Weekend in Botanical Gardens in New York City

April 27, 2014
April 19, 2014, was the first sunny Saturday in New York City. That fact was not lost on New Yorkers and the tourists. In throngs they arrived at Brooklyn Botanical Garden hungry for all kinds of green and a few splashes of other spring colors. Four of us: Robert, his grandmother, and we, his parents, tried to do our best to get to this green and leafy place too. And we did.
I thought it would be a good idea to separate. Jan and his mother like to stop, admire, and take pictures. Robert likes to walk around in clearly visible trails. So, he and I wandered into Japanese section and walked around a pond. The path was narrow often forcing us to stop and let groups of people pass by. At one point Robert didn’t want to follow me but stopped and by stretching his arm and repeating, “Here, here, here”, expressed his wish to use another path. I asked him to follow me so we could find his dad and grandma. He did. Hundred or more feet later I realized that we were on the same circular trail again. Robert figured it out before and attempted to alert me to that fact but I dismissed his efforts without giving them any thought. He didn’t want to argue with me. Soon, we found each other, not without the help of cell phones, and decided to walk together. It was a good exercise for Robert’s shared (joint) attention. As his grandmother kept stopping to admire all sorts of tulips and tree blossoms, he kept stopping too and, well, looking at the plants. I didn’t look at plants. I watched Robert to make sure he doesn’t disappear. I noticed that he was adjusting his steps to remain close to our group. He waited patiently for his dad to take pictures. He didn’t bump into anybody but often made a way for others. Moreover, despite huge crowd of people, Robert seemed to enjoy that excursion a lot.
On Sunday morning, we dared to visit the New York Botanical Garden in Bronx. There were no many species of trees blooming there. Even some magnolia held off on releasing their blossoms. But orchids were in a full bloom in the special exhibition. So we went to see them.
It was yet another exercise for Robert to adjust to the pace of other visitors. It was an exercise in waiting for other members of our group before deciding if he should turn right or left. It was an exercise in waiting until other people took the pictures so not to get into their frames. It was an exercise in waiting for his father to take picture amid many passers-by in front of his camera. It was an exercise in joint attention, by looking at everything grandma was looking at. It was a great exercise not only in staying together by in BEING A PART OF A GROUP.
I cherished the fact, that a part of the show led us up the stairs to presentation, with drawings and real plants, of different layers of the rain forest. Although we previously visited “rain forest” in Cleveland, OH, and we read about it, this was the simplest, thus easiest to digest, presentation he had encountered so far.

I cannot tell to what degree Robert enjoyed these two trips. He is more mature now, and doesn’t express his happiness by bouncing excitedly, as he used to when he was three or five years old. He still bounces, but he has already learned to limit this way of expressing himself.
Is that a good development? I am not sure.

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