Sunday, June 14, 2009
Never What I Expect
Baroy was in the family room, listening to something on his computer. It was loud; I could hear it from where I lay, in N's room, while N tried to fall asleep. So I asked N to go and ask his daddy to please turn down the computer volume.
I need to digress, now. The front of our house has a living room and Em's room, with a pocket door between the two. N's room is toward the back of the house, down a hallway from Em's. There is another pocket door between his room and the kitchen. The kitchen is the only way into the family room--which was built onto the very back of the house some decades ago, and which is where Baroy was sitting.
In other words, the obvious way into the family room would have been for N to go through the pocket door right outside his room, go through the kitchen, and be in the family room. It's a small house. Maybe 15 or 20 steps for a little guy.
But, instead, he got up, went down the hall to the pocket door outside Em's room, then into the living room, through the not-really-a-separate dining room, through the kitchen, and into the family room. The longest possible route.
He does this all the time. ALL the time. He's been doing it for years. He and I will both be going into his room, and I'll cut through the kitchen, while he'll go all the way around through the living room. I'll say something like, "It'd be quicker is you just go through the kitchen," and he'll get embarrassed and defensive and say, "I just like this way better."
I didn't push it; if he wants to walk the long way around, it's not hurting anyone. Besides, I've always assumed he was covering up for something, that this was a symptom of some kind of developmental disorder. That it was something semi-grave. Something significant that sheds light on why he has trouble learning some things, at some times. In fact, as I lay there watching him go, I thought to myself, "I need to talk to H [his occupational therapist] about this. I wonder if it's an indication of some kind of spatial relationship problem. Maybe he literally can't figure out the shortest distance between two points. Maybe..."
I don't know what made me decide to just ask him straight out, when he came back into the room, why he always goes through the living room, and not through the kitchen, when that would be so much shorter.
"It's the magnet," he said.
"The Wizard of Oz magnet. The one on the refrigerator. It scares me. I just don't like to walk past it."
"Oh," I said. It took me a second to understand what he was saying...that he was talking about something so simple, yet so unexpected. "So, if we took that magnet off the fridge...?"
"Then I probably wouldn't be scared any more."
"Well, that's an easy fix. I'll do it in the morning."
He smiled happily, went off to sleep, and...after taking a couple of photos...I removed the offending magnet. We'll see if it helps.
But here's the thing. Ignoring the fact that it's remarkable that that one magnet is even noticeable to him in the ridiculous homage to clutter that is our fridge front...Ignoring the fact that Dorothy asleep in the poppies is a weird thing to be freaked out about...I just didn't see that one coming. At all. I could have guessed from now until next Sunday as to what was going on here, and I would have talked about neural pathways and quirkiness and processing disorders, but I would never, NEVER, have considered something as simple as a scary fridge magnet.
I should expect it by now, but I don't. It really is NEVER what I expect.