Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Right or Wrong

So often Aaron's honesty in his comments can nearly take our breath away............sometimes because we're fighting the desire to speak as honestly with him as he does with us..........or because we're laughing so hard.  He just doesn't seem to "get it."  Or just doesn't care.  It's hard to tell with Aaron.

Aaron likes to read at night before he goes to bed.  It's actually the only time during the day that he will sit down and read a book.  We've tried and tried to get him to read at other times during the day, but in Aaron's rigid world the time for reading is only at night.  He has his bed just right, with pillows here and pillows there..........and always his back scratcher by his side..........don't ask my why.  He will read one of his Handy Answer Books until he gets sleepy.  The other night I walked in to tell him good night and there he was, with his opened Handy Answer Book on his lap............and leaning over with his eyes closed.  Good grief!  He looked like a dead body, honestly, which can be a little shocking to this tired mom at the end of the day.  At any time of day, actually........but I certainly react differently when I'm tired.

I touched him and he stirred, so I said, "Aaron, you need to close your book and go to bed.  You're falling asleep while you're sitting up."  And of course, he had one more small section to read because he just HAD to finish that certain part.  He read it quickly and then packed it up and went to bed.

The next day I told him that he needed to start his bedtime routine earlier.  He has been trying to do this.........trying to start reading earlier so that he can read longer and still go to sleep earlier.  On Saturday evening, during supper, he said, "Mom, you know how you told me to start reading early and then going to sleep?"

Yes, Aaron.  I remember telling you that.

"Well, you're either right or you're wrong."

That was it.  He just had to tell me that I was either right or wrong about that subject.  The jury was still out on this matter, according to Aaron, and he wasn't sure if my advice was working for him or not.  Gary, Andrea, and I had to laugh at how matter-of-fact he was.

Right or wrong.  The end.

The other night he said something that I know all kids would love to say to their parents.  He asked me a certain question about something and as I was thinking of how to answer him, I said, "Well, Aaron, it's hard to explain."

And he said, "Oh come on, Mom!  Just tell me without explaining!" wouldn't that just cut out a lot of MY words and leave more time for Aaron to talk?!

That seems right or wrong to me.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Global Aaron

As I've written before, Aaron has an interest in where people are from based on their skin color or their accents or some other feature that peaks his interest.  For instance, I blogged in the past about the time that he kept telling me about his new driver in his day group - (Where is He From?  Dec 30, 2011).    He was sure that she was African............and then I met her and was sure that she was NOT African.  Turns out she is from Vietnam. His attempt to identify people or languages or looks can be quite funny at times.

Even the movie that he's looking forward to seeing more than any movie in the world right now, Transformers 4, has not escaped his attempt to figure out where some fine details of this fine movie originated from.  Take Unicron, for instance.  One day Aaron was, once again, attempting to describe and define Unicron's facial characteristics.  "Mom, Unicron looks different."

Personally, I don't really care much about Unicron in any way but I know that off and on for the next 14 months we will be having these I may as well ask and get it over with.

How does Unicron look different, Aaron?

"Well, his's not in the smoke way."

I was not anywhere nearer an understanding of Unicron's different looks now than I was before we began this conversation............before AARON began this conversation...........but I just shook my head as if I understood.  Aaron proceeded:  "And Mom, could you tell that Unicron had a beard?"

I was trying to remember exactly what I observed when Aaron was gleefully sharing that Transformers 4 movie trailer with me, and all I could remember was looking at the little numbers that showed how long I was going to have to stand there and endure watching this yet-another movie trailer.

My hesitation at answering didn't phase Aaron one bit.  It never does.  "Mom, what kind of beard do you think Unicron had?"

What kind of beard?  You know, Aaron, I just really don't remember much about that beard.

And he continued:  "You know, that beard on his chin.  It looked like a Mexican beard!"

I am certain that there are many Mexican men whom Aaron has seen that have some sort of unique chin beard that Aaron identifies as being uniquely Mexican.  I am fairly clueless, but Aaron is sure of this fact and so I don't disagree.  I just shake my head in some sort of understanding way that satisfies Aaron and allows us to end this conversation.

Aaron is also fascinated by a Mexican radio station that he has heard.  Every now and then he will walk up to my radio in the kitchen, and without permission he will begin to push the button in order to change the station. I know exactly where he is going with this.  Soon I hear the unmistakable sound of Mexican music, and Aaron laughs and rubs his hands together in excitement.  This occurred the other night.............again..........and Aaron happily asked me if I liked this music and did I understand what they were saying.......or singing.

"Mom, is this a Mexican station?  Or is that a Spanish station?"  This brought on a long discussion about the country of Mexico, but the language they speak is called Spanish.  No, Aaron, the language is not called is Spanish............and we had a little brief history lesson in the midst of the loud Mexican/Spanish music..............with me knowing full well that Aaron wasn't totally listening to me as he stood there rubbing his hands together amidst the sounds of trumpets and maracas.

He loves to identify flags from around the world on our large world map still hanging downstairs in our old schoolroom.  Which reminds me of the time years ago in the day school when Aaron said they were told to draw a flag...............and I looked down in horror to see the flag that Aaron had drawn.............the Nazi flag. We had seen a special on television and had studied this in history in home school and through normal exposures...............Aaron had decided that this flag was very interesting.  Oh my.  Well, it was simple to draw and it was at one time a flag.............but why is Aaron always drawn to the forbidden?  To the unacceptable?  Thus ensued another lesson and afterwards Aaron was more sure than ever that this was indeed a very interesting flag.  Sigh.

Last night Aaron thumped down the stairs and proceeded to tell me about a movie he was watching.  "Mom, this man on there has an accent.  It's either country or continent!"

Did you say country or continent, Aaron?

"Yeah, it's either country or continent.  I don't know which yet."

And later, he thumped down the stairs again to give me an update.  "Mom, I found out he's Paris.  Is that Italian?"

Stifling laughter as I tried to answer this question was indeed difficult.  And slightly confusing, even to me.

Aaron is so global!  I just have a hard time following him!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Aaron's Pockets

Aaron has always had the sharpest eye of anyone I’ve ever known.  He’s also very curious.  I can’t begin to count the number of times we’ve heard him say, “I was just curious……..” and then proceed to tell us or show us what he was just curious about.  His other favorite comment is, “I was just looking.”  And my repeated response to that statement is, “Aaron, you never just look.  You touch, and pick up, and open, and taste……….”  My statement has never, ever made a difference in Aaron’s touching, and picking up, and opening, and tasting. 

Sometimes it’s a good thing that he has an eagle eye.  He has found money in parking lots, or even found wallets, and is very proud to turn these items in to the store where he found them.  We’ve let him keep small amounts of money, and of course that makes him very happy.  Even a penny, to Aaron, is a worthy find that pleases him greatly.  Other finds are not so good.  He’s often come home with someone’s hair band or hair clip that he’s found laying somewhere and stuffed in his pocket.  Yuck!  I never know what he’ll pull out of his pocket on any given day after he comes home from his group.  When he was younger, and attended school in Germany on our military post, he came home with quite an assortment of treasures.  He had a box that held the treasures that I let him keep, so nearly every day after he showed me what he had found and if I let him keep it, off he would trot to his room to deposit his new item in the box.  One day he came home with something that wouldn’t fit into his pocket.  He was pushing a bike!  And I made him push it right back to the dumpster where he found it! 

Then there was the day in second grade that I’ll never forget.  As Aaron walked the short distance to his school, he passed by a set of military quarters that were being repaired and painted.  On this particular day, Aaron was sitting in his reading group and the volunteer mom on that day was reading to this sweet little group…………when out of his pocket Aaron pulled a box cutter.  Yes, a box cutter! He found it on the ground near the building that was being remodeled.  I don’t know the exact sequence of events after that point, but I do know that the mom was calm and the teacher was summoned and the box cutter was taken away and then I received a nice little call from the school principal.  I remember saying, “Aaron did WHAT?!” and then walking to the school towing little Andrew with me as I wondered how long Aaron would be suspended.  However, the staff was very kind and understanding.  Aaron was given a good talking to and had some fear put in his heart – but over time he continued to stuff his pockets full of whatever caught his eye – just never another box cutter.

