Exchanging Gifts. Sort Of.

For as long as I can remember, Robert had problems with giving or even lending his things to others. For instance, it was almost impossible for him to lend a movie to anybody. He expressed distress by screaming and tried to reclaim his property with all his might. I believe that his actions were caused by his conviction that the things should stay in their proper places and the proper place for the tapes or DVDs was on one of the shelves in our home. At the same time, Robert also had hard time accepting that our friends left something in our home. Our friends could bring cakes and we could all enjoy their taste, but if anything was left, Robert made sure the friends took it back.
Last Saturday, Arthur, Robert’s friend with an affinity for calendars, stopped by with his mother, to pick up a few calendars, compliments of a few non-profit organizations, I saved for him. Robert wasn’t exactly sure what was going on. He picked up all the calendars but when asked to give them back to Arthur, he readily complied. Then he picked them again and return them again. He noticed a different calendar in the pile of workbooks and, assured by me that this one was really his, he took it to his bedroom. Just in case.
Not much longer after Arthur left with a few calendars, our friends stopped by. They brought a box of cut-up mangoes. Robert joined us for a piece of a cake but as soon as he finished eating frosting, he ran to his bedroom and brought… a calendar. He offered it to our guests. It looked as if a new rule was forming in Robert’s mind, ” All the guests should be given calendars. ”
Nonetheless, Robert was clearly relieved when I told him that this was his calendar and he could keep it in his room.
A couple of hours later, as the guests were leaving WITHOUT the box containing the last three pieces of mango, Robert again attempted to return the box to them. When they told him that it was a gift for us, Robert smiled. He smiled not because he liked mangoes. He had always avoided eating them in the past. He smiled, I believe, because just this moment the idea of exchanging gifts without any formal reason such as, for instance, birthday, struck him as a very pleasant one indeed.

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