Wednesday, July 13, 2016

In Luxembourg Gardens

So there we were, in Luxembourg Gardens, at around 4:30 on a mild day in late June. We had enjoyed our afternoon coffee in a cafe nearby (idiot dad somehow having missed the cafe right in the park while studying a park map).  We pulled up some chairs and I was ready to settle in for some chilling and people watching in one of my favorite places on the planet, a place where I had spent a lot of time in the summer of '92 when I lived in a spartan hotel room near the Sorbonne and took classes on the other side of the park at the Alliance Francaise.

I was happy.  Graham, however, was not. He was tired from what had legitimately been a long day of schlepping through first a museum, then through some streets of central commercial/tourist Paris.  He wanted to go home on a subway before rush hour got started, so that he would be able to sit on the train.

I think Natalie said "we can sit here for 10 minutes or so, and then move on" or something like that, and I grunted approval.  Graham kept asking the time, and after 10 minutes he began to get upset, and even to cry a little.

I asked him why, and he said, in short:  "When you said 10 minutes I thought you meant 10 minutes, and I find it upsetting because if I can't trust you, my own father, that means I can't trust anybody."

This was a rather remarkable thing, for him to get to the root of what was bothering him and be able to articulate it.  Even for a 12-year old without autism, I think, that would have been pretty impressive.

So, pretty soon, we got up and left. We went a couple of blocks out of the way to show Natalie a corner of the Sorbonne, but pretty soon we were on the subway back to our Airbnb. Sadly, it was a pretty crowded trip home and I'm not sure Graham was able to sit the whole way. But it helped us set our general priorities for the next few days, because we knew what was important to Graham, and it's helped me think about communicating with him since then.

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