Golf balls have always been a favorite of his.  Don’t ask me where he’s found all the golf balls over the years, but his nightstand drawer is still totally full of his golf ball acquisitions gathered over the years.  He refuses to part with them so there they stay, safe and useless but of great meaning to Aaron.  Another great favorite of his is ball point pens.  He has dozens of pens from businesses that I know he’s never been to………at least that I know of………..but somehow he finds these pens and into his pocket they go.  Or we’ve come home from stores or from doctor’s offices, and the next thing I know, I find a pen from that place laying on his desk.  He is very quick and very sly about slipping pens into his pocket when we’re standing at a doctor’s office and signing in, or at Great Clips for a hair cut, or at the grocery store…………he’s not choosy about where his pens come from.  I’ve learned to tell him right away to stay away from the pens, no matter where we are………..but sometimes he still slips by my not-so-sharp eyes and comes home with a new pen.  Oh well!

When Aaron eats, he somehow and for some reason must have multiple pieces of silverware.  I always give him a spoon, even if we’re having pizza, but no matter what we eat and no matter what silverware I set out, he will quietly…… quietly as Aaron can be…………edge over to the silverware drawer and pick out several more pieces.  The other night I had given him a fork, a spoon, and a knife……….and as we were getting ready to sit down, I saw Aaron ease open the silverware drawer and quietly slide one more fork, one more knife, and one more spoon into his pocket.  The problem was that he was wearing soft nylon sport shorts with an elastic waste.  He looked hilarious as he tried to walk slowly and quietly across the kitchen floor with his pocket bulging and the silverware softly clanging against his leg………..and his pants starting to slide down from the weight of the hidden silverware.  I hid my face and chuckled, and didn’t let on that I saw him as he sat very gingerly on the chair…………clang, clang…………and attempted to not get pierced by the fork and to remove them without Mom and Dad catching on.  There is no reason to correct him. 
Today Aaron came home from his group and clomped upstairs, where I was vacuuming.  I turned off the vacuum because I knew that what Aaron had to say would not wait, and I did want to find out about his day.  I sat on the bed and he sat in my chair, telling me about watching Men in Black at the theater and eating his large buttered popcorn and getting a refill and not being hungry now and how Men in Black is not his favorite movie and he wished he could have seen Battleship again……………no surprise to any of this.  No surprise, either, when he stuck his hand in his pocket and pulled out his wallet………..and then said, “Oh, here Mom.  I got you a magnet from the theater so you can put it on the frig.”  Out of his pocket came the magnet.  And then, “Oh yeah, I got these, too.”
I turned around to see him pulling out of his bottomless pocket a HUGE wad of napkins.  Oh yes, I forgot to mention that Aaron seems to have a need for multiple napkins at every meal……….but this stack of napkins was really overkill!  Good grief, Aaron!  He had enough napkins for several rows of theater patrons! 

“Mom, what’s wrong with getting some napkins?”

Aaron, nothing is wrong with getting a few napkins.  Getting this massive amount is ridiculous!

“Mom, how many napkins do you get?”

Aaron, I get one or two.

And he asked, “Why?”

Because my pockets are not as deep as yours, Aaron!  That seems to be all he understands anyway!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lessons From the Goose Family

I was driving home after running some errands on a warm morning a few days ago.  It was another windy day, not at all unusual on a spring day – or on any day – in Kansas.  I was driving down a fairly busy two lane road, though at this time of day there was not a huge amount of traffic.  My thoughts were on what I needed to accomplish on this Monday after a very busy weekend.  I had piles of laundry waiting for me at home, as well as cleaning and cooking to do.  I was sorting out the priorities on my to-do list, lost in thought as I drove toward home.  Up ahead, on the side of the road, I noticed some geese walking along.  Their long necks and turning heads were obvious even from a distance away.  Geese are very common here as they enjoy the many neighborhood lakes in the area, or gather in the farmer’s fields and eat whatever it is that geese like to eat out among the growing crops. 

I hardly gave these geese a second thought as I drove toward them, although it did register that it was a little odd for them to be walking beside a road such as this.  As I neared them, I saw why this group of geese was walking where they were without flying away to a safer location.  There were several adult geese and between the two groups of adults there toddled several little goslings.  These young geese were not tiny babies, but were still fluffy with soft down and very much in need of the guidance and protection of their parents.  The adult geese were working to guide their young charges away from the road, for they sensed the danger that lay there.  The baby geese were chirping and looking all around as they followed the direction of the lead adult goose.  The parent goose in the rear was making sure that the babies stayed in line and didn’t wander off into danger.

Since no traffic was behind me, I was able to observe the geese for a minute.  The parents surely weren’t very comfortable with this precarious situation, but they must have had a good reason for leading their precious babies beside this hazardous road.  The baby geese totally trusted their wise parents, even though I imagine they must have wondered where they were headed and why this route was chosen.  Or maybe the babies had strayed into this bad situation and the parents had no choice but to safely lead them out.  The adult geese were diligent in their leading and in their protection of their babies.  They could easily have flown away to their own place of protection, but the love of their babies held them there.  The babies followed their parents, trusting them despite the noise all around them and the threat that was only steps away. 

I had to drive away before I knew if this family of geese made it their destination.  As I drove home, I thought of how similar our lives as believers are to those of the baby geese.  We are in need of guidance as we walk the dangerous path of this world.  It’s so tempting to run off in this direction or toward that temptation, even toward things that seem outwardly pleasing and innocent.  Only God knows the right path that we should take.  The only safe route for us is to follow Him, and we do that by reading our Bibles and spending time talking to Him.  The road beside us may look appealing and desirable, easier to walk on than this bumpy path that God has us upon.  But what does God have to say about that desire that we have?  Is it safe?  Is it one that will bring Him glory?  Or is it full of hidden dangers that will leave me injured or even dead? 

Our responsibility is to follow God, even when we don’t understand the course that He has chosen for us.  The way may be full of loud danger that is close at hand, threatening to destroy us.  We may fear that the trail is too rough and that we can’t handle what may come our way.  Just as the baby geese trusted their parents in the midst of traffic and the uneven ground, we need to trust our Heavenly Father in the midst of the turmoil all around us and the fear within us.  The baby geese had to walk through some scary and rough turf before they could make it to their destination, but they knew they could count on their parents to guide them safely there.  We may have to walk through some tough times, too, but we have a Father Whom we can fully trust.  He has a plan and a reason for the way in which He leads us. 

David knew this concept very well as He ran from Saul and from danger, and had to trust God even when he didn’t understand the way or the reasoning.   I imagine there were times that David felt he had a better plan than God, but he learned to let God be the One in charge.  David learned the hard way that giving in to temptation only brought the danger home and the consequences were costly.  In Psalm 5:8, David said:  “O Lord, lead me in Your righteousness because of my foes; make Your way straight before me.”  Our goal should be to let God do the leading and make our ways straight as we do the following and the trusting.     So let’s follow our Father and fully trust His wise care.   

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Home Again, Home Again

Gary and I had a little get-away this past weekend.  We took a quick overnight trip up to Topeka to see our son, Andrew, at the NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park.  He works on the pit crew for Scott Palmer whenever he has the opportunity between college and other responsibilities.  It was fun and interesting to go and watch him work on the top fuel dragster.  Andrea came home for the night on Friday to stay with Aaron.  Aaron was very excited about this.  He loves it when Gary and I are gone for awhile, and someone else is there with him.  I think he sees it as a new opportunity for the things he loves..........which would be food and talking.  Surely this new person will have new food ideas.  And surely this new person will LOVE hearing about all the things that Aaron LOVES talking about.

