More than Hiccups

August 12, 2016

It has never occurred to me that Robert might lose the skills  had already acquired. It is not that I believed that it would not happen.  It is just that I didn’t think about it at all  and thus I was not prepared for set backs.  When I write, “skill” I also mean ability to behave properly in different settings and changed circumstances.

When Robert’s father, Jan worked for three years in California, Robert accepted his absence and the rhythm of our trips to Boston or Providence Airports to pick up dad late at night and drive him there early in the morning.  Lately, however, Robert reacts with great anxiety when dad disappears from his view in places outside our home.  If dad goes to the restroom in the restaurant, the desperate call, “Dad, dad, dad”  follows dad’s every steps. When on a way from the ski slopes to the lodge, dad left Robert with ski instructors and turned toward the closely parked car to put skis in the trunk, Robert’s desperate, “Dad, dad, dad”  could be heard not only in the lodge but on the mountain peak, at least at the lower, South Peak of Sunapee Mountain.

In the last few years, Robert went with us to movies and always behaved appropriately and predictably.  Yes, he had to have something to munch on like M&Ms or Swedish Fish.  He had to make one trip to the restroom and if the movie was very long and scary, two trips, but that was all.  However, during our last three trips to the theater, Robert’s behavior became impossible to manage.  Somewhere in the middle of the movie he loudly demanded, “Home, home, home”.  But, when I got up to leave the theater Robert equally loudly protested, “No, no, no” only to call, “home, home, home” a few minutes later. This vocal pattern repeated itself many times.  Had he been still small, I would just pick him up and carry out of the theater.  But he is not small.  He is 24 years old man.  The only way to mitigate slightly the frequency and loudness of his repetitions was to reassure him that we would go home after the movie.

Six years ago, we drove to California and Oregon.  On the way we stopped at many hotels including those that didn’t have pools.  The one in Yellowstone National Park didn’t even have TV set.  (Although it had a wonderful view of the sky from the upper deck.) Robert didn’t mind.  Night after night we unpacked, slept, packed again and drove.  I don’t  remember even one moment of discomfort.  That is why  we were completely surprised when during our last trip to White Mountains, Robert didn’t want to stay the second night in the hotel. When the second evening approached, Robert went for the evening walk, ate dinner – take out from local restaurant -, went to the hotel pool and then started packing for home.  We were too tired to drive.  With difficulties we convinced him to stay the night in the hotel, but even as he was falling asleep he kept repeating louder or softer, “Home, home, home.”

Are those changes a result of never clearly articulated anxiety?  Is his anxiety caused by the development of understanding that the world is a dangerous place.  Is it possible that now, Robert wants to keep an eye on his father as a way of preventing him from going back to West Coast?  Does now, he understands (or feels) more the danger lurking from movie screens, and wants to assure that there is still option of going home?  Maybe the problem with staying in hotels comes from the fact that by usually staying in a hotel for just one night doing our trips to mountains, we taught Robert that one night is the limit of staying outside the home.

I don’t know what caused those changes in behaviors and I know even less about how to remedy them.

Through Time and Space with Horizon Reading to Learn

August 8, 2016

Herman the Fly, Linda and her sister Cathy, Tom and Eric, kangaroo Toby, and finally Edna and her friend Carla led Robert all over the world, into the past and the future mixing reality with a pinch of fantasy.

Herman the Fly was Robert’s guide during trips from East Coast to West Coast and back.  Herman’s experiences in the airplane came handy when Robert flew with me from Boston to San Francisco and back to Boston. Herman was the first character to cross over Pacific Ocean on the flight to Japan and Atlantic ocean on a flight from Italy back to New York.

Soon Linda and Cathy also crossed Pacific, but on the cruise ship  and  with a short detour to a desert island following the sinking of their ship.

Tom and Eric used the time machine to visit the  past and the future often witnessing important events  and thus giving Robert opportunity to to travel up and down time lines which listed years of San Francisco earthquake, Columbus discovery, United States Independence and …. Robert’s birthday.

Kangaroo Toby traveled unwillingly from Australia to Canada but soon he returned happily to his part of Outback.  Taken away from his mob by crooks he befriended a Peacock from India who provided important information in  regards to the trip and events. .

Edna and Carla escaped being swallowed by giant whirlpool somewhere in Bermuda Triangle only to unexplainably end up for a few days or a few hours in the land of dinosaurs.

I am not sure what concept of space and time those stories help Robert to develop (create?) I am not sure if by reading, looking on the maps of the World, and assigning dates to specific events on the time line, Robert grasps better his place in the world.  But then, I am not sure if I can do that myself.

Biking to Starbucks and Back

August 1, 2016

Last Friday, Amanda (Robert’s sister) took Robert bike riding on the parking lot across the street. I was a little apprehensive.  Although the parking lot was mostly empty, there still were some cars passing through.  A few minutes later, Amanda came to tell me, “Robert said, ‘Coffee, coffee, coffee’ .  That means, ” She continued. “that he wants to go to Starbucks.”

Well, Starbucks is 3 miles from our house and the ride there involve three streets – two of them with moderate traffic and one with a heavy traffic.  True, there is a sidewalk along those street with the exception of a few hundred yards.  Moreover, almost three years ago, Amanda and Robert rode their bikes there at least two times.  That is why, in the first place,  Robert associated bikes with coffee.   The three years passed, however, and Robert changed.  So, I was nervous. But then I realized that I should not be the one who is putting stiff limits to what Robert can and cannot do. So, I let them go.

Twenty minutes later, Amanda called from Starbucks to inform me that Robert was very proud of himself,  gave her high-five, drank quickly iced caramel Mocchiato with coconut milk and asked for more.  Her second call was to tell me that they are leaving to come home.

We should have waited.  Although it was an evening, it was not dark.  They were as safe on the way home as they were on the way to Starbucks. We should have waited.  But we haven’t.

Anxious Jan went to either pick them from the road or to shadow them on the way home.  Wrong idea.

Robert became both confused and angry.  After all, he was on his bike and he has not finished his bike route.  He was doing something with HIS SISTER and didn’t need his dad’s involvement.  They were peers, dad was not.  As he rode his bike he kept stretching his left hand calling very loudly, “Dad home, Dad, home.”

Dad, took a quick camera picture of his distressed son and accelerated  disappearing from his son vision.

Nonetheless, Robert was not happy. Our intervention/supervision to some degree spoiled this experience for him.  He wanted to grow up, and the best way to learn how to grow up is to follow his sister.  She is the role model demonstrating what it means to grow up step by step.  Dad and mom are parents, they keep the childhood like a sticky air all around.