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.

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