Of course, Andrea isn't a new person.  She knows Aaron every bit as well as we do............and she came anyway.  Way to go, Andrea!  She and I were texting while I was in Topeka, and we talked once.  Aaron kept trying to call me or Gary, but it's very hard to hear anything at the race track.  Plus I knew what he wanted to talk about and I knew that it could wait.  Our catching up time would come soon enough...........and it did!  Andrea told me to be ready.  You see, Aaron went to the movies Friday with his group and saw the new movie, Battleship.  It doesn't matter that the review I read was dismal and that the movie had a rating of only 1 1/2 stars.  To Aaron, Battleship is an epic movie............and when Aaron watches an epic movie, we are all treated to a seemingly endless rerun of all its epicness............over and over and over again.

Gary and I pulled into the driveway on Saturday evening and before I was out of the van, Aaron came through the garage door.  Of course, as always, there was no "Hi, Mom!".........or "Did you have a good trip?".............or any other personal comments such as you would expect.  Of course, we don't expect that from Aaron so it's no shock or disappointment to us.   We would actually be shocked if he DID say one of those personal things to us!  So Aaron walked to the van and said, "Mom!  I went to see Battleship!"  Well, let's not waste any time.  We may as well get to the point at hand right away.  After all, Aaron had been saving up his words and I had been saving up my ears.  There was no running away from it now.

As we unloaded the van, greeted big old Great Dane Jackson, and tried to put things away.........Aaron was right there, and the commentary was in full swing.  "Mom, Battleship was a good movie!"   And I asked, "So you liked it, Aaron?"  Of course he answered......."Yeah!  It was a big navy ship!  There were lots of weapons!"   On and on and on Aaron talked, following me as I put things away in the kitchen.  We hadn't been home more than 15 minutes before I was upstairs staring at his computer screen as he showed me two clips from the Battleship movie on YouTube.  He loved the scene where they took the helmet off the alien and  shined a light in his eye, only to find that he wasn't really dead, and he raised up off the table, and he grabbed the man by the throat, and everyone was yelling..............including Aaron..............and leaning over rubbing his hands together.............Aaron was, not the alien.  Oh my.  How soon would Monday come and Aaron would be going to his group?

We have talked.............actually, Aaron has talked and we have mostly all sorts of rehashing of the Battleship movie.  Are the creatures aliens?  Or are the creatures Martians?  What is an alien?  What is a Martian?  Does an alien look like a bear?  Are those soldier guys in the Army or in the Navy or in the Marines?  Why would an alien want sharp teeth?  Would I want to watch Battleship?  When will Battleship be out on DVD?

And then there's the soldier with the leg prosthesis............both legs..............and as Aaron talked about him, I told Aaron that he was a real-life soldier who really had lost his legs in battle.  Aaron doesn't show much politeness, let's say, when he talks about things such as this, so I mean no disrespect when I repeat what Aaron had to say.  He was very intrigued by this soldier who had lost his legs and he was especially interested in him after I told Aaron that he was a real soldier.  Aaron paused in thought for a second and then asked, "So, are those REAL fake legs?"  I answered yes, using the term prosthesis, but Aaron clomped downstairs quickly to tell Gary this amazing news.  He soon clomped right back up the steps to continue his movie review with me and said, "I told Dad that was a REAL man with the FAKE legs!"

Last night at supper, as Aaron chowed down on his second helping of Potato Salad and a chicken thigh..........boneless, the way he likes them.............he lowered his voice and in an almost hushed tone, he said, "Do you know what Andrea said?"  He paused and waited for an answer, so I told him no, that I didn't know what Andrea had said...........and he continued, "Before she left, Andrea told me that it was nice to spend time with me."  He is so touched by these words............and so are we.  Aaron does know when he is loved and these words touch a chord in his heart.  How precious that Andrea said those words to him........and how profound that his heart was touched.  We just never know all that goes on inside our Aaron.

But he does love to talk, and I think Aaron has caught us up on all the news there is to know.........and most of it we really didn't want to know, but I didn't tell Aaron that.  Last night he and I played two games of Skip-Bo and he talked some more about Battleship..............and the genetically altered Rats movie that he's watching now and that I had to go watch a clip of (another story)................and many, many other issues that are of interest to Aaron.  Believe me, only to Aaron.  As I finished cleaning up the table and getting ready to fix the coffee pot for the next morning, Aaron sat on the ottoman in the family room...............talking...........even after I had told him to go on up and get ready for bed.

He asked, "Do you want me to just sit here and talk?"  I had to laugh.  He was so serious and so oblivious to my NOT wanting him to just sit there and talk.  It was after 10:00 and I was all talked out, believe me!  So I told him that even though that would be nice, it really was time to go to bed, for all of us.............and so finally he made his way upstairs to his toothbrush and minty mouthwash and his bed with the covers just the way he likes them in the proper order and his Handy Answer Book that he'll read before he turns his lamp off and writes his going-to-sleep time in his notebook just right and then turns his monitor on for me to hear all night and settles down under his mound of covers with his head on his pillow that he makes sure has the zipper on the correct side...............yes, it's nice to spend time with Aaron.

A little quiet time is nice, too.  Good night, Aaron.  Morning and more talking will come soon enough.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Insecticides

Aaron once again burst in the house today when he came home from his group, and soon I heard him tromping up the stairs to find me.  With Aaron there is never a "hello" or a "hi" and definitely not a "how are you, Mom?"

This is Aaron, as he barges into my bedroom, "Mom!  I went to the mall today!"

And I say, "Hi, Aaron?  How are you?"

To which he mumbles a quick mumbled "Hi," and then hurriedly continues with what he was trying to tell me before I so rudely interrupted him with that very unnecessary "Hi and how are you?"

"Mom, I decided to go to the mall with everyone.  And I got pizza for lunch."

Good, Aaron.  I'm glad you went and glad you got pizza.  Was it good?

"Yes, it was good.  I got a supreme......and it came with a drink and with bread sticks!"

He then told me that he got a Root Beer and that it said it did not have caffeine, so we had a long discussion about caffeine.  But what he was most excited about was this:  "Mom, the lady at the pizza place told me that I could have a free refill!"  And of course, Aaron got the free cats have a climbing gear, as Gary's sister, Sandra, would say?

"And Mom, I got a knife and fork to eat the bread sticks with."  I asked him why he needed a knife and fork for bread sticks, since we always pick those up with our hands.............and in talking to Aaron I realized the reason.  His fingers had pizza on them, and he will not mix up his foods, if at all possible.  I know he really doesn't like his foods touching on his plate, and today he didn't want his pizza fingers to touch his clean, garlic bread sticks.

Oh, Aaron, you are so interesting sometimes.  Many times!

Aaron started to leave the room, but he remembered that I had told him this morning that the exterminators were coming today.  We found a black widow outside last week and I told Aaron about it so that he would be careful.  He's been wanting those bug sprayers to get here!  He turned around before he left the room and said, "Mom!  Did those insecticides come today?"

The insecticides did come, Aaron............except we call them exterminators.

Clean bread sticks because of his knife and fork.............clean bug-free house because of those insecticides that came today.  Life is good!  A little weird, but good!

