I was sitting at my desk after checking in on each of the faith formation classes. An aide from the first grade came into the office with a young boy. He had bright red hair, freckles, and a scowl that said he knew he was in trouble. The aide told me that she and the catechist had tried everything to get this boy to behave in class—time out, sitting with the aide, making sure they praised all the children who behaved. Finally, they threatened to bring him to me if he did not behave.
“He said he wanted to see you,” said the aide. “So here he is!”
I thanked the aide and told the young boy to sit down in the chair beside my desk. He didn’t sit down. Instead he knelt facing backwards on the chair and rocked back and forth.
“Hey, lady,” he said. “Does everyone who comes here get in trouble?”
I answered him that not everyone is in trouble. Sometimes children come to get a sticker or just to say hello.
“I’m not in trouble,” he said as he rocked back and forth on his knees.
“Well, that’s good,” I said. “What’s your name?” Silence. “Was there something you wanted to tell me?” I asked.
The little red-haired boy remained silent, still rocking back and forth on his knees. I asked him if he would please sit down so I could see his face. The red-haired boy turned to me and said, “Lady, my dad packed his suitcase and said he is not coming back to our house anymore. What do you think God thinks about that?”
My heart jumped to my throat. This little boy was facing the loss of his dad, and now he wanted to know what God thought. I paused to pray for the right words to say. “I think God feels sad about your dad leaving,” I replied. “But I am sure God wants you to know your dad still loves you just as he loves you.” Back and forth the little red-haired boy rocked. “Would you like to say a prayer?” I asked. He nodded. “We can pray here or in church. Which place would you like?”
“Church,” he answered as he swung around and jumped to the floor.
We went into the church. I moved toward a pew, but the boy walked right up to the tabernacle. As he stood in front of Jesus in the tabernacle, the little red-haired boy loudly poured his heart out to God. Tears filled my eyes. I prayed he would know his dad still loved him no matter where he was. And I also asked God to let this child feel his love and know it would last forever.
When he finished his prayer, the boy wiped his eyes and nose with the back of his hand. I offered him a tissue as he turned to leave. We walked in silence from the church to his classroom.
“Thank you,” I said. “I will pray for you and your dad.”