Cool Aaron

My phone rang the other day and even before I looked, I pretty well knew it would be Aaron making his daily call from Paradigm, his day group.  Yep, there was Aaron on the other end of the call, talking the second I said “hello.”  He was excited and laughing about Chris, one of the Paradigm staff.

“Mom!!  Me and Chris are playing a game where I can’t talk!”

Well played, Chris, well played!   I just thought this.  I didn’t say it to Aaron.

“But Aaron,” I replied, “you’re talking now.”

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!”  Aaron bellowed.  “I guess I forgot the rules!!”

I laughed as well.  In fact, it felt very good to be laughing with Aaron.  I never know when I pick up the phone in what condition I will find Aaron.  Happy, sad, mad, crying, excited…I never am sure, so it’s with some dread that I answer his calls.

I had reason to feel dread this week because Aaron has been in a state of some anger and belligerence for awhile now.  We’re not totally sure of the why, but we are totally sure that his ups and downs are tiring to us and to his staff and friends at Paradigm.

This past Monday morning was rough at home.  I always let Aaron decide if he’ll go or not, knowing that forcing the issue is a recipe for disaster.  But Aaron also knows that if he does go to Paradigm then he gets extra treats and his meal of choice over the weekend.   He nearly always decides to go, but my reward system can also come back to bite me because the reason he goes is sometimes just for the future reward, and this stresses him to the point of bad behaviors.

Sometimes it’s just a perfect storm for a stormy day from Aaron!

Monday was that day.  Anger at home…then a calming…a fun ride to Paradigm because his music cheered him…and my last admonishment as he left the van.

“Aaron,” I said, “try to have a really good day.”

“I can’t make you any promise,” he seriously replied.

And I had to laugh at that as he walked away.  He was borrowing my often-used phrase when he tries to pin me down to doing something at a certain time, and I tell him I can’t make a promise.  How well he listens and mimics when it suits him!

And boy, it’s a good thing he didn’t make a promise to have a really good day because it was anything BUT a really good day!!  I’m very thankful for the patient staff at Paradigm!

Tuesday saw more issues at home, though not as severe as the previous day.  I was encouraged by his good day at Paradigm, but our evening at home hit bottom again.  He was not happy that Gary and I talked to our daughter on the phone before supper, in our bedroom with the door locked so that Aaron couldn’t come in and interrupt.  Aaron was very rude before supper and during supper.  Tough love ensued, ending with Aaron’s Cheddar Pasta Salad being taken away by Dad before he was through…and all his snacks being bagged up by Mom and put inside the locked van.

Well!!

Aaron finally calmed down as the evening progressed.  He turned a corner, looked at me as we watched a show, and surprisingly…and nicely…said, “Mom, I’m sorry.”

“Thank you, Aaron,” I replied.  “I’m sorry, too.”

“I like you, Mom,” he quietly said.

“I like you, too, Aaron,” I affirmed.

But the snacks stayed in the van, a test of his sincerity.

The next morning, yesterday, saw him irritable again and not wanting to hurry out of bed or hurry to get himself ready.  I don’t tell him to hurry – I’ve learned better – but he knows the underlying theme.

“Don’t rush me!!” he stated.  “I have no time to hurry!!”

Oh, Aaron!  I want to both laugh and cry when he talks that way!

So, this morning, we were getting ready to go to his yearly support plan meeting.  Again, he was sleepy and frustrated, and dreading this meeting.  It helped that we meet at Carlos O’Kelly’s and get to eat out, but Aaron still does NOT like meetings.  He wonders if he can stay at Paradigm, can he stay at home, and all sorts of other concerns.  I felt bad that he was scared so I assured him that things are staying the same for now, but still he was on protective mode.

“Mom, I’m telling them that you and Dad are starving me!” he declared, threatening to tell them about the locked away snacks.

Again, I didn’t react and told him he had every right to do just that.  But at the meeting, as he chomped down salad and chicken fingers and French fries, he was happy and loud and talked away at everything except his starvation.

We’ve been very weary lately, honestly.  I don’t know if his mood swings are because of medicine side effects…because of strong low fronts moving through this week…because of seizures last week…because of who knows what??

As we signed papers today, I laughed at Aaron’s signature.  This is his very favorite way to sign his name.

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Aaron has such a very hard time playing by our rules…the societal rules that dictate how we talk to others and respect others and give and receive love.  Try as we might, we cannot get him to tell us why he’s unhappy…at least not if his emotions are coming from someplace other than the fact that his snacks are locked away or he can’t stay home on his computer all day.

Aaron can convey plenty of facts.  What he can’t convey easily are his emotions…his deep-seated reasons for his angry actions.

Gary and I know this about Aaron, but sometimes it’s hard to remember it in the heat of battle.  That’s when we need to back away…take a deep breath…lean on each other and God…and remember one more thing.

Aaron Moore is cool.

He’s cool when he tries to sneak another notebook in to Paradigm to give away, knowing he’s not allowed to do that.

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He’s cool when he leans against my legs after he’s been so angry.

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He’s cool when he’s trying to feed an ant on the table at a restaurant.