Lessons From the Storm Clouds

My morning was full of errands that I had run in our summer heat. As I drove home I was noticing some hopeful signs of rain as I glanced up at the sky.  There on the horizon was the tell-tale sign that rain was around us, off in the distance.  Perhaps.  When you've lived in a location long enough you can just tell what the weather may be at times without any definite word from the weather guys.  But this summer has been unusual and disappointing as we've had extreme heat and a severe lack of rain. Was I being too hopeful?  After I had been home for a couple hours, though, the skies were definitely darkening and then I heard the unmistakable sound of thunder. What a relief!  And even though it was still very hot, I decided to sit out on the front porch and revel in the awesome sounds and smells of a good thunderstorm.  It reminded me of sitting on our front porch on Third Street when I was a girl and how I loved feeling close to a summer storm.  Today the lightning flashed a few times and the thunder rumbled.  The wind blew faster and faster, whipping up the dry dust and dirt.  Finally I went inside and smiled as I turned on the radio.  Sure enough, the announcers were in full storm mode as they announced the severe thunderstorm warning, and the mobile units began reporting.  These guys had been quiet for so many weeks and they sounded positively gleeful to be reporting on a good old Kansas storm again.

I went about my cleaning, all the while looking out the windows and waiting for the much needed rain to begin.  I moved some plants off of their plant stands so they wouldn't blow over but left them where they would get the moisture that was surely coming.  I kept looking to the skies and seeing the dark clouds, but I also noticed how the skies to our west were turning light.  Soon I knew what was happening.  This storm was going to miss us.  All the rain was to the east of us and we wouldn't get a drop.  How disappointing to be so close and yet so far!  I knew that many people were receiving the wanted rain, but we were not to be one of those. It was tempting to complain, to sulk, to feel envious of those "lucky" people who got the wonderful rain while we remained barren. 

This incident brought to mind some attitudes that I have fought over the years.  How many times has something good happened to someone else and instead of feeling joyful I find myself battling jealousy?  It's not something that any of us want to admit.  I find it easy to compare myself to others and find myself coming up short.  Why do others seem to be the recipients of so many blessings while in those same areas I feel dry and barren?  This kind of thinking will lead to a shriveled heart instead of a healthy heart that is genuinely able to share in the happiness of others.  Paul reminded us in Romans 12:15 to "Rejoice with those that rejoice and weep with those that weep."  Unfortunately, sometimes it's easier to weep with someone during the sad times than it is to rejoice with them over their good times.  A rejoicing attitude requires an unselfish way of thinking, and this just doesn't come naturally.  It requires a work of the Spirit in our hearts.  Our yearning for the refreshing rain of blessing mustn't become a source of jealousy towards those whose lives seem blessed over and over again.  Gary, unaware of my thoughts, said it very well when he prayed before supper tonight and said, "And Lord, thank you for all the people who got some rain today.  We ask for rain, too, but thank you for sending it to some today."  May I learn to rejoice with others even as the dreary dust may blow around in my life, trusting God to send me some rain when He wills to do so.   

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Chips Mystery is Solved!

A few weeks ago, when we returned home after our trip with Andrea to Fort Worth, she was getting ready to leave for McPherson, where she lives and works now.  Before she left, Aaron asked her if she wanted the Sour Cream and Onion Pringles that he had bought while we were gone.  We were surprised at that offer because Aaron loves Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.  It would be unusual for him to give them away.........or very generous.  Very, very generous in Aaron's case.  When he returned with the chips, she asked him why he was giving them away and he admitted that he didn't like them.  What?!  But he assured us that he didn't like them and so he was happy to give them to Andrea.

He hasn't really been able to describe to us why he all of a sudden doesn't like Sour Cream and Onion Pringles...........until today.  I was outside watering our new growing grass when Aaron got home.  He came across the yard, swinging a Wal-Mart bag.  He told me about his day.........the number 52 Slushie and only one box of candy from Quik Trip...........and then the Pringles from Wal-Mart.  He reached into his Wal-Mart bag and took out one of the two canisters of Pringles that were in the bag.

"See Mom?  I got some Sour Cream and Onion Pringles."  And I said, "But Aaron, I didn't think you liked Sour Cream and Onion Pringles anymore."

"Mom!  I found out why I didn't like the other Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.  It's because they were the bursting flavor!"

Oh, I see..........bursting flavor, huh?

"Yes!  I don't like the bursting flavor ones, but I like these."

And these that he likes are Multi-Grain Sour Cream and Onion Pringles..............which are obviously very different from the bursting flavor Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.

Soon after this conversation, I was in the kitchen getting supper ready when Aaron came in and held the Multi-Grain Pringles up for me to see.  "Mom, these multi-grain Sour Cream and Onion Pringles are better.  They're better than the bursting flavor ones."

He must have seen my confusion because he continued, "The bursting flavor means it has a higher flavor."

Well, of course.  A higher flavor........and that's just not so tasty, is it?

"No, the bursting flavor is more spicy.  I'm glad they're not like that bursting flavor!"

Absolutely!  Bursting flavor is just too much!

After supper, Gary and I were working in the yard and garden.  I was watering more grass when Aaron came outside and walked over to the garden to talk to Gary.............and of course, he wanted to tell Dad all about the multi-grain chips compared to the bursting flavor chips.  That accomplished, he walked over to me and said, "Mom, I really like those Multi-Grain Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.  They're better than the bursting flavor."

Yes, Aaron, I know.

"And Mom, the multi-grain ones are green and they have black dots!  The bursting flavor ones are clear!"

Well, now, there's a clever marketing ploy!  So I tried to explain what the black dots are, but I realized that his descriptions are much more interesting than mine are and so I just hushed.  Aaron went inside for awhile, but returned one more time.  This time, he strode purposefully up to Gary in the garden............and he was carrying a canister of the Multi-Grain Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.  He once again explained to Gary the difference in the multi-grain ones and the bursting flavor ones, and concluded by saying, "And the multi-grain Pringles have polka dots!"

Maybe I'll have time to play a game of Skip-Bo tonight with Aaron...........and maybe, just maybe, I'll get to eat some of those green polka-dotted multi-grain Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.  Who needs plain old bursting flavor ones anyway?  These new ones sound like way more fun!

In Aaron's world they sure are!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day and Cavemen

I got the best surprise for Mother's Day.  We had been helping at a friend's 50th wedding anniversary party, working in the kitchen.  Well, Gary was fishing but Andrea came in from McPherson and came out to the party, where she worked and worked with us in the kitchen.  My sweet, beautiful daughter didn't mind a bit to be washing dishes and doing whatever else needed doing for several hours.  What a blessing!  Then later, when we pulled into our driveway, there was Andrew's truck!  That was my big surprise that everyone knew about except me.  We hadn't seen him for several months, so it was wonderful to give him a big hug and cry on his shoulder.  To top it off, there were beautiful pink roses and funny cards............and Andrea even made sure that Aaron signed a card.

We talked until late that night, catching up, and then they wanted me to decide about what to do the next day.  I chose to grill steaks........well, Gary would do the grilling and then Andrea and I would do the rest.  After church, Gary and I went to Sam's for the steaks and other groceries.  On the way home, my cell phone rang and I saw that it was our home number, which means one thing..........Aaron.  So I answered my phone - "Hi, Aaron."

"Mom, when are you coming home?"  I told him that we were on our way.  I knew exactly what his next comment would be...........and it wouldn't be to wish me a Happy Mother's Day.  I actually knew that it would be a question and sure enough, he asked, "So, what are we eating?"

I told him that we were having steaks with Potato Casserole, Bean Salad, Tossed Salad, Ciabatta Bread, and Strawberry Shortcake.  He seemed fairly unimpressed, but I knew he was happy about this menu because I know Aaron.  I also knew his next comment/question and of course, he delivered:  "Mom, when are we eating?"

I answered that question and there was a very brief pause.  Would he just maybe say something about Mother's Day?

"Mom, I was watching the Science channel.  Do you believe there was such a thing as cavemen?"

Cavemen.  That doesn't even remotely have anything to do with Mother's least that I'm aware of.........maybe a little to do with eating steak..........

Oh, Aaron.  I really wasn't too surprised at this random turn in the conversation, but it did make me chuckle.  And as I talked to Aaron about my belief or unbelief in cavemen, Gary was smiling, too.

