Monday, June 2, 2014

What's So Best

I haven’t been doing much writing lately.  Part of it is that I’ve been very busy.  Gary and I traveled to Ft. Worth for Andrea’s graduation, and then to Topeka to watch Andrew in an NHRA race.  But I’ll admit that another reason I haven’t been saying a lot is that Aaron has taken a lot out of me, and of Gary, as well.  He’s been extra grouchy for a few weeks, and so I haven’t had the energy or the desire to sit down and write. 

He came in the room where I do my quiet time early one morning.  “Are you ready for a good day today, Aaron?” I brightly asked. 
“No,” he flatly answered as he turned and walked away.  And that is just how it’s been lately.   It seems that he’s just decided not to have good days. 

Why has he been grouchy?  If only we knew the answer……   Is it medicine related?   One of his new seizure drugs can have irritability as a side effect.  Aaron wrote the book on being irritable, trust me, so I was alarmed when I heard about that possible result of taking this drug. 

Is it seizure related?  He had a seizure episode this past week and since then has been markedly better.  Did the seizures rearrange things in that brain of his and calm him down?  Who knows?

Or is his grouchiness game related?  Since we let him have an old Star Wars game to play again, several weeks ago, his anger episodes have increased.  We can’t help but think it’s partly related to that, but how to get the game back has been an issue.   Then the most amazing thing happened.  When we got back from Topeka, Aaron told Gary that his game wasn’t working right.  Gary sat down to have a look and found that the only thing wrong is that the hologram image in one part of the game was messed up.  The image appears and the game works right, but the image has changed some and most of all…….Aaron can’t see the eyes of the hologram.  To Aaron, this is beyond unacceptable.  If he can’t see the eyes, he refuses to play the game.  He handed the game to Gary when he saw that Gary couldn’t fix it, and that was that.  No more game.  What a tremendous blessing!!

While Aaron was in his prolonged grouchiness he broke some things.  Aaron usually breaks things that are important to him.  In addition to a few items in his room that got banged up, he also broke his watch and his glasses.  The glasses, of course, were the worst.  He’s been wearing an old pair for several weeks as we hope to teach him a lesson.  And he’s not had a watch on his wrist for awhile now.   Will this teach him a lesson?  That’s hard to tell, but we keep trying.  Even with something like autism, we think it’s important to keep trying to reinforce positive behaviors.  And there are some days that I wonder who needs that reinforcement more……Aaron or me.

He was showing improvement last week, slowly, but still had a morning when he was not wanting to go to his day group.  As we pulled up beside his ride in the Quik Trip parking lot, he got out of the van and voiced his anger at me for making him come.  Then he took off for the store instead of getting in the other van.  He walked all the way across the parking lot very slowly, head down and looking as if the weight of the world was on his shoulders.  It was a little funny and a little sad and a lot frustrating.  I have no idea what people all around there thought.  It’s probably good that I don’t know.

Yet that afternoon Aaron bounded in the door after his day group, very excited to tell me about the barbecue in the park that he had gone to that afternoon.  “Mom!  Guess what?  At that grill thing I ate a LOT of hamburgers!!”  I asked him how many he ate and he breathlessly replied, “FIVE!!”  

“Man!!” he continued.  “You can guess I’m stuffed!!”  

And that night, or early morning, he had his seizures and was out of commission for most of that day.  But the next day, Friday, he was happy and was like our old Aaron.  He was bright and funny and wanted to talk a lot.  Even when I went out to the garden for an hour, I looked up to see Aaron coming outside.  The grass was damp, so he just walked to the end of the brick walkway and sat down, where he could still talk and talk to me.  This did my heart as much good as I think it did to Aaron’s.

He had a nice weekend, too, alternating between another game he’s playing and videos he’s watching and going outside and watching taped shows and Wheel of Fortune and even a little racing.  Gary and I also took him to Wal-Mart, where he couldn’t pass up the music display with the buttons that said, “Push”……….because if the button says push, then Aaron will push it, and love every single push.  He also got to pick out a new watch, paid for with his own Christmas money, and is happily wearing it pushed up his arm the way he likes it.  

Aaron’s been watching a movie that I don’t like.  He came into the kitchen on Sunday and found me watching a race clip on my notebook.  He immediately started asking me to watch a clip of his movie, so I suggested that he watch some racing videos….knowing that he wouldn’t want to do that and so I could make my point.  

“You don’t enjoy racing and I don’t enjoy your movie,” I reminded him.

“If I enjoy that,” he asked, “then will you watch my movie?”  
I laughed and he continued.  “Can I bargain you?” he excitedly asked. 

There’s Aaron, expressing himself in that unique way of his.  Like when he saw another Eggland’s commercial.  “Mom, Eggland’s say they have the best eggs.  What’s so best about them?”  And I laughed and nearly forgot to answer his question, put in that awesome way he has.

When I took him to his group on Friday, after working in the garden and having Aaron sit there like a Buddha talking to me across the yard, I was so relieved to see him still in a great mood.  I didn’t even mind that he picked out his Elvis tape to listen to in the van.  It’s not my favorite, but Aaron has been so unhappy lately that he hasn’t even wanted to listen to music.  Very unusual!  So when he wanted music, I would not have said no to Elvis………but I did change CD’s when he left the van.  

After I dropped him off, I drove to the eye doctor’s office.  I had decided to go ahead and order him those new glasses.  It was time.  I know that things may change again, and that I may be doing this same thing several months from now.  Picking up the pieces, repairing the damage if we can, and moving forward.  

It’s what all parents do.  It’s what we do often with Aaron.  We can’t always fix him or fix his situations.  Sometimes it works out for the best, like with the unfixable computer game.  Other times we try to teach a lesson in the brokenness, making him wait and hopefully learn, not knowing if he will learn or not.  But we must try. 

And so I come to my day today.  I was in Wal-Mart when my phone rang and seeing the number, I knew that it was Aaron calling from Barb’s phone at Paradigm.  “Mom!” he said.  “You told me to have a good day and so I am!  Except for that girl’s arm that has a red mark.”  

The girl’s arm with a red mark?

And Aaron told me that he got excited and was just playing……….and I know just what that means.  Aaron’s way of playing when he gets too excited is to whack someone with those big beefy hands of his.  He did that, and the poor girl had a red mark to prove it…….and Aaron had to stop having so much fun. 

Then later he got home and was downstairs talking to me when the doorbell rang.  There stood Miss Rosa, who brings him home, and who had a question for Aaron.  She had just gotten a text asking if Aaron had some keys of Barb’s, so there at our door Aaron pulled Barb’s keys out of his pocket……….keys he was just trying to guard from Victor, he said. 

That’s why Aaron and I just drove to Quik Trip to meet Barb and return her keys.  He also showed us the mandarin orange that was in his pocket.  I really do need to frisk him when he comes home.  

And that’s why Aaron and I were listening once again to Elvis.  “Hey Judy?!” Aaron asked as Elvis belted out Hey Jude.  We got to see the baby bulls in the field, and I had the rare pleasure of Aaron putting his arm around my shoulder.  Things I would have missed if Aaron had just had a perfect day and not tried to guard Barb’s keys.  

Well, that’s the way it is.  I can’t fix Aaron much of the time, though there are areas in which I do try. 

I’m just thankful for the days that I can enjoy Aaron……..for seeing the silver lining on the cloudy days.

That’s what’s so best!

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