On Making, Changing, and Honoring Decisions

September 18, 2014
Part 1
This morning, I was planning a trip to an apple orchard. I wanted to leave after 10:30 AM to avoid morning traffic. So Robert and I studied for an hour – place values for decimals and the first lesson from Reasoning and Writing Part B. The lesson mostly reviewed some of the concepts from the part A. After short session we were ready to go. However, before we left the house, I asked Robert where HE would like to go: apple picking, Pleasure Bay, or Boston’s bridges. What I meant, by the last suggestion was a walk along the Charles River and over two bridges to cross from and to Cambridge.
Robert’s answer was unequivocal, “Bridges, bridges.”
“So, you don’t want to go apple picking?” I tried to make sure. (Or, possibly, because I wanted to go apple picking, I attempted to change Robert’s mind in this unsettling way.)
“Apple, apple”, replied Robert.
We were already driving but there was still time to decide which road to take next.
“Where do you want to go, apple picking, Pleasure Bay, or bridges?”
“Pleasure Bay”, was the answer.
And then I understood. Because I kept asking, Robert assumed that the first answer was wrong, so to please me, he kept changing them. By not accepting the first choice, I undermined Robert’s trust in his ability to make correct decisions. I put myself and Robert in an almost impossible position. Either asking or not asking again meant that Robert’s choices were not important. How to recover?
I didn’t know. After a few minutes of driving, I said, “I like to go apple picking because I like to walk among trees and I like apples. I like to go to Bridges, because I like crossing the river on those bridges and walking along the river looking at the other side. I like to go to Pleasure Bay, because I like going along the bay and watching people, airplanes,ships, and birds. I like apple picking, Bridges, and Pleasure Bay. You like apple picking, Bridges, and Pleasure Bay too, but what do you like the best? Where do you want to go today?”
“Bridges!”
And so we went.
Part2
We took our jackets with us. Just in case. When we stopped on Memorial Drive in Cambridge, I asked Robert to take jackets on our walk. He did. But the air was so warm, that I changed my mind. There was no point of carrying our jackets with us on a couple miles long walk. So, I asked Robert to leave jackets in the car. He did. But then a cooler gust of dust reminded me about our last walk. It was cold and windy. Very windy. So I asked Robert to take our jackets from the car. He hesitated, looked at me with sort of silly disbelief, but took the jackets nonetheless.
That was not all. I changed my mind two more times. Robert hesitated even more next time, but not the last time. Maybe, he assumed it was a game. Maybe he just felt pity for a person unable to make his mind. Or maybe, he understood that he was not the only one unable to make decision when so many factors were to be considered.

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