"Mom, the cavemen lived in caves and wrote on the walls, and they wore fur animal skins."

Well, Aaron, I believe that people lived in caves and did all those things, yes.

"And they killed a deer.  It was an elk, and they used the antlers for things!"

Aaron, let's talk when I get home.

But he would not hang up because he had more to say about the cavemen.  Oh dear.  Finally, I just had to tell him that I was hanging up and would see him soon.............knowing full well what the majority of the rest of the day would entail.  Cavemen facts........cavemen stories.........cavemen ideas.............cavemen theories...........cavemen anything and everything.  

And yes, we did get our ears full of his talking about cavemen.  He talked about cavemen while Andrea and I fixed dinner, in between snatching a strawberry or asking about what food we were fixing.  He went out to the grill and talked to Gary and Andrew about cavemen.  He talked about cavemen while we ate, whenever he could get a caveman word in here and there.  He talked about cavemen while we sat on the patio and ate our Strawberry Shortcake.

The caveman chatter did come to an end, though.  That's because as he finished cutting some coupons, he watched another program on the Science Channel.  Steven Hawking was interviewed and Aaron was intrigued by him.  Therefore, the evening was all about Steven Hawking..........his brilliance, his sad beliefs about God, his computer, the disease he has.  Steven Hawking was the last thing Aaron was talking about last night, and was what he talked about this morning.  I have seen pictures of Steven Hawking and watched a video of Steven Hawking.  Anyway, you know the routine by now.

I guess cavemen have gone the way of the least for now.  And as I said good night to Aaron  last night, I thanked him for helping to give me a happy Mother's Day.  He just gave a little grunt.  Then I said, "After all, Aaron, you helped to make me a mother."

He gave a laugh at my funny little joke.  I didn't tell him, but he's helped to make me a very interesting and random mother.  A day full of cavemen and Hawking...........I can never predict the way a day with Aaron will go.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Our Priceless Mother

As Mother’s Day fast approaches, my mind naturally wanders back to the beautiful mountains of West Virginia where my sweet mother still lives and where I was raised.  My little mother is now 85 years old and lives in a lovely assisted living center.  Her life is secure and full and happy, even as her memories fade away with each passing week.  We have so much to be thankful for…….thankful that she is mostly healthy; thankful that she is content; thankful that she has loving family who care for her, as well as loving staff and friends; thankful that she still has a sweet spirit and a caring heart.  Yet all of us children know that our mother is drastically different from what she used to be.  It’s happened rather slowly, but when we step back and compare who she is with who she was, it’s hard not to be sad.  Mom wouldn’t want us to be sad, though.  She would want us to make some funny joke and to laugh and to listen to a story that she would tell…………..and to remember the good old days.

Mom and Dad married in 1949, and in August of 1950 their first child was born.  Mary Beth was soon followed by John, Jan, Patty, and Kathryn.  She had four children in five years!  Kathryn was our little caboose, coming along three years after I was born…………a fitting name since Dad was a railroad man.  Times were not easy back then, with Dad working very long hours and on weekends, and Mom keeping babies and home going strong.  How did she make homemade formula, sterilize bottles and nipples, make formula, wash cloth diapers………….and handle all the myriad responsibilities of managing a home without all the modern conveniences that we have now?  On the day she went into labor with me, she was mowing the yard (barefoot, no less) and fixing supper and watching babies and preparing for her parents to arrive to help with the new baby.  No putting her feet up, reading a book, and waiting for the pizza to be delivered.  Not my mom!

Mom is, without doubt, the most amazing woman I have ever known.  As a child, I thought she was tireless and invincible and could absolutely do anything.  But now I realize that she must have had times of exhaustion and doubt and failure.  Maybe it’s good that I didn’t know that then, but I’m thankful that I recognize it now.  I just remember her strong work ethic, her superior organizational skills, her wit and humor, and many other wonderful attributes. 

Mom had a degree in Home Economics from Marshall University and was a natural with cooking, sewing, housekeeping, gardening, and so many of the other skills it took to run a home the way that she did.  I know that all of us kids remember our kitchen table full of rolls, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, and pizza crusts…….all homemade……. waiting to be frozen.  She would freeze individual bags of homemade pizza sauce so that along with the frozen crusts and other ingredients, we could have pizza at the drop of a hat.  And of course, dozens of cookies stashed away in those saved coffee tins in the freezer………..tempting us to run down to the basement and grab one whenever we wanted, blowing our warm breath into that frozen cookie so that each bite would thaw enough to be eaten.  All sorts of cookies………Chocolate Chip, Ranger, Applesauce, Oatmeal, Cinnamon, and of course – Spritz Cookies!  Perfect!    

She was always ready for people to come over because of how organized she was.  Our friends were always welcomed, whether it was on a Sunday after church or after school or for sleeping over during weekends or in the summer.  Mom never seemed to mind a house full of people.  She mothered dozens of college students over the years, inviting them to join our family for dinners and games and great conversation and laughter.  We have many special memories of Sunday dinners with visiting missionaries there or pastors and evangelists…………which meant that Mom got up early to prepare dinner.  And her very clear, firm instructions to us kids were to NOT help ourselves to seconds and to NOT start laughing at the table.  We usually did better at not getting seconds……..not laughing was altogether too hard on most days.  It didn’t take much to set us off and then our misery would start as we tried to keep Mom from seeing our shaking shoulders and red faces.  She had a look that could kill and there were many times that I remember wishing I was dead rather than face her after the company left! 

Holidays were wonderful occasions because of all she did to ensure that they were special and fun.  She cooked and cooked and cooked, it seemed.  There was that full table again, loaded with goodies.  I remember how she would let us take turns cranking the handle of the old food grinder as we would chop cranberries for her delicious Cranberry Salad at Thanksgiving.  I can still hear the pop of those cranberries and our delighted laughter.  There were big cookie sheet pans filled with hamburger on Christmas Eve, and then the wonder of square hamburgers on her homemade square buns.  We had full stockings and gifts under the tree and a special unwrapped big gift from Santa that somehow appeared while we slept………….and that sometimes we would get up and try to sneak a peek at after Mom and Dad went to bed.   

Mom loved snow so much!  Whenever the first snow occurred, Mom would play Christmas music.  It didn’t matter if it was in October…………if we woke up one morning to get ready for school and heard Christmas music, we knew without looking that it had snowed.  She and Dad continued this tradition even after we all left home.  They would call us and tell us to wait a minute, and then we’d hear the Christmas music over the phone and we knew it had snowed.  Or we would call them at our first snow………..all of us hoping that we’d beat them at making that first snow phone call every year.  The first year that she didn’t make a snow call after Dad died was when I knew that she was truly forgetting the past and the traditions of our life were slowly ending. 

Mom didn’t seem fazed by all the tromping of kids in and out of the house at any time of the year.  Whether we were dripping with melting snow, or tracking in mud, or were sweaty and dirty………she seemed to handle it all.  And the pets!  We had too many cats to count, and multiple dogs, and birds, and turtles, and even those little colored chicks at Easter.    Somehow in the midst of it all, she managed to round us up to help with the gardening.  I remember picking beans or corn or tomatoes, then helping prepare fruits and veggies for her to can and freeze.  She also taught us how to clean house and how to change sheets……..the right way!  Even now in her assisted living home, she knows the day that the staff will change her sheets, so she purposely changes her sheets the day before……… that it’s done the right way!  She taught us how to iron.  When we saw the four baskets full of ironing for us four girls, each with one of our names on top, we knew we needed to be about the task of ironing those pillow cases or handkerchiefs or whatever else there was.  And I guarantee that each of us girls remember every step of how she taught us to wash dishes – there was a right order to it and a wrong order, of course!  Mom was particular that way about so many things………she taught us the correct way to set a table and to pass the food and be polite……..and she hoped it would stick.  We still laugh at how a few years ago, at a family dinner with lots of us together, Mom saw that someone had put the rice in one place on their plate and their meat on another.  She cleared her throat and loudly said, “Hey!  The meat goes ON the rice!”  We all snickered and rolled our eyes………behind her back, of course…………and even today here at home if I want something done just so-so, I’ll say, “The meat goes ON the rice!” 

