24 Hours Without Me

August 26, 2014
Ten years ago, I flew to Poland for my mother’s funeral. I returned home after 5 days. The next few months were very, very difficult. Robert was very difficult. I thought, he was punishing me for my absence. Maybe he was punishing me for mourning. Maybe I couldn’t deal with my loss in a way that would not affect Robert. Anyway, Robert was very, very difficult. I couldn’t be specific as to what exactly he did. The year remains a blur. But I remember that Jan and I found it necessary to learn how to restrain Robert. I remember that I was asked by behaviorist from private school to sign permission to keep Robert in a tiny room as a next step of restrain. I remember that I dreaded Robert’s return home after school. I remember calling my husband during his job interview begging him to come home. I remember broken bookshelf and floors covered with bear counters, pegs, puzzles, blocks, shapes as Robert kept dumping the boxes of educational materials almost everyday.
I don’t even think, I had will or ability to force Robert to pick up everything, as I did eight years earlier when he kept dumping buckets of Lego blocks on the floor. At that time, Robert’s teacher used overcorrection once and I used it twice, and the habit disappeared. In 2004, it came back, and I don’t think I was able to address it. I really don’t know what my husband, my daughter, and I did to help Robert and us slowly recover from that disaster.
I know however, that for the next ten years, I was afraid to leave the house without Robert. we could travel together. My husband could leave for work out of state, my daughter could leave for college. I couldn’t go anywhere. Jan could take Robert and Amanda skiing and they could stay in a hotel without me. But I was always at home, when Robert was there.
Last week, for the first time in 10 years, I left the house for 24 hours. Of course, Robert had good care. His sister was there to take care of him when dad was at work, Robert went to his day program one day, and the second day Pam, provided 4 hours of interesting activities.
When I came on Thursday evening, Robert didn’t jump excitedly, although a sly smile passed through his face. He had to be asked to give me a hug, which he did. Half a second long. Robert was much more interested in my backpack than in me. He took it from me and immediately started washing my clothes. That is what he always does whenever our family returns home after staying overnight somewhere else.
His restrained welcome was a proof that Robert can survive pretty well without me. I felt relieved and, to some, small degree, liberated.

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1 Comment

  1. Jean

     /  August 29, 2014

    Gaining confidence our children can manage with others is key for the future.


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