The only thing that Robert disliked more than throwing old and broken stuff  away was buying new items.  He didn’t mind going to the store and trying on new shoes, but he would not allow us to take them to the cash register, pay for them, and bring them home.  Since we (the parents) didn’t feel we were able to handle major tantrum at the shoe store, we developed two stops shopping.  First, we would go to the store with Robert to find a right pair of shoes but refrained from buying it.  Then, we would return without Robert and purchase that pair.

Now, we just had to convince Robert to wear these shoes.


We knew that persuading Robert to wear the new shoes  would be a major challenge so we  waited until the weekend to deal with the problem. On Saturdays, Robert used to go for a long walk at Blue Hills and then to his favorite Outback Restaurant.  So making this outing contingent upon wearing a new pair of shoes seemed like a good idea.  If he wanted to go for a walk he would have to put on a new pair of shoes.  Robert complied.  He put on a new pair and then immediately took it off returning to the old one. “No walk.” I said.  Robert took the old shoes off  but was clearly in distress.  He was getting more and more upset.  He made a series of heartbreaking noises, and those sounds  melted both my husband’s heart and his resolve.  He wanted to give up. Robert sensed his father’s weakness and quickly put on old shoes again.  We already had struggled for 40 minutes or more, and now, my husband’s hesitations convinced Robert that his chances for winning this battle increased significantly.

I have to say.  I was mad.  My husband and I talked about this before and we both decided that we had to be firm. I knew it would be difficult  and now  I felt betrayed. My ally was changing his position in the midst of the fight.  Discussing the situation at this moment would be disastrous. We couldn’t show that we disagreed with each other. I felt that we couldn’t back off either.  I took a deep breath and relatively calmly persuaded my husband to leave it to me. I asked him to go to his computer and wait until Robert is ready.   Jan withdrew to his office.  That didn’t make Robert happy.  He already knew that his dad was easier to convince (manipulate). So without him Robert was even more distressed, sad, and mad.  He put his old shoes yet again.”No walk.” He took them off just to put them on  again. “No walk.”  He took them off.  Next, he brought the pair of his mountain hiking shoes.  “No walk” .  Then he brought one old, one new shoe.  “No walk”  He was negotiating with me by trying to find a middle ground. He was furious that I didn’t accept any of the suggestions he was making.  When I think about this today I feel that it was a very funny event. Yet at that time it was a real struggle. It lasted over 2 full hours.  Finally, Robert gave up.  He put on his new shoes and his father took him for a walk and to Outback.

During this walk Robert felt defeated and was not happy about that.  From time to time during the walk, he let Jan know, that it was not his choice to part with the shoes which seemed to be as significant and important to Robert  as parts of his own body. Every few steps he  made   sounds expressing his suffering.  Outback, however,  helped to cheer him a little.

But the next day and every day after that he didn’t have any problems with wearing these shoes.

I have to add that the shoes were comfortable, fitting Robert better than the old pair.

Even more importantly, from that time on, five minutes sufficed to convince Robert to wear any new pair of shoes.

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