Mom was a beautiful seamstress.  After we went to bed, she would still be downstairs making all of our clothes.  I’ll never forget our pretty matching Easter dresses, or the time she made winter wool skirts and then looked in every store in several states for just the right matching sweaters and knee socks to go with those skirts.  She sewed each of our bridal gowns as well as all the attendant’s gowns for our weddings, and several of her granddaughter’s gowns as well.   After she retired, she decided to take up quilting and ended up making each of us kids a completely hand sewn quilt.  She made quilts for others, too, some of whom didn't have a mother of their own.  She also knitted beautiful Christmas stockings that all of us have as do dozens and dozens of people all over the world…………and even our pets!  Her knitting went with her everywhere, even to Dad’s chemo sessions, where she would knit as she sat with him.  When the nurses would comment on her beautiful stockings, she’d make many of them a stocking, too!  She never wasted a moment to be busy with her hands or to be blessing others. 

After we were all in school, Mom got a job as a school secretary.  Later she became the county School Food Service Director, and when she retired she was overseeing the school lunch programs in thirteen West Virginia counties.  How on earth did she do it?  While working she still managed to keep our family going and taken care of and provided for.  There are countless other stories I could tell about this great woman, but more than what Mom did it’s who she was……and is……that’s most important.

She loved the Lord totally and she imparted the importance of that love to each of us children.  She lived by Biblical principles and it impacted us greatly.  Even on her very busy mornings, after Dad was at work and we kids were eating breakfast, she would read the Our Daily Bread devotional and some scripture to us, and start our day off with prayer.  She always made sure that we were in church even when Dad was at work and couldn't go with us.  We knew we could go to her for advice about anything.  And she was an encourager, not only to us but to so many others.  How many times did she tell me, as I wondered if I would ever get married, “Patty, remember that God gives His best to those that leave the choice with Him.”  She helped those who needed a hand in whatever way she could.  In later years, as she and Dad visited sick and shut-ins, Mom would learn of something that each person liked.  Then she would take that to them.  She would make her Boiled Custard for this one, or cut some of her little miniature roses for that one.  And when Dad was sick with cancer, she was there by his side every step of the way, taking care of him for eight years.

Mom was selfless.  She forged ahead with what needed to be done without any complaining that I ever remember hearing.  She cared for the hurting and the sad and those that were without what they needed and those who had messed up in life.  I don’t remember my mom taking naps or demanding dinners out or wanting a vacation or watching TV or movies.  She worked hard and she didn’t make a big deal about it.  Her joy came from what she could do for us and for others. 

Now as she spends her later years in assisted living, she is still going about there to help others.  She tells us that she feels God has given her a mission there………so she seeks out the ones who are ignored or irritating or lonely, and she talks to them and pats their hands or puts an arm around their shoulders.  Years ago she took care of both her mother-in-law and mother, and she still has a heart to take care of the ones that God has put around her now.  Mom taught us how to live because she lived it………….and she is still living out her faith today in the place where she knows that God has put her. 

Sometimes when I call her, I’m not sure she really knows who I am.  Usually after I mention one of the kid’s names then she’ll seem to catch on.  But I know who she is.  “A godly woman, who can find?”  I have found one……….my mother, Beth King……Mom.  I love you, Mom.  I know we all do.   

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Thank-You!

Sometimes Aaron jerks, as in possible myoclonic jerk seizures.  No, I didn't say that Aaron IS a least not out loud.  OK - just kidding!  But really, he has dropped coffee or other drinks as well as food and whatever else may be in his hand when he has a jerk.  It doesn't seem to happen often, thankfully.

He came home today from his day group and was telling me about his day, about the movie they went to see and about going to the park afterwards.  He's calm and mellow today.  Our conversation was more adult feeling and pleasant.  I love days like this.

He told me that he got popcorn......a large, as always.  Now Paradigm staff may need to correct this, but the story Aaron told me is this:

"Mom, I was carrying my bucket of popcorn.  It was before the movie started.  We were out in the know, outside that theater place.  And I had a jerk and I dropped my popcorn."

He was very matter-of-fact about it as he continued:  "You know, we weren't inside the place where we watch the movie.  We were at that pay aisle place."

Bless his heart - it was very important to him that he set the stage and that I understood exactly where he was.  I assured him that I knew where he meant, and so he went on:  "Well, that theater lady came and she said she would sweep it up.  I told her that I would sweep it up but she said that she would do it."

Aw, Aaron.  He was embarrassed by all this and it makes my heart go out to him.  He felt bad for the theater lady to sweep up his mess that he had made.  Hearing him express that fact just really warmed my heart, and made me also feel sad for Aaron.......sad that he has to deal with all these public issues.

And I want to say thank you to this nice theater lady for sweeping up Aaron's mess.............and thank you to the guys who refilled Aaron's popcorn bucket (large, of course!)............and a huge thank you to all the Paradigm staff who work so patiently and kindly with not only Aaron, but with many other young special needs adults.  I know it can't be easy to keep it all straight and keep yourselves from getting irritated, but we think you do a fabulous job!

Good people need to be recognized, and we're very thankful that God has brought so many into Aaron's life.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mouthwash and Mattresses

For some time now, Aaron has used mouthwash every night before bed.  His dental hygienist suggested this for Aaron, telling us that it would help prevent tartar buildup.  Aaron's dental habits could use some tweaking, let's just could his showering habits, for that matter.  Anyway, I was skeptical that Aaron would come anywhere near a bottle of mouthwash, let alone actually put it in his mouth............but lo and behold, he has used it faithfully for months.  Amazing!

When I got him the first bottle, I stood beside him and instructed him on the mechanics of using mouthwash.  He was full of trepidation as he took his first tiny sip of the suspicious substance.  I encouraged him onward and finally he had the entire amount in his mouth.  The look on his face was priceless!  He was adjusting himself to the minty taste of this weird colored liquid.  I really thought that this first swishing would be his last..........but it wasn't.  He has decided that this miracle mouthwash will keep the hygienist from delivering bad news to Mom at each dental visit, so swish he will!

He has told me when his bottle of mouthwash was running low so that I could buy another one.  He has commented on the shapes of the bottles, the brand of the mouthwash, the taste of the mouthwash............and even confided in me that one night when he had a cold, he got out of bed and swallowed some mouthwash, thinking that it would help his we had another instructional session of the pros and cons of swallowing mouthwash........heavy on the con side...........and I don't believe he has ever drunk mouthwash again.

Last night we were going through our getting-ready-for-bed routine.  Aaron was in his bathroom brushing and swishing.  He had a brand new bottle of mouthwash and I was soon to hear about it.  He charged into our bedroom.   "Mom!!  That new mouthwash is blue!"

Yes, Aaron, it is.  Did you like it?

"Well, it's called Blue Mint."


"It was different!"

I know it's different.  Did you like it?   And he told me that, yes, he liked it..............and he thumped on down the hall to his room.

But not for long.  Into the room he burst again.  "Mom, it's just that this new mouthwash is a weird blue color."  

It is blue, Aaron.

"But my other mouthwash was green."

Yes, mint and blue mint.  Crazy, huh?

Off he went again, satisfied, I hoped.  I was almost done with my own brushing of teeth when he barreled in again.  "Mom!  Can you come in my room and do something?"

Aaron, what is it?  I really want to go to bed.

"There's something wrong with my bed!  I noticed it today."

