Robert! Robert!! Robert!!!

Since this is my 100th post, I have given myself permission to restate the reasons why I am writing this blog.  I want to understand Robert. Who he is, how he learns,  how he thinks, and how he interacts with his environment. I want others to understand Robert, or at least try. Robert doesn’t explain himself. That is  why he  gets  into trouble even when he means well and when he  is 100 percent right.

The day was 24th, the month was December, the year was, the year …. I don’t remember.  It could be 2002, 2003, or 2004. The year is not important. At least not  in this story. The time of the day was a late evening.  Maybe eight or nine.  The Christmas Eve supper with 12 dishes not counting deserts was over. The presents were distributed, according to Polish customs, soon after the supper.  Now Robert’s three cousins were contemplating their presents – clothes and electronic gadgets.  Aunt and Uncle sang Polish Carols while Amanda accompanied them on the piano.  Robert’s father was serving hot tea and coffee to fight off drowsiness, a consequence of overeating.  Robert couldn’t find place for himself. .  He carried a pile after pile of dirty  dishes to the kitchen but refused to be involved in the impossible task of placing them  all in a  dishwasher. He knew his limits.

He walked around from the kitchen, to the dining room, from the dinning room to the living room, and vice versa…  There was  nothing for him to do. He was not  interested in his presents. After all, they were already unwrapped. He could not talk with his cousins. He could not sing with his Aunt and Uncle. But he didn’t want to go to the den to watch TV either. He wanted to stay with all the members of his  family. Except he did not know HOW TO BE with the family. What was he supposed to do?  Where should he sit?  Next to whom?  He couldn’t figure out what was his role in this situation. So he wandered through all the rooms maybe wondering how to attach himself to something or… somebody.

I looked at Robert from time to time, but did not help him to define his role in a house changed by holiday’s customs and guests.  I did not know how to help.  Besides, I was busy picking up wrapping papers from the floor.

As I was folding empty boxes, I heard, “Robert don’t!” The oldest cousin warned Robert.

“No, Robert, no! ” followed the middle one.

“Stop it , Robert!.” joined the youngest brother.

I looked up.  Robert was  moving the piano away from the wall, while Amanda was still playing. That was such a senseless, mean thing to do! The three cousins and I rushed to avert the disaster which we all had envisioned.

Before we reached the piano, Robert had already bent down and got up.  In his left hand he was holding three white envelops.

“Ah” sighed the three cousin together. Ah, sighed I.

“Thank You Robert”,  said one cousin after another. Each of the them opened his envelope. The good American cash, thoughtful present from grandma, was still there.

I don’t know when the envelopes fell behind the piano.  I don’t know how my continuously  moving son was able to notice that fact.

What I know, however, is that because Robert doesn’t have words, his actions are frequently misinterpreted.  That evening, we all, in the end, understood reasons for moving the piano. But often, Robert is stopped from completing his tasks, because the people around think it is wrong , senseless, or dangerous.  When that happens Robert’s motives never come to light.

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1 Comment

  1. kelly riggle

     /  January 23, 2013

    Mrs. Hrabowski, this is Kelly. I don’t know what write other than your insight always leads me to good places. Thank you for sharing this story. Robert is an amazing person. You are his mom and you do such a good job.


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