Last night, I peeked into Aaron’s room and saw this:
THIS…is Aaron finishing The Meg movie by watching the credits. He keeps his eyes glued to the screen as if he is looking at the most pivotal part of the movie and wouldn’t dare look away. He knew that I was getting ready to go downstairs so that he and I could watch our nightly show.
“Mom, I’m almost done!” he said. “It won’t be long!”
To Aaron, the credits are a part of the movie. He will not end a movie when most of us say that a movie is over. No. The movie is over only when the credits end.
If Aaron starts something, he will finish it in his Aaron way.
Aaron has started something else recently. It’s not the first time we’ve seen him start this thing, but it’s the most recent. It’s not something that we can touch or see, but it’s something that we definitely hear. And feel…because Aaron feels it deeply.
I can explain it by telling what happened a few weeks ago. We were eating breakfast on a Saturday morning on our patio. Gary prayed before we ate. One thing he did was to ask God to take care of us, and also to bless and take care of Andrea and Kyle, and Andrew. He named them, but for us three sitting at the table, Gary just said “us.”
No big deal, right? Wrong.
Aaron’s head popped up after the prayer and immediately he said, “You don’t also want to love ME?!”
Gary NOT using Aaron’s name did NOT sit well with Aaron.
We talked about why Gary called us “us,” and explained that it had not one thing to do with not loving Aaron. Aaron finally hushed about it, but we could tell he wasn’t totally convinced.
Like I said, once Aaron starts something, he will finish it…sometimes weeks later. And even if we think it’s finished, one more little part of it may emerge at any moment.
Aaron has a very difficult time expressing his deep feelings in conversation. He also has a blind spot when it comes to seeing how he is affecting others at times. But to be so unaware of other’s reactions, he sure can see a difference sometimes in how we talk to him compared to how we talk to our other children.
For instance, when I’m on the phone with Andrea, Aaron will almost always stand beside me at some point and want to talk to her. He waits and waits until I let him have the phone, or turn it on speaker, and then he goes on and on and on about his latest movie or game. He doesn’t ask her about her life but gets his satisfaction by doing all the talking. Andrea responds so well, and Aaron loves it.
But Aaron has also observed that the way I talk to Andrea, and she talks to me, is different from how we talk to him. He doesn’t get why it’s that way, and he really isn’t able to change it, but he does know that our interactions with each other are not what they’re like with him.
This has been bothering him lately, and he’s been comparing himself to her or to Andrew. Therefore, he strives for attention…and Gary and I strive to give him a share of our attention while we are getting more and more tired of the striving.
The other night, Gary and I snuck outside and sat on our front porch. Just the two of us. Talking. Uninterrupted.
But then we heard the door in the garage close. Aaron popped around the corner. We were caught!
There Aaron stood, talking and talking and talking. Talking about Terminators and Trandoshians and clones from the Delta squad and visor modes…
Our brains freeze and our minds wander when Aaron talks non-stop. Then he asks a question, waiting for an answer, and we do a mental hustle trying to remember what on earth he was talking about. It’s a scenario repeated so often, and one that Aaron so often interprets as a lack of interest on our part.
A couple nights ago, Andrea texted during supper and sent us a picture of what is growing on the mystery plant in their yard. Grapes! It was fun to see the picture as we’ve all wondered if the plant was a grapevine. Gary and I were happy!
Then yesterday, she sent a picture of their first onion harvest from their backyard garden. And again, we were happy.
But Aaron was not happy. Once again, he sensed more enthusiasm from us about Andrea’s life than his. And once again we were doing damage control for much of the evening. UGH!!
This morning, Aaron was up and on his computer at 4:30. That’s 4:30 A.M!!! I got him to go back to bed, but he was up again not long after. And as I talked to him, he mentioned Andrea and her things and he hoped she wouldn’t call.
I sighed. But not where he could hear me. He heard me sigh once when I was on the verge of anger.
“Don’t breathe madly!!” he commanded me.
I went to the kitchen this morning, and then decided to do the hard thing that I didn’t feel like doing. I walked back upstairs to Aaron, sitting at his computer.
“Hey, Aaron,” I said. “Do you want some eggs and bacon?”
He did. So later, there we were, sitting at our kitchen table eating eggs and bacon. I wanted to be having my quiet time and talking to God, but here I was having a not-so-quiet time and talking to Aaron.
But before I prayed over our food, Aaron blew me away by what he said.
“I just want to be included,” he said.
That was truly amazing! And as we ate, I was able to assure him that he IS included in our lives. Yet no number of words coming from my mouth gave him assurance of that fact as much as my listening to HIS words coming from his mouth.
Really listening. Asking questions. Looking at his Ironman Guide Book that he ran and got from his room.
The flying fortress. AIM. Girl face statues. Titanium Man. The frozen ship. The brain controls that make you dizzy. And oh, SO much more!
Then I got a text on my phone.
“Better not be Andrea,” Aaron muttered. “Like her grapes and onions!”
I wanted to laugh but knew better. And I know better than to think that this inclusion and being loved business is settled. I know it isn’t. But I was very touched by how Aaron calmed and responded when he knew he had not only my full attention, but my full interest.
The credits on this part of Aaron’s life movie are still rolling, and we must show interest…and also guide him to know when it’s time for a break.
And that a break doesn’t mean exclusion!
God, give us and so many other parents like us the grace to love ALL our children just the same, even when the expression of that love is anything but the same.