Aaron had a couple seizures earlier in the day and so I wondered if his covers were messed up.  I went to his room and he said, "It's this part of the bed....over here, on the lamp side."  So I went to the lamp side of the bed and stood there looking down to see whatever it was I was supposed to see.  Aaron was quiet, waiting for me to correct the very obvious problem that wasn't at all very obvious to me.

So, Aaron, what is it?  What's wrong with the bed?  And he leaned down a little and pointed to the end of the mattress, at the rounded corner.  OK.  And the problem is?

"See, Mom?  It's halfway messed up.  The mattress needs to come over this way."

It looked totally fine to me, but I knew better than to try to dissuade him of his firm conviction that the mattress was halfway messed up, so I reached down and gently moved the mattress over.............maybe an eighth of an inch...........maybe.   Aaron was very happy to see this improvement in the position of his halfway messed up mattress.  So was I, believe me.  Simple solutions to Aaron's halfway messed up issues don't always happen!

We hugged good night and I started up the hall, only to have Aaron follow me.  I turned around to nip this in the bud and he said, "Mom, that mouthwash was different."

OK, Aaron...........I know the mouthwash was different but the Blue Mint is good, right?  He agreed.  And your halfway messed up mattress is fixed, right?  He agreed.  So let's go to bed.

Another hug and we parted holding my breath as I fully expected him to return with one more mouthwash update.  But he stayed in his room and settled in his bed to read before closing his book, recording his going-to-sleep time in his notebook by his bed, turning off his light and getting his covers just so-so on his no longer halfway messed up mattress.

And it hit me............he didn't even ask if it was going to rain tonight.  Wow!  Must be the mouthwash!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Do Not Pass!

What a difference a day can make!  We have all experienced how true that statement can be.  We can wake up to dramatic differences in the weather, in how we feel, in our mood, in the news headlines – so many changes in a short time.  It’s certainly true with Aaron, as I’ve pointed out before.  How can he be so happy one day, and the next day be a terrible grouch?  He went from being so cheerful yesterday to being a real meanie today.  It’s as if he’s stuck in perpetual adolescence!  That thought is sobering, to say the least.  

It’s the same old song and I’ve totally lost count of which verse we’re on.  He didn’t want to get off the computer………..he said he was tired…………that he didn’t sleep well………….that no one cares……………that he didn’t want to go to Wal-Mart with Paradigm today……………..that Mom, in particular, doesn’t care.  So I matter-of-factly told him that I had poured his coffee, that his wallet was ready with extra money for Wal-Mart, and generally tried to encourage him with as few words as possible.  Too many words only further aggravate him.  And the more he is aggravated, the more my words may change from being kind and patient to being every bit as grouchy as Aaron is being.  It’s hard to win in this situation, though…………because while too many words aggravate him, too much silence from me only confirms to him that I don’t care, and off we go down that path again. 

It’s quite a balancing act and I never exactly know where we will land.  I can read Aaron very well, but his frustrations are sometimes erratic………..even to Aaron.  Oh, how I wish he could sit down, look me in the eye, and describe how he’s feeling and why!  Just have a good old heart-to-heart with Mom.  That’s unrealistic, though, for me to expect that from Aaron.  I have to reach into his heart without any expectation that he will do likewise with me.  Try to understand, try to resolve, try to defuse, and try not to enable bad behavior.  I don’t feel wise enough for this job some days!  Am I doing all I can?  Am I helping or hurting?  Could I have done things way in the past that would have made today not happen?  But those are defeating thoughts, surely not from God.  I can only capture this moment and ask God for wisdom……….and a slow, deliberate tongue that doesn’t speak what I am sometimes thinking.  Do I always succeed?  Absolutely not!  But the only moment that I have to try to do right is this very moment and so this moment is what I concentrate on now. 

I went to the kitchen and without saying a word, I got out the celery and peanut butter.  Aaron watched closely while pretending not to care.  Yet I could see that he was calming down, relaxing, talking softer………….all the while wondering what Mom was doing.  I washed the celery pieces and spread the peanut butter on each one, and then set it on the table for Aaron to eat.  He didn’t thank me verbally, but I know he thanked me deep inside that amazing brain of his.  I left him to his happy crunching as I finished getting ready, and later we got into the van for our drive to meet Cody, his Paradigm day group staff.  Aaron was mostly quiet, but as we waited for Cody to come, Aaron noticed my new key chain…………..a cute little sparkly shoe.  Aaron notices so many little details that most of us miss.  Does he notice how much we care?  Does he relate celery and peanut butter to my love for him?  I don’t really know.  He will probably never be able to tell me that.  But I know and God knows, and that’s what matters the most. 

On the way home, I passed a big semi-truck full of huge rolls of sod.  Two cars were behind this truck as he drove very slowly down the road.  The second car was easing out, seeing if he could pass, in a hurry to get around this impediment that was slowing down his progress.  But the car quickly changed his mind and jerked back into his lane as he saw that coming toward him was another huge truck.  He would have been in worse shape if he had passed the truck that was slowing him down.  Better to just be patient and take his time, arriving safely at his destination.  I am sometimes like that car, wanting to hurry around Aaron’s behaviors and not deal with him and how his attitudes can change my day and alter my mood…………..not for the better.  Yet I have a choice to make.  I can slow down and deal with the issues as best I know how at the moment, allowing God to give me His grace to handle the frustrations that Aaron brings.  We stand a far better chance at arriving at the place that we both really want to be, a place of love and understanding.  Or I can barrel around the trying moment, attempting to hurry through it out of sheer impatience and anger…………..but if I do that, I know I’ll have a head-on encounter with a greater trouble.  I’ll damage Aaron and I’ll be acting in sin, which will also damage me and hurt my relationship with God. 

I wish I could say that I have always done that…………..slowed down and reacted wisely.  No, I surely haven’t done either, more times than I care to say.   For every meltdown that Aaron has, I have the temptation to be angry…………..and I sometimes am just that.  But the impact of that anger is more hurtful than just staying behind the situation and driving slowly and choosing my words wisely.  The moment will pass………… always does……………and Aaron moves quickly on to the next conversation and the next interest and the next meal………whatever………..and I ride along with him, praying to arrive safely at the end of the day – with one of his side way hugs and a quick good-night and one last conversation about whether it will rain tonight. 

After all, there are some things that NEVER change!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Watching Grass Grow

We have some shady areas in our front yard where we have a very hard time getting grass to grow.  Over the weekend, Gary spread some grass seed mix there.  Of course, this did not escape the attention of our ever observant Aaron.  This morning Aaron slipped out the front door to see if the mulch was wet, and to see what the temperature was on this cloudy, windy day.

Soon I heard the familiar thump, thump, thump as he hurried up the stairs.  Into my room he strode as he said, "Mom!  I opened the front door to see if the grass has grown!  It's still white dots."

I guess it does look like white dots, Aaron.  It takes awhile for it go grow.

"Well, when will it grow?"  And I told him again that it would take some time for us to see the grass grow from little white dots.  The seed has to be watered, and so forth.

And he asked, "What will it look like?  Will it be huge grass?"  So I asked him what he meant by "huge grass" as I envisioned living on a grassy African plain.

And he answered, "Will it be huge grass or normal grass?"

I assured him that we would have normal grass.........still wondering exactly what huge grass is, but Aaron had moved on.

He went back outside one more time to check the temperature.  I guess the first time he was distracted by the white dots in the dirt that haven't grown into huge grass yet, or even normal grass.

Back upstairs he thumped.  "Mom!  I looked up close at the grass seed.  It looks like oatmeal!  Is that oatmeal seeds?"

No, Aaron, I am sure that your dad did not plant oatmeal seeds.  Interesting concept...........except imagine the mess of oatmeal when it rained.

Later, when I came home after dropping Aaron off and running some errands, there I was peering down at the white dots on the ground.  You know, that mixture really does resemble oatmeal!  I smile and just shake my head once more at Aaron's fascinating descriptions.

