Fait Acompli

February 9, 2017

Two weeks ago, Robert wanted to go to his adaptive horse back riding class.  He really wanted to go. However, his dad, who has been taking him there in the last few months, was sick and couldn’t drive.  I wanted to drive Robert, but he refused to go with me.  It was strange since it was  I who used to drive Robert there most of the time in the previous few years.  Robert wanted his dad.  It was their Sunday routine.  Horseback riding, shopping in Costco, and Crispy Chicken sandwich from Mac Donald.  I promised to do the same, but Robert refused.  He kept repeating, “Dad, dad, dad”.  He brought his dad’s pants and sweater, so dad would get up, dress, and drive.  He even tried to pull dad from the bed.  No words would persuade Robert to change his mind.  I had to cancel the lesson.  But Robert still wanted to go.  He didn’t seem to grasp the concept of cancellation.  At least not then and there.  I tried to turn his attention to something else.  We studied a little.  We went to the supermarket. But when we came back, Robert began insisting again,  Insisting!!!.  “Horse, horse”, he kept telling his dad while dad tried his best to sleep.  Over, and over and over.  Since the words didn’t persuade dad to drive Robert to the riding lesson, Robert emphasized his wish by taking a bag of carrots from the refrigerator and bringing it to dad.  “Horse, horse”, he kept repeating and simultaneously pointing to carrots.  Every time dad responded by telling Robert to put carrots back in the fridge.  Robert complied every time only to return to dad without carrots but with the same message, “Horse, horse, horse.”  When that didn’t help, Robert again took carrots to his dad repeating the same mantra “Horse, horse, horse” and then again returning it to the fridge.

It was exhausting.  It was hard for my husband and  for me. But  it was excruciating for Robert. He was clearly in distress.  Ignoring him didn’t help.  Redirecting him didn’t help. So I did the only thing I could do.  When Robert went to his dad again but without carrots, I took all the carrots out of the plastic bag and hid them.  I left, however,  the empty bag in the refrigerator.

Robert opened the refrigerator drawer and found an empty bag,  threw it away, and …. went to watch Netflix on his IPAD.  After four hours of attempts to force his dad to go with him to the horse riding class, Robert calmed down in a second.  Just like that.  He didn’t mention riding class not even once that day.  Maybe for Robert there was no point of going horseback riding since not even one carrot left.

I left an empty bag because of my previous observations of Robert’s reactions.  Many times in the past, when I tried to throw away his socks with holes, Robert would go through all the trash cans to find them and put them back in his dresser.  When I, however, cut  socks from top to bottom leaving a flat pieces of fabric and left them in the open, Robert accepted the fact that they couldn’t be worn anymore and dropped them in the garbage basket.

So I believed that hiding of the whole bag of carrot, would make Robert even more anxious. He doesn’t like when imperishable things vanish without explanation. Thus he would keep looking and persevering even more.  Carrots, after all, could be eaten or used in cooking. Their disappearance could be explained and accepted to everybody’s relief.

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