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He’s cool when he’s giving and sharing.

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He’s cool when he’s “drying the bubbles off,” as he says.

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He’s cool when he’s playing a trick.

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He’s cool when he says, “MOM!!” at the grocery store and laughs and laughs at my reaction to him holding my LEAST favorite creature!!

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And in so many other ways, our unique Aaron is very cool, even when he makes me lose mine.

Let me remember that, Lord, in the heat of the moment.

Let me remember that you crafted and created Aaron’s coolness.

Aaron Moore IS cool!

 

I Did It My Way

In our Life Group the other night we were talking about the fourth chapter of James.  There James tells us that we shouldn’t say we’re going to go here or do this without acknowledging God’s will for us in these things.  James reminds his readers to say, “If the Lord wills, I will do this or do that.”  We talked about the signature song of Frank Sinatra, I Did It My Way, as being the exact opposite of the attitude that James wants for us.

But my friends, laying aside any spiritual implications, I must say that I have found Aaron’s life song!!  How many times in a day could Aaron, with his autistic way of living life, rub his hands together in glee and yell, “I DID IT MY WAY!!!”

Sometimes Aaron’s way is a funny way.  Sometimes Aaron’s way is a frustrating way.  Sometimes Aaron’s way is a very fascinating way.  But it is nearly always HIS WAY!!

One recent evening, Aaron wanted to set the table for supper.  I love having Aaron’s help.  Aaron knows my first comment will be for him to wash his hands, so here’s how it always goes:  “Mom, can I set the table?  I already just washed my hands.”

And I’m thinking, “Yeah, like two days ago?”  Aaron knows what Mom is thinking so he just turns and heads for the bathroom, returning with clean hands (I hope) and ready to set the table.  On this particular evening, when he was all done and had left the kitchen, I stood staring down at his place setting.

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What a perfect picture of Aaron doing things his way!  He must always have multiple forks and spoons, no matter what we are eating.  I was proud of the precise way that he placed his utensils and napkin on the correct side of the plate and humored by this example of how Aaron thinks deep in that amazing brain of his.  Gary and I each had been given one fork and one spoon, but Aaron set his place at the table HIS way.

Gary and I see Aaron doing life Aaron’s way every single day.  Let me show you some examples of Aaron’s way.

Look at how Aaron wears his watch way up on his arm.  He has always…and will always…wear his watch this way.

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Aaron loves this sweater and he wears it every day, even in the summer and even outside in the summer.  Plus, the slipper socks!

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When I drop Aaron off at his day group, I would always tell him to quit picking up sticks to carry inside to Piper, the resident day group dog.  One day I took my eyes off Aaron as he got out of our car to walk into the building.  When I looked up, he was limping.  I was alarmed, especially because we were getting ready to take a trip out of town.  Weird things happen before every trip…things like stitches and staples and ER visits and dental procedures, all involving Aaron.  So, I was very worried to see him limping.  I texted Barb, and soon she sent me back this picture.

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Aaron decided to be sneaky in how he carried sticks into Paradigm to give to Piper!  Now, every day, he stops to take off his shoe and place a stick inside…in full view of me and everyone else.  😊

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Aaron listens to music CDs as we drive.  He loves music, but almost always only as we drive.  And if there are multiple CDs, he will listen to them in order of the date they were produced.  “Mom,” he said one day, “I listen to them as the years have gone by.”

He also watches the credits after every movie, as intent on the screen as if it was the most exciting part of the movie he just watched.

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Watching him clip coupons is very interesting.  He cuts as precisely on the dotted line as he can, and then cuts each of those little strips into very small pieces that fill his special trash can.  The coupon papers are laid out neatly when he is done, with coupons stacked just right in the coupon box and restaurant coupons kept out separately.  If there are good coupons and I buy an extra paper, I hide it from Aaron because he will NOT let me clip coupons.  “You don’t do it right, MOM!!” he angrily says.  One day he grabbed coupons out of my hand and wadded them up into a ball because he was so angry to think of me cutting them.  This is how important it is to Aaron to do these things his way.

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Aaron loves to find items at his day group…even if he must open a drawer to do so…and bringing them home.  How many times I’ve made him return many of those pilfered pens and sticky notes and clips and much more!  One day he got in the van, reached into the bag he was carrying, and showed me the boy’s bathroom sign.  “AARON!!” I exclaimed.  “You took the boy’s bathroom sign?!!”  But he assured me that Chris let him take it because they put up a new one, and Chris came to the car to confirm to me that this was true, and now Aaron’s bathroom at home has the prized sign on the door!

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Aaron crunches mulch outside into a bucket.  This is his special way of relaxing.

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What’s funny is to watch him at a restaurant that serves peanuts.  Here he is yesterday as we ate lunch after his doctor visit, crunching peanut shells just like he does the mulch.

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I could go on and on with these examples.  You see why I say that I Did It My Way is a very appropriate way to describe Aaron.  But I like even better to say that Aaron is really doing his life God’s way.  After all, God has fearfully and wonderfully made Aaron just the way he is.

So, yes, Aaron is doing things his way but it’s because God made Aaron HIS way!!

 

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