Against Better Judgement

July 22, 2014

When Robert was seven or eight, he unexpectedly threw tantrum in the Museum of Science. (It was not his first visit there, but the first tantrum in that place.) He spread himself on the floor and screamed. Because I didn’t know what caused this attack of protests, I didn’t know what to do, but leave. And so we did. My husband, not without difficulties, carried Robert to a car.
At home, my husband and I decided not only to visit the museum next weekend, but to buy family membership.
Our reasons:
1. We didn’t know what caused Robert’s tantrum. Only by going back we could observe and find some clues as to the reasons.
2. We decided to start with very short visits, and leave as soon as we would sense discomfort on Robert’s part.
3. Tickets were too expensive for visits that might last only 30 minutes or less. Much less. So the only choice was to buy membership and don’t pay for tickets on every visit.
We did return many times, but we didn’t find out what caused Robert’s tantrum. He simply didn’t have another one.
So, I still don’t know why he had a tantrum on that day.

Many times in the past years, I was afraid to leave home with Robert when he was in “distress”.
I am not sure if “distress” is the appropriate word to describe those symptoms/behaviors that were hard to deal with – making loud noises, hitting his own ears or cheeks, or jumping in place. Those behaviors were difficult to deal with when they happened at home, but in the community they seemed to be much harder to manage.
One of the assumption I made was that Robert’s behavior in the community would get much worse than it was at home.
But to my surprise, very often when we went out – to the park, museum, swimming pool, or for horse back riding lesson those symptoms of distress either disappeared completely or changed into just a slight anxiety, still observable but not bothersome.
I wondered many times what caused that improvement in behavior. I wondered, because understanding the reason behind it, would also shed the light on causes of Robert’s prior “distress”. Was Robert simply bored at home? Was he, as every bored person loosing his own image? Did the community activities allow him to regain the sense of self? I am doing something, ergo, I am somebody. I am among other people, thus I am a person. Maybe this, maybe something completely different was behind that improvement. Whatever it was, I am glad that against my better judgement I kept taking Robert out, and gave him a chance to find himself. At least to a point.

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