometimes behaves like a child) with Asperger’s, I do whole-heartily agree with Williams.  I would also add that perhaps the parent should have a pillow to scream into; a punching bag hanging in the garage to punch on; a blog to write in……………OK, just kidding.  Sort of.

Aaron’s been hung up on a computer game and it’s been all consuming to him.  Saturday was one of those days when he just would not get off the computer to shower, take his pills, or even eat.  Aaron has to reach a certain level of a game before he will turn it off.  This is why we removed Nintendo and PlayStation from our home years ago.  He does much better on the computer, for some reason, but occasionally will revert to these old behaviors.  When this happens, we take the keyboard away and hide it.  Aaron has come to expect this and is usually agreeable about it………..as if it’s almost a relief to have the temptation removed.

Yesterday he was not relieved.  We removed his keyboard Saturday night, so on Sunday he clipped coupons and then napped while our small group was here for lunch.  After his nap, when the small group was gone and a friend who had stopped by had left, Aaron fully expected that his keyboard would be returned.  We had not made it clear that we were not returning the keyboard at that time.  Mistake number one:  Not being clear and consistent, and expecting Aaron to follow along.  Consistency has always been an issue, especially with me.  And inconsistency and change does not work well with Aaron.

Aaron was talking to Gary and me about all of this, and followed Gary downstairs to his study, where they continued to have a pleasant conversation.  Gary was very upbeat and happy.  Aaron was holding a container of his favorite Pringles……………and was becoming agitated.  Soon I heard a strange noise and when I walked downstairs I discovered Gary staring quietly at the mess.  Aaron had thrown his container of Pringles across the room and there was a huge pile of chips and crumbs all over the floor as well as some of Gary’s bookshelves.

Well, well, well…………now what?  Aaron grabbed the container, twisting and squeezing it in sheer frustration as he continued to escalate.  Gary and I followed him upstairs, talking calmly to him………….no affect in our voices at all.  If we yelled, we knew that Aaron would go through the roof.  His eyes were darting around, probably trying to find something else to break.  We stood there, using soothing tones that calmed Aaron a little but were not totally defusing the situation, when suddenly Gary asked, “Aaron, do you want to go to Dairy Queen and get a blizzard?”

It was amazing to see Aaron’s face.  His struggle was so evident as he tried to process this offer.  He was slowly deflating, but he wanted to still be angry.  He paced around the family room and then angrily said, “OK!!  I’ll go!”  He put on his shoes and socks, and then Gary asked him if he wanted to take the van or the truck.  Aaron calmed down even more as he said that he wanted to take the truck, so off Gary and Aaron went……….with Aaron sitting up in the truck with his dad.  I knew what an effort it took for Gary to do this.  He was tired after a hard weekend of working outside, studying for Sunday School, and teaching that morning.  I knew that Gary wanted nothing more than to rest, to relax, to have time for some things that he wanted to do.

His love for his son was evident…………..both of us were loving Aaron at that moment but not really liking him.  While they were gone, I vacuumed up the mess downstairs, wishing that the messes that Aaron makes in our hearts were as easy to dispose of and forget.  When they returned home, Aaron was a different person.  He was full of talk about his M&M Blizzard, their run through the car wash, what road they were on, and the barber shop that was nearby………….”You know, Mom, they have that red and white sign that looks like a spinning candy cane!!”

Later, Aaron and I sat on the glider on the front porch as a thunderstorm moved through.  I love doing that and was happy that Aaron joined me when I invited him to come out.  There the two of us sat on the glider, trying to rock as the wind blew and the thunder rumbled and the rain came down.  We talked………..mostly Aaron talked, of course……………and I kept trying to rock.  You see, Aaron likes to sit forward on the glider and when he does this, he rocks in his own rhythm……….which is the opposite of the way I am rocking.  When I went forward, Aaron went back.  Then when I was going backward, Aaron was pushing forward.  This is not conducive to smooth rocking!  I told him to sit back and relax so that we could rock, and for a minute or two he would.  Then he would sit forward again………..and again we would not be able to smoothly rock as he was moving against my every move.  I just observed, and smiled, and laughed softly at the awkwardness of this supposed rocking.

And I realized how Gary and I have to rock together in our life with Aaron.  We don’t always accomplish this feat, believe me!  Any married couple will agree that it takes time to develop unity in every area of marriage.  Aaron and his issues have certainly been difficult for us at times.  We haven’t always agreed on how to handle discipline, especially, as well as other areas.  Time and maturity and experience have taught us so much.  So many times, I have rocked one way while Gary is rocking in another direction.  This makes for jerky, unhappy motions in our marriage and in Aaron’s life as well.  He needs us to be unified………..and Gary and I need to be a solid unit as we deal with Aaron’s life and decisions that involve him.

Gary blessed me yesterday in how he handled Aaron with love and wisdom.  We were rocking together and the result was smoothness and pleasure in the end as we saw Aaron relax and calm down.  We never know what we’ll face today or tomorrow with Aaron, but we do know that if we rock together with God in the center, then life will be much happier and certainly more peaceful.