Nope, life is not dull with Aaron around.  He causes us to pause and take a second look at so many things.......things that normally we would just hurry by and not notice.  And I have a feeling that we'll be having more grass seed/white dot/oatmeal-in-the-front-yard discussions as we wait and watch the grass grow.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Super Moon!

I had been telling Aaron for several days about the Super Moon that was coming.  He was matter-of-fact about it, but not excited.  Now if I had wanted to talk about Transformers 4............there would have been great enthusiasm on his part.  Not so much the Super Moon, though.  You never know with Aaron.

Andrea was home for the night.  After supper, she and I sat on the front porch and talked for a long time.  It was nearly dark when we decided to go inside, but first we checked the sky for that Super Moon.  There it was, peeking through the trees.  It looked bright and large, and, well.......super!  So we decided to hop in her car and drive down the road for a better view.  And we also decided to let Aaron in on our plan and see if he wanted to go, too.

I went up to his bedroom, where he was immersed in a computer game.  "Aaron, do you want to go on a drive with us?  We're going to see the Super Moon!"

"OK!" he answered.  He always wants to go for a ride.  He got on his socks and shoes, and climbed in the back of Andrea's car.  It didn't take us long to see the unimpeded view of this beautiful moon.  I exclaimed, "Hey, Aaron, look!  There's the Super Moon!"  

"Uh-huh,"  he said.  That's all?  Just "uh-huh?"

We drove on down the road for about a mile, then pulled into a parking lot where we could sit for a minute and enjoy the gorgeous view.  Andrea and I were both making comments about this pretty sight, but Aaron was very uninvolved and seemingly uninterested.  On the other hand,  I knew that if we said something about going to Sonic, then he would have been very alert and happy.

We drove on home, taking time to drive around our circle for one more view of this unique Super Moon.  All the while, I was making comments about it's beauty and it's size and how special this was.  When we got home, Aaron hopped out of the car and hurried back inside the house and up to his room.  Gary, Andrea, and I stood out in the driveway enjoying the moon as it rose higher in the night sky.  Honestly, it looked like a pretty normal full moon to us at this point, but it still was so pretty and we were happy to have a clear sky so that we could enjoy it.  But not Aaron.  He was done.

We've learned over the years that sometimes Aaron doesn't show great interest in or enthusiasm for some of the events we plan or the things we show him.  It can be a little disappointing to us, but we know Aaron and we know that his flat voice and seeming disinterest is just a part of who he is.  Only a couple of days earlier, he had been thrilled to find the toad outside.  But tonight, it seemed that the Super Moon was a let down.

It wasn't long, however, before he came charging into the kitchen and exclaimed, "Mom!  That Super Moon was neat!"

Really, Aaron?  You liked the Super Moon?

"Yeah!  And I think the sun was behind the moon."

So why do you think the sun was behind the moon?

"Well, it was bright and the moon was green!"

Green.  The moon was green.

We talked about why the sun wasn't behind the moon, but I didn't want to damper his enthusiasm by saying much about the green moon.  I have no idea why he thought the moon was green.  But Aaron was now very excited about the Super Moon, maybe because it looked green to him.  Who knows?

Aaron is always processing what he sees and what he hears and what he experiences.  He takes mental pictures and then likes to recount what he has seen or done or tasted or read or........   His brain is never still and he is rarely without an opinion or an observation.  Even when he shows a flat affect to something, he may later talk and talk about it........surprisingly so, at times.  Maybe he can't express himself quite like we do, but he has recorded so much in that brain of his!  Always measuring and calculating and wondering and reasoning.

So now he has recorded his night of seeing the Super Moon...........the neat Super Moon..........the neat GREEN Super Moon!  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Smoothing Milkshake

When Aaron comes home from his day group, around the time I'm fixing supper, he usually spends some time telling me about his day.  Today his group went to the zoo and he was all abuzz over the crowds of kids there.  "Mom, were they on a vacation from school?  Is that why they were at the zoo?"  He told me about the long lines as they waited to get in the zoo, and all the kids, and all the teachers and well as talk of monkeys and giraffes and the bears that played with a ball and so forth and so on.

I usually try to find out what Aaron has spent his money on, and instruct him on how to make better food choices, and encourage him not to give all his leftover money to his good friend, Rosie.  "Aaron, did you give Rosie any money today?"  And he recently answered, "No, I didn't give Rosie any money.  I bought her a drink."  Then I tell him that this is nearly the same as giving her money, and that Rosie's mother doesn't want Aaron giving her money or buying her food, and all the while I know that he'll be doing it all over again tomorrow.  But we still try to get the point across, hoping that someday it will register.  Today he said, "Mom, I didn't want to give Rosie any money I told her that I didn't have any money, but I really did."  Therefore, the lesson today was on lying.  Even with good intentions, Aaron, you really told a lie.  And he asked, "So what did you want me to do?"  And I told him I wanted him to tell the truth, but still not give Rosie money.  Tomorrow is another day, another opportunity for Aaron to be honest but firm as he handles this dilemma he created with Rosie, and another day for us to be highly surprised if he remembers the lesson......or cares to remember the lesson.

As we talk about what Aaron spent his money on during his day, we nearly always talk about the food he has purchased or the food that was given to him at a day group party, etc.  On Tuesdays his group often goes to Wal-Mart.  Aaron likes Cheddar Pasta Salad, or sometimes he'll get a sub.  That's a much better choice than boxes of candy or boxes of rolls, so we try to reinforce those positive decisions.  Remember when I wrote about him going to Subway and asking for white mustard?  Yesterday he told me about his Cheddar Pasta Salad (which has a mayonnaise dressing) and he said, "I tried to eat that Cheddar Pasta Salad out in the sun and it became nasty.  You know - that mustard.  Mustard shouldn't be in the sun."  I agreed, but told him that it was mayonnaise.........and he agreed..........even as I knew that for some reason, his brain has decided that mayonnaise is really white mustard.  Whatever.

He told Gary and I, "You know at Wal-Mart, where I get the Cheddar Pasta Salad..............they know me."  We gave each other that knowing and somewhat fearful look as Aaron kept on talking, and we were stuck back there on the fact that they know Aaron at the Wal-Mart deli counter.  We hope that it's a knowledge based on the frequency of his visits there..........not knowledge based on his actions.  But Aaron is - well- unique.......and so we are sure that part of the deli employee's knowledge of Aaron is based on that uniqueness.  We can only imagine.

Aaron told us that when he walked up to the counter, before he could say anything, the worker asked him if he wanted a Cheddar Pasta Salad.  Then Aaron added: "If they keep trying to know me, maybe they'll try to give me my stuff for free!"  And he laughed at that thought, but I fully expect him to someday ask the worker at the deli counter if, since they are trying to know him, he can have his Cheddar Pasta Salad for free!  I hope they have a sense of humor and laugh.  And don't call security.

Today after going to zoo, his group went to Sonic.  Aaron got some chocolate milk shake concoction, to hear him tell it, and I do believe he did because half of it looked like it was on his shorts and shirt.  He pointed it out to me (like he had to?) and said, "Mom, look at where I spilled milkshake on me.  Every time the van turned at those turn sites, the milkshake smoothed out of the cup onto my pants!"

Hmmmm.........OK. A milkshake smoothing out of your cup really does cause a mess, huh?  Nothing worse than a milkshake smoothing out of a cup, let me tell you!  And those turn sites.......just plain dangerous for milkshake drinkers!

We're always telling him to be careful about how he eats and drips and I have to wonder if he just told me a smooth story.

Tomorrow, by the way, is popcorn at the theater.  Full of butter that we tell him not to get because he doesn't need it but he always does get it...........and he shares with Rosie or gives her the second bucket, his refill.

See how well I know Aaron........without even trying!