Saturday, the day our church has Sunday school. Why don't we just call it Saturday school? Who knows.
I am training Dina and Felismina to teach SS, so I find myself there at 8 a.m. and hope either or both of them will show. Kids are always there. Yesterday one of my trainees showed up 15minutes before the end of SS, so I guess it was pretty good. (I did ask her how she was and her answer was "normale" which in this culture is code for: not very well at all, thank you.)
The story of the day was Job, but that is not the story I have for you. Your story is "Evaldo." He attended yesterday. He is about three, the son of the ex-pastor. Chubby, cute, and imperious, he has been used to having an important father, getting his own way (by creating scenes), and being the darling. Almost a year ago his mother birthed Cristina, and he has been in competition ever since.
Combine that with the stress at home of parents who don't love each other, big step-brothers who abuse him and disrespect his mother, and a father who beats his mother and you have a pretty good idea of his mental state. He is the terror of Sunday School. He attends under the supervision of his sister, Raquel, a quiet unobtrusive eight-year-old. He hit other kids, threw shoes (everyone takes them off), beat the drum, and stretched out on the floor for a few improvised tantrums. Each time I explained what was unacceptable and several times picked him up and placed him outside the church door (we meet just inside the door). This was resisted, and he came back in banging wood against the doorpost, but found himself outside again.
The time for drawing pictures came and Evaldo made sure he was inside. He was supplied with notebook and colors. He tried a few offensive attacks, but calmed down. Once he began to shout at Dina and I told him to speak in a respectful voice or head on outside. He actually began to whisper. The change was so radical the other kids started laughing. They had never seen him respond so.
He still had another time out or two, but generally didn't command attention the whole time. At the end of class, I wheeled my bike down the steps. He grabbed the front tire. He likes wheels. So I let him "help" me get the bike outside. Just before mounting the bike, I impulsively asked him for a hug. He gave me a blank stare. (maybe he didn't know the word?) I picked him up--heavy little blighter--and tried to hug him. He was stiff as a board.
"Will you come to Sunday School next week?" I asked. He nodded.
I hugged a little tighter. "Did you like the story?" He put his head on my shoulder, nodding.
"Can you try to learn your memory verse with Raquel?" Another nod. Then his little arms tentatively crept around my sides and he hugged me back.
I wonder how long it has been since anyone just hugged him.