In August, 2012, I wrote a blog entitled, “When are we Leaving?” I just re-read it and it’s almost a duplicate of this blog I post two years later:
Bo walks into the family room carrying the placemats from the kitchen table and asks, “When are we leaving?” and while we have a “conversation,” he continues to examine them.
“We’re not going anywhere,” I say for perhaps the 20th time this evening.
“No, we aren’t going anywhere tonight.”
I’m tired. Bo’s tired. He doesn’t understand. It’s only 7:15 and I want him to go to bed. Please, I beg him silently, please let me sit on the sofa and grade my students’ final exams.
“When should we leave?” he asks again.
“We’re not going anywhere tonight.”
“We’re not? … tomorrow, though … What time should we get up?” He’s annoyed with me now and wants an answer.
I say we’ll leave at noon and he’s satisfied for a few minutes, but then he asks again. He may eventually go upstairs and I’ll get him into bed, but an hour later he may also come back downstairs asking the same questions — the same questions he asked yesterday and the day before and the day before that.
When we were having this same conversation an hour ago, he asked, “Will they kill us?” This caught me off guard. Where did it come from? What ideas are intersecting in his brain?
“Why do you ask that?”
“I don’t know.” He holds his head and looks worried.
We have imaginary conversations now. Often I have no idea what his question is because the words aren’t real, so I try to second-guess his meaning, but he is still sharp enough to know if my answer is nonsense and it annoys him.
I tell him that we won’t be leaving tonight because … the weather’s bad, there’s too much traffic, we don’t want to travel on the weekend … whatever placates him for that moment. Sometimes Jon backs me up with, “You don’t want to travel tonight, Bo. Nancy’s right, there’s too much traffic … ” and he accepts it for the moment. This helps to allay my growing frustration.
There are a few days when I can find something to occupy Bo’s time for a while. Yesterday I was baking a cake and he wanted to help. He cleaned everything I used, even if I needed it soon again. I put down the measuring cup; he washed it. I put down the spatula; he washed it. I finally gave him two mixed up decks of cards and asked him to arrange them into piles. At first, I thought he didn’t understand, but when I next looked he was hard at work placing aces on aces and jacks on jacks. He was occupied by this task which he sort of did over and over for about 40 minutes — this man who commanded a tennis court and played golf every day.