Untangling the Knot 2. Our Home, Their Houses

October 26, 2017

I used to like to have friends and family come over.  I liked when they came to spend the holiday weekend with us, I liked when they came for a special day dinner.  I liked when they came for a quick cup of coffee or tea.  Lately, however, having guests over became much more complicated.  I never know how will Robert react to their presence.  He can welcome the visitors with a smile.  He can ignore them and go to his room to watch movie on Netflix.  But he can also keep giving them clear indications that they should leave. He can be very persistent.  He will keep orbiting the table watching for empty plates or cups which he immediately takes to the kitchen sink.  He might be pointing his fingers at them and keep saying. “House, house, house.” He might bring their jackets.  He might pick up their purses hanging on chairs and place them on the table in front of them. All of that with clear suggestion, “House, house, house.” Even worse, on two occasions he grabbed arms of a guest trying to pull him or her toward the door.  Both times he immediately stopped, when I told him to.   Nonetheless, it was very upsetting.

I always ask guests not to leave at that point.  I don’t want this behavior to be rewarded.  That is why, I apologize to guests and at the same time, I ask them to stay a little longer.  Depending on how long the guests planned to stay, I, with their cooperation, try to manage Robert behavior.

I tried to redirect Robert and ask him to complete a puzzle.  Robert very reluctantly complies. He brings the puzzle to the table and keeping eye on all of us, tries to assemble it. Still, after every few pieces, he points his fingers at our guests and says, “Home, home, home.”

When the guests are almost ready to leave, I tell Robert that they will go to their houses at specified time, usually 15 minutes.

One of the visitors, after telling Robert that she would go to her house in 15 minutes, she set the timer.  For those 15 minutes, Robert stood almost frozen next to the timer and watched moving numbers,  hardly even blinking.

A few times, at night, I told Robert that the guests will leave when he will take a bath. That is the most flexible solution which to some degree takes pressure from everybody.

I also pour a little more tea, or water into the guests’ glasses, because as long as they have something in them or on their plates, they are allowed to stay.

I hoped that by now, Robert would learn to relax and tolerate his parents’ guests, but it is not so.  There are days when he doesn’t mind and the days where he is very persistent.  It is not about who comes for a visit, because at different times he might behave completely differently toward the same person.  There are other factors at play and I can only guess what they are based on rather flimsy observation.

  1. Not too many visits on the same day.  If we had someone stop by in the morning, Robert is less accepting of afternoon visitors.
  2. If the guest stops on the day when Robert has his mind set on an exciting activity which might take place hours later, Robert believes, that the presence of that person interferes with his plans.
  3. If someone comes when Robert’s dad is at work, Robert might believe that this person precludes his father from coming home.
  4. Maybe, just maybe Robert wants peace and quiet and a little more attention from his parents.
  5. Maybe, he wants to assert his position in our house as someone whose preferences also counts.

Whatever the reasons they all need careful considerations and appropriate approaches. At this point I don’t have any solutions. Yet

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