Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Domino Effect

Speaking of the Marcantonios, today at church I get called out of the auditorium via our paging system. I gather my belongings and walk down to the "holding room" where they keep the kids who are crying or otherwise in need of parental attention. A distressed Matthew is there, in the arms of a kind volunteer. I rescue him, and we head for the restroom, where Matthew calms down a little. He has been doing relatively well in his class recently, staying there through the entire service(!!), so I am curious as to why today is different. "Why were you so upset today, Buddy?" I ask him, not really thinking I will receive an answer.

"Dack," he says promptly, which usually means Jack. I can't quite figure out what Jack would have to do with anything. Maybe I'm just misunderstanding him. At any rate, I let it go.

Fifteen minutes later, the service is ending, and Jess comes rolling out of the kids' wing of the building with Jack and Emma in the stroller. "So," she says, approaching me, "did Matthew stay in class all day today?"

"No," I reply, "not today."

"It's Jack's fault," she says. "I'm so sorry." She then explains how she took Jack to class, noting that both Matthew and Jack's other good playdate buddy were already there. Great, she thinks, we're golden today! (Jack also has a history of not staying in his class.) Unfortunately, she is wrong, and Jack immediately starts clawing at mommy and screaming. "Matthew was doing fine until then," she concludes. "I think Jack set him off."

I am still chuckling over this--not so much at what happened, but at the fact that Matthew actually communicated it to me with some level of accuracy! And I blew him off, thinking he didn't know what he was talking about! Well, heads up, Mama. This little boy is starting to know his own mind, and he's telling you about it if you have the patience and insight to draw him out.

One final word, just in case I'm presenting Jack in a negative light. Jack is definitely not the only reason why Matthew might be removed from his classroom, even lately. Just two or maybe three weeks ago, I arrived in the holding room to find my son with a bloody knee. (The cause? He picked a scab in class and, due to legal regulations, children's ministry volunteers aren't allowed to administer first aid.) So, Jack, rest assured that we don't think you're the source of all Matthew's troubles. It's just that, today, you happened to be the first domino to fall.

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