You know, there's a little boy I come across regularly at work. His mother is out of the picture. He is raised by his father alone. He's often dirty and unkempt. He often is oppositional and defiant. I love all the kids, and although he is a special challenge, I see plainly that the little fellow has had a hard life. I try to spend time with him, one on one, whenever I have the chance to do so, but it is hard, because there are a lot of kids, and there are a lot of them that need that one on one time. It's also important to balance that gentleness with a firm discipline, because he can be rough and mean to other kids, and, God love him, he's big for his age.
Today, he walked past the door and looked in. I was busy with other kids, and on the floor as I usually am, but I waved to him and greeted him cheerfully. Suddenly, the side door opened, and before I could even react, he was rushing to me. He crashed into me and gave me a big hug, nearly knocking me over because I was kneeling on the floor. I hugged him back, tightly, and thanked him for that hug, rocking him side to side as I patted his back.
He pulled away and smiled, and then rushed back out the door just as quickly as he had come in.
I stared after him with no small surprise. Yes, we talk, but he is often frustrated with me, because I am cautioning him not to be so violent in his play. Yes, we do crafts together after school, but he is often immature and upset that I won't simply do the activity for him.
Still...there is something in the boy that begs to be noticed, hungers for attention, and, in the end, longs for a hug.
I bowed my head for a minute and said a prayer for all little children who have rough lives, and I thanked God that I was there when one of them wanted a hug.