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?
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!
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.
It’s been one of those mornings. You know……..one of THOSE mornings. I went to bed bothered by worrisome issues that I should not go to bed being bothered by……….those worrisome issues. Can’t end that sentence in a preposition. 🙂 I went to my new location in Andrea’s old room that I’ve set up for myself……..a new desk and an alone place to have my quiet time. The new location didn’t seem to help. I felt stifled and ineffective in my time with the Lord this morning. Distracted…….and thinking that I needed to dodge my prayers that were bouncing off the ceiling, going no where. Is Satan unhappy about my desire for a more intimate time with the Lord? Perhaps.
Later, I looked at the weather forecast and the upcoming week of temps above 100 and no rain only increased my weariness. Our scratchy dog with allergies; laundry waiting to be washed or put away; dishes to take care of; even a Supreme Court ruling and an election in Egypt that I don’t agree with were piling up in my mind. Talk about taking on the cares of the world. Come on, Patty. This is really ridiculous!
After my shower, I heard good old Aaron in the hall. “Mom?” I told him that I would be out in a minute. I could tell that I would have very little patience with him today………shame on me. He thumped downstairs to take his pills and thumped back up to see if we could now talk. I again told him to wait……….and when I did open my door, he was in his room and promptly told me to come look at his finger. He held it up for me as I walked in, and there it was………….his index finger, all wrapped up in a bloody band-aid.
My patience was even less now. “Mom, last night I had some loose skin and so I used my knife to cut it off.” Oh Aaron. We’ve heard this story before and I knew what was coming………..and it did. He wanted to know if he should have used his little pocket knife to cut off the skin; why not?; what would I use?; that he couldn’t help it that the knife slipped, etc., and etc. I removed the band-aid and saw the raw wound where he had cut or pulled off his loose skin. I could feel my irritation increasing. I told him to go shower…………his whole body, by the way, not just his finger! I know how he thinks.
Aaron showered and then came to my bathroom, where I further cleaned and medicated and dressed his wound. He could sense my mood and so he scurried on downstairs, deciding to get his own coffee and carry it to his room himself without bothering his moody mom. Soon I heard, “Mom, I spilled some coffee but I’ll clean it up.” Oh goodness, Aaron! Where did you spill coffee? “On the stairs. I’ll clean it up!” No, Aaron…….I’ll get it. All the while, I was muttering under my breath about how this is the last thing I needed and why did he have to carry the coffee up himself when he’s so shaky and of all mornings…………
Then I saw the spill, which looked more like a gushing of coffee. It was splattered on several stairs, but one stair in particular was soaked with coffee. Oh Aaron! Look at this mess! Next I saw coffee on the living room floor, so got the Swiffer and mopped that section. I headed for the soppy stairs, with Aaron saying, “I’ll clean it up, Mom!” But I grabbed towels and began the clean-up, while Aaron then said, “Here, I’ll help.” He proceeded to carry a wad of paper towels from the kitchen into the living room and instead of heading for the stairs where I was, he started wiping off the piano. WHAT??!! Sure enough, some coffee had splattered onto the piano and Aaron was working to clean up the brown spots…………….while he stood on the still-wet floor. I went from unhappy to unhappier, all the while muttering about how my nerves couldn’t take much more and of all mornings and please, Aaron, don’t talk right now………..
I continued my shallow thinking as I realized that I would indeed have a bad hair day, no matter what I did to try to improve the mess on my head. The clothes I chose to wear today didn’t help any, nor did the sandals. No time to change all that now. Of all days for me to have a doctor appointment, I moaned to myself. Little annoyances for the remainder of the morning reminded me of my misery. Aaron and I hurried out the door, stopping at the grocery store on our way to meet his group. I had promised him a Cheddar Pasta Salad to take to his group. Of all mornings to need to leave early, I grumbled.
At the deli counter, as we waited to be served, Aaron began to notice all the dishes. He leaned over and oohed and aahed over the Deviled Egg Potato Salad, The Layered Salad, the Fruit Salad, the German sandwiches, the Spaghetti Salad…………and his joy over simple food began to silence my distasteful attitude. He had moved beyond spilled coffee, bad hair, wounded finger, scratchy dog, and hot temps. He noticed the good things before him. As we walked out with not only his Cheddar Pasta Salad, but also a bottle of flavored water and some Skittles, he chattered happily about anything and everything. If I wasn’t listening, I would have missed his observation that the entrance sidewalk at the Warren Theater is, in his words, “…….twinkle stone. Does it have jewelry in it, Mom?”
I had to pause in my heart and smile. As we drove to meet his group, I told him that I was sorry about my attitude that morning. He didn’t say a word, but I know he filed that apology in his mind. I needed to say it and he needed to hear it from his grouchy mother this morning. Later, at Sassy Nails, I sat across from a stranger – another mom – while our toes dried. We talked and she shared how her sister had died of cancer, and how through it all she had blessings to be thankful for. This woman, this mom, this sister, had no idea about how much I needed to hear those words. How easy it is to let the slight troubles of my life ruin my disposition and take my mind off the Lord!
So I have counted my blessings for the rest of the day:
1. The spilled coffee matches the carpet, especially in the dim light.
2. A coffee smell on the stairs beats a dog smell any day.
3. The living room needed to be mopped anyway.
4. My new pink toes hopefully took the doctor’s eyes away from my bad hair.
5. I do have hair.
6. It may be 107 degrees outside, but we have working AC inside.
7. It may be 107 degrees outside, but I don’t have to be outside working.
8. It may be 107 degrees outside, but we have water for our thirsty garden.
9. Our neighbors have to move for various hard reasons, and the man taking pics of their house this morning wasn’t taking pics of our house.
10. I have a faithful God; loving husband and children; and Aaron to remind me of what’s important.
And I have forgiveness – God’s forgiveness – and even Aaron’s forgiveness……..unspoken but there none the less.