Venturing Outside After the Storm

Over the years, Robert  displayed a few difficult behaviors in public places.  Very few.  Nonetheless, they always left marks. Like  shadows or dense mist, they tainted the world outside presenting it as darker and riskier. Those episodes always shook me to the bone.  It was hard to regain posture or pose after they happened and even harder to imagine going out with Robert again.  Even understanding Robert’s motivations and actions didn’t make venturing out easier.

there is no other option, but to go out again and again and again

I wrote about our shopping pitfalls at . I wrote about Robert’s terrifying disappearance during a family stroll in Boston Commons at  I could write more, much more, but the only important thing is to keep going out again, no matter what.

I wrote about our Monday’s visit to the optometrist to order a new pair of glasses at Very stressful event.  Even more stressful because I did not expect it.  The last time something similarly difficult happened was in early summer of 2006. Seven years earlier!  And like seven years earlier, I was shaken to the bone.  I lost and motivation for going out with Robert anywhere.

But like seven years earlier I knew there is no other option, but to go out again, and again, and again.

So on Tuesday and again on Wednesday, we went out.

On Tuesday, Robert was not entirely himself.  He was still digesting what had happened on Monday at the Optometrist’s. It was important, however, that we keep similar schedule so we studied  for two hours  with the help of a few sets of language cards: Synonyms, Changing Nouns to Adjectives, Making Predictions and a few other. A lot of talking.

In the afternoon, we drove to the Zoo.  But instead of  Roger Williams Park and Zoo in Providence, which we had visited many times,  I took Robert to the Franklin Zoo in Boston.  I chose Franklin Zoo  to let Robert see different animals (tiger and lion).  I chose this zoo, to break Robert’s habit of making a purchase of watermelon flavored lemonade to be the main attraction of the zoo trip. I wanted Robert to refocus on animals.   My main reason, however,  for choosing Franklin Zoo was to venture out of our routines, even if that meant to step out of MY safety zone.  I needed to take Robert to a place that would be as new for him as it would be for me.  I needed to explore new  paths of the new zoo just to expand the space in which Robert feels comfortable.

I wanted to show Robert and to demonstrate to myself that it is OK to not always know what is at the end of the path. Of course, that was not a dramatic change.  It was after all zoo, just like Roger Williams. How much different could it be? On Tuesday, it was as different as I could tolerate.

It turned out to be a very pleasant afternoon. We consulted our maps to find out  where we wanted to go.   We meandered around lion’s, tiger’s, and camels’ enclosures, visited pavilion with apes, compared  Bactrian Camels to Dromedaries  (two humps versus one hump), and mistook ostriches for emus.  Robert noticed a restaurant. “Fries, fries”, he asked.  “We will eat home.  We came to the zoo to look at animals. We will eat home.  Chicken and potato with cheese.” We continued walking and watching before   very pleased with ourselves, we returned to our car.

On Wednesday morning, Robert and I practiced with clock and time zones. We used three other sets of language cards practicing prepositions, synonyms, and changing nouns to adjectives (for fluent speaking). After lunch we went to Old Navy to buy clothes for Robert.  I believed that for Robert, buying clothes was an easier to accept variation of ordering new glasses. Before we went, I reviewed with Robert the whole process: look for a right size, choose clothes you like, try them on in changing room, see what looks best, and pay for it.   Everything went so smoothly, that we left after 15 minutes with two cheapest T-shirts.

As we were leaving the store, Robert looked at me as if he were saying, “See, I can do it.  It is easy.  Not a big deal”

He was right.  It was not a big deal.  Or was it?