Regaining Balance while Sheltering at Home

April 28, 2020

I am in search of words to describe the obvious and not so obvious changes to our lives brought by COVID 19 pandemic. As I wrote in my previous post, at least two weeks before Robert’s program was closed, I was trying to prepare him for time without HMEA, without swimming pool,  horseback riding, without skiing, and without trips to Cape Cod.  So we should be ready to face the challenges of sheltering at home. But we weren’t as  our first reaction to staying at home was oversleeping. That Robert slept until 10 or even 11 each day is not surprising. He  seems to believe that there is no point of getting up if nothing is planned for a day. And how something could be planned if every place Robert liked to attend was closed.  However, the fact that I kept sleeping past nine was harder to explain. I always get up at 6 AM even on weekends.  Now, I wanted to stay in bed longer as if I too lost focus and /or balance. I had to force myself to  resume basic daily routines and to adjust to new circumstances. Moreover, I needed to  entice Robert to do the same.

I felt obligated to fill Robert’s day with meaningful activities but I had neither will nor strength to do so. During the first three weeks we haven’t not been even study together. I felt drained.  I was also afraid that if we continue with our daily lessons, Robert would expect to go to his program as if nothing changed. That might cause some unnecessary friction, I wanted to avoid. There was also another reason for that, I wanted Robert to adjust to staying  home on his own terms. I wanted to see how that would go.

And yes, Robert slept a lot.  His naps, however, were intertwined with periods of watching Netflix on his IPAD or …. watching TV. That was new as in the past, Robert rarely, if ever, chose to watch television at home. Now, he discovered Bee Gees’ music and rediscovered Sesame Street.

Soon, Robert learned that he still could order what would be for  dinner the following day (the same way he always had done it before) . He also knew that the next day he will go for a walk with dad.  The walk became the highlight of his day and offered him something  to look forward to.

As he became, more and more comfortable with staying at home, he took charge of the laundry,(well, he still needed to be reminded of pouring detergent in the machine) and emptying dishwasher.  Moreover,  he also started rinsing the dishes  and placing them IN the dishwasher.

When, after a few weeks long break, I proposed that we return to studying together, Robert didn’t protest. We skipped writing in his notebook, he used to carry to HMEA as a communication device. Instead we enriched our time together by making folders from Take It to Your Seat workbooks. Finally, Robert colored two identical pictures from two Pirate Coloring books.  Originally there purpose was to teach Robert to color the same way I did AND to color differently than I did. But I was extremely happy that Robert colored both all by himself without me giving him any directions at all.

A few days ago, I started cleaning the bathroom.  Robert came in. “Do you want to clean?”

“Yes, yes, yes”.

And so he did.

As he was spraying the sink with a cleaner, I realized that he really wanted, much more than I expected, to contribute to our life and enrich his own.









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