It’s been a long time since I’ve purchased any new furniture. But our old couch, a fourth-generation hand-me-down, was down to threads. The middle sagged like my, um – well, it just sagged. And even the slipcover that I’d had on it for the past five years was worn and faded. It was time for a new couch.
So, after much searching in stores and trying to budget for a brand new one, I found on Craig’s List a beautiful, gently used leather sectional that I love. It’s the same shape as our old one, just a few inches longer on each side. And the price couldn’t be beat. I was so excited about it!
Then I remembered – I had better prepare Nigel. Even little transitions like a new piece of furniture are sometimes difficult for him to assimilate. I announced that we would be getting a new couch soon and showed him the photos of it that had been posted on Craig’s List. I pointed out that it was similar in size and shape to the old couch, just different material. I mentioned that I wouldn’t constantly be nagging about the slipcover getting messed up because we wouldn’t need a slipcover. Nigel, not caring in the least about the slipcover, started in with the questioning. Why do we need a new couch? Why can’t we just keep the old one in the game room? Why do we have to get rid of it?
I couldn’t expect him to understand that because the old couch had belonged to an ex-boyfriend, I really didn’t want to keep it any longer. So I tried to come up with other compelling reasons, but Nigel held his ground. He didn’t want to get rid of the old couch because he had fond memories of watching movies with the ex-boyfriend. I knew then that the only way out of this conundrum would be gradual. He needed time – time to bond with the new couch and time to let go of the old one.
Since Nigel is a kinesthetic learner, I figured that one way of helping him to process the new couch would be to have him help with moving it. I brought him with me to go pick it up from the seller’s house, and he enjoyed helping to carry it out and load it on the truck. When we got to our house, he helped to unload it and bring it in. And then he would have nothing to do with it.
I had pushed the old couch to the back of the room, and that is the one that he sat on. “I have to say goodbye to it,” he told me. And I knew that he would need time to do that, so I scheduled the pick-up for the old couch the following week. He sat on it for about an hour, and he insisted on eating his dinner while seated on it. “I have a lot of memories with this couch,” he said wistfully. “Yes, honey. We all do,” I confirmed. Then I had an idea.
“I think tonight we should have our first memory with the new couch. And the old couch will still be here, so it can be the last memory with the old couch, okay? Let’s all watch a movie together tonight. Nigel, you can choose what we watch.”
So that night we watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Nigel split his viewing time between the old couch and the new couch, doing in-home couch surfing. At the end of the movie, I asked him what he thought of the new couch. He mulled it over before answering, and then he said, “Well, I would like it better if it had a fabric cover.” Ah! A sensory issue! I should have thought of that! I suggested that he could cover his side of the couch with a sheet until he gets used to the leather. “But it’s not so bad,” he conceded. “I don’t mind it.”
And that’s how we roll – one couch-surfing transition at a time.