Sad Boy asks, “Can we draw hearts with squiggly lines down the middle and an arrow through one with blood coming out?”
“Probably not what a newlywed couple would want to see on their congratulatory card,” I pipe in. “What are some things that you think of when you think of happy weddings. Draw those things.”
“Couples don’t stay happy,” Sad Boy explained, “They get divorced like my parents.”
Since the start of class, last fall, I have been keenly aware of Sad Boy and his behavior. He told us, the first day, that his parents had just split and he was being shuffled from house to house. It is evident how angry he is about the entire thing, and I can’t blame him.
I was him…okay, so not really him because I never once considered drawing a bleeding, broken heart with an arrow shot through it, but I was most certainly full of similar anger. I was eleven when the split happened in our house, and I can attest to the swirling emotions of confusion, hurt, anger and sadness that are pretty difficult for a kid to digest.
How do you explain to an angry eight-year-old, who is already bitter about the divorce of his parents, that marriage can be a worthwhile and beautiful thing?
How do you explain to him that he is worthy enough to find happiness in the love of a wife and that he has so much to offer the world?
I try. And I guess that is all I can really do. He’ll never get to see my marriage, or live in my house for any length of time to see that there is possibility…despite pain. But I do what I can.
After Sad Boy asked if he could draw the bleeding heart picture I asked him to come with me out into the hall.
“Do you know what I’m going to tell you?” I asked him, working hard to have gentle and loving eye contact with him.
“Stop talking?” he sulked.
“No, definitely NOT to stop talking. You have so many great things to share with this group,” I countered. “I just hope you can find the more positive things to share. Do you think you can do that?”
He looked up at me and straightened himself. When we went back in he surprised all of us with his drawing talent on the card. He etched out a man proposing to a woman in Diary-of- a-Wimpy-Kid-cartoon fashion, and I made a number of comments about how fantastic it was.
“The couple who gets your card is going to be really happy,” I told him.
He slid back in to negative by the end of the class, but for at least a little bit he looked at the glass as if it were half-full.
I see Sad Boy maybe once a week, if I’m lucky, and sometimes I see him at church with his mom (who I absolutely applaud for her willingness to keep coming to church-that is often such a difficult thing to do).
Maybe what she is doing will be enough. What she is doing is what my mom did. Despite how awful she might have felt about what was happening in our house, my mom continued to take us to church. It gave us that stable and loving place, and although it wasn’t right away, it was through God, my own bitterness, anger and disappointment eventually faded.
I pray for Sad Boy and his parents, and I am grateful to have even the smallest opportunity to show how powerful a loving marriage can be. It is what I am called to do, after all.
I just wish there was more I could do for him.