Finding Pillars of Robert’s World.

The difficult aspect of finding those basic rules that govern Robert’s understanding of his environment is the fact, that they can be discovered only when they are broken or in the danger of being broken. Only when Robert reacts to their perceived demise, we can “see” what caused Robert’s protests and understand his efforts to rectify the situation.
1. In anticipation of the arrival of the three family members, Robert and I were changing two beds (bunk) in Amanda’s bedroom. Those beds were not used for the last four months, as Amanda extended her stay abroad. Nonetheless, the clean sheets were in order. Robert helped to remove the sheets and pillow covers from both beds and promptly placed them in the washing machine. He protested, in his own way, when I tried to put two different sets on. Running his fingers on his ears and cheeks, and making relatively soft but grunting noises, was Robert’s way to express his displeasure with such arrangement. It didn’t help that one set was dark blue. After I explain to him that mattresses and pillows have to be covered, Robert consented and put clean bedding on. What could be more gratifying than watching Robert being convinced by my logical arguments and doing the work all by himself?
But I knew Robert all too well, to know that this was not the end of the story.
It wasn’t.
As soon as the old bedding was washed and dried, Robert instead of folding it and placing it in the linen closet, brought it to Amanda’s bedroom and… changed both beds again. Since, however, he folded the sets he had just removed and placed them on the proper shelves, I pretended that I didn’t notice. Since Robert tried to avoid confrontation and found a way to compromise, why shouldn’t I? Although….
2. Robert rather easily accepted the guests in the house. Not the first time and not the last. He didn’t mind them eating, working on computers, watching his IPAD, talking to parents. But on Sunday morning, he became concerned when he saw his uncle taking the box of his dad’s Familia cereal from the top of the refrigerator. As long as he had remembered, no guest had ever done that before. The guests ate all kinds of bread –Italian, Iggy’s, Peasano, Spiralonga, whole wheat, English muffins. All kinds of breads and rolls, but no Familia cereal. Even Amanda didn’t eat that one. That meant the cereal was untouchable. Before the aunt placed two bowls on the kitchen table, Robert managed to put the box back.
Still, he didn’t want to be an inhospitable host, so, without a word to support his ideas of rectifying the situation, he placed two halves of already toasted English Muffin in his aunt’s hand insisting that she eats those instead.
When Robert left the kitchen (His father called him to another part of the house to distract him), uncle and aunt pour cereal AND MILK into their bowls. When Robert returned, he glimpsed at the bowls and didn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that the aunt and uncle were eating his father’s favorite oats.
I know that the next time another guest takes a box of cereal down, Robert won’t mind. He has already learned, that “such thing can happen and that the world survives. In a way, he will understand that what he considered to be the pillar supporting his world, was really a wire in the psychological cage he constructed around himself. It was liberating to see the wire go.