I very clearly see the irony in the fact that Kaelob used the work “broken” to describe feeling SAD on the way home from church today. I noticed early on that he was very sensitive today. It was a little different than normal. I don’t know if it was my perspective was different OR he was actually acting different, either way the best way of describing it is to say that he was being ‘sensitive’. IF his sisters just looked at him the wrong way he would practically start crying because he thought they were making fun of him. It wasn’t anger like usual, it was pure uncontrolled emotion. He would crumple up whimpering and crying clenching his fists into balls against his eyes as he cried.

It hurt me to watch him react to every little thing this way. At one point Peytne was apologizing to him for something she had done a few minutes before but he was also in the middle of talking about having leftover pizza for lunch. So when Peytne interrupted him to say, in a sweet voice, “I sorry Kaelob.” He growled at her and crumpled against the window crying uncontrollably.

We tried to discuss the interaction a little and get through the emotion of it but he wasn’t able to calm down quite yet. Finally when I asked him why he was angry, he was able to express to me that he wasnt angry but he “felt broken”. When I poked a little further at this intersting choice of words he said, “Sad, I feel broken and sad.” All I could say in response was, “Im really sorry you feel that way buddy.”

I understood.



It was a tough morning for him. He had done great during first service of church. His sunday school teacher expressed to me how awesome he had been and that despite some kind of disruption Kaelob came back to the Leader and apologized and everything was good. I had checked in between services to see how things were going, I had a nice little chat with him and he seemed to be pretty positive and upbeat. I gave him a couple kisses on the cheek and headed off to my class. I dont know what happened between the time I left and the time I showed up to pick him up, but when I walked towards the classroom I saw his teacher standing outside, arms clasped in front of him, staring across the walkway to where Kaelob stood under the staircase violently yanking branches off a bush.

These teachers have been so welcoming and loving and accepting towards Kaelob. I am SO grateful to their willingness to work with me and at times show more patience than I ever have! One teacher is a football coach and he and Kaelob go right into “coach and player” mode when he is the teacher, Kaelob loves it. Another teacher is a younger gentleman(the one from first service today) who seems to understand how to stay calm and talk through everything with Kaelob and his determination and consistence seems to provide strong boundaries that Kaelob knows exist when he is teaching. The teacher for second service is one of those dad’s who is fun and friendly… almost reminds me of Mr. Rogers with how smiley and almost ‘overly’ friendly he is ALL the time. Kaelob tends to try and walk all over people like this. This particular teacher has a teenage son who helps in the class as well whom Kaelob LOVES to run around on the playground with. Usually they use the teenage son to walk with Kaelob outside if they are having any problems, but today things were different.

When the lesson started Kaelob tried to sit in the back and they requested he sit in the front. He didnt like this idea at all and decided he’d had enough. He shut down and closed everyone out at this point and all he held onto was the anger he felt towards them for not allowing him to sit where he wanted to sit. At some point they removed him from the class and that just tipped him over the top. At this point he knew he’d pushed the limit and i was going to take a lot to backtrack and recover. He was not interested in talking, he was not interested in going back to class but upon thinking about class he remembered his shoes and toys he had brought in with him were still in there. This added to his anger becuase now he was realizing that he would HAVE to go back in there to get his stuff, and everyone would be looking at him, he might have to even apologize… the only reasonable thing to do at the point in his mind was to take his anger out on the poor unsuspecting plant.

I walked up at the point and removed him from the planter. I tried talking with him but his entire body was tense so i used a technique his teacher at school showed me of squeezing and releasing his shoulders then gently running my hands down his arms and repeating this motion. while I did this he listened to the teacher talk with me about the events that transpired and led to him standing outside beating up the bush. After the teacher and I talked for a minute he had relaxed a little but as soon I asked him, “what is making you angry Kaelob?” He burst into tears.

My big-little man crumpled into a heap of tears in front of the church and all he could say was, “I didnt want to sit in the back.” I talked to him for another minute or two and got him to understand the concept behind, if an adult asks you to sit somewhere, you do it. I tried twisting the truth around to something he could positively accept by saying, “They needed you to sit in the front so you could help them teach since you were already here first service. If you sit in the back, its harder for you to help them.” Usually at this point he would simply understand, oh they wanted my help, Gee guess I should have obeyed… blah blah blah. But in this case he took it as a missed opportunity and now everyone was disappointed and angry with him and he began to cry again mumbling, “Im horrible… I ruined everything.”

A few hugs, some kisses, wiped tears, a few positive words and he was able to calm down again. He calmed down enough to go get his belongings from the classroom, but he was not at all prepared to apologize. I explained to him that his reward of playing video games on Sunday afternoons would NOT be