Forward with a Few Detours

March 4, 2014
The road was closed a few miles from Sunapee Mountain. As we were approaching a blockade with a detour sign, I hesitated. Suspecting that the detour might not be clearly marked, I wanted to stop and ask the men in yellow jackets for directions. Since they were busy talking, I decided against that and turned right. The road was narrow, hilly, and winding. The asphalt, if there was any, was hardly visible under the sand. The road was long. Too long. I felt eerie. I don’t like detours in places I am not familiar with. I don’t like detours far away from home. I don’t like detours. I was afraid I would get lost. I felt very uneasy driving up and down short but steep hills.
Only when I relaxed after returning to Route 103, I realized that Robert didn’t show any discomfort with the detour.
When he was hardly 2 years old, he did mind when I missed the exit from NJ Route 36 into Main Street. He kicked, he moved back and forth in his car seat trying to get out. He screamed. At first I didn’t understand. But the pattern was clearly visible. From our home we could go to any place without Robert being concerned. But he was outraged and petrified when we missed the proper exit from Route 36 to our home. Later, I noticed that he protested every time I turned into different street, or took a shortcut. Robert really knew his streets well and kept warning us about every wrong turn we made.
A few years later, Robert kicked, attempted to climb out of his car seat, and screamed when on a way from Children’s Hospital, we encountered a detour.
This time I kept talking, “This is a detour. Another way to get home. We are getting home. We are going home in a different way. It is a detour. The road was closed. Another road, will bring us home.” I went on and on, repeating the same sentences many times. I knew that even if Robert didn’t understand me this time, he would gain some ideas about detours which will benefit him in the future. So I went on and on, until as we got back on VFW Parkway. Robert immediately recognized the place and calmed down. I did too, although, I felt obligated to repeat two or three more times, “It was a detour. We took another street and we got back on our way home.” Something like that.
Over the years, we hit a few more detours on our trips. Each one seemed better tolerated by Robert. At some point, he even seemed to enjoy unexpected tours and novel scenery as he felt assured that detours still let him (and me) go forward.

Twice during the time Robert was driven to the Private School, he became, according to the driver, very unruly and got out of his seat. Because of that he had to travel in a special vest. I wonder if his getting out of seat was the consequence of the driver changing his/her route and Robert trying to tell him/her, that it was a big mistake.

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