This morning a four year-old boy entered my classroom crying. He was sad about a game he had just played in another group. He did not get a turn to lead a particular activity. Tears flowed freely. I tried to comfort him with a hug and kind words, but to no avail. He puckered his lower lip and wept. Again, I tried to comfort him but with no results. So, I tried a different approach. I asked him to breathe deeply. In and then out. Once. Twice. Three times. As he followed my example he visibly calmed. This gave me opportunity to redirect his attention into a new activity where he had an opportunity to have a turn first. Finally, he smiled.
When a little boy cries there can be many reasons. Physical pain, being frightened, harsh words, sadness about perceived unfairness, and so on. I try to comfort first while also determining the cause. In this case the cause was the boy who feeling left out when other children received a turn. Life can be unfair that way. But parents, caregivers, and children’s ministry workers can also show that God provides new and different opportunities to find fulfillment. For this boy the solution was a simple as a few moments collecting his composure, and being redirected into a new fun activity where he could participate actively. It is one snapshot into the many moments which comprise a typical Sunday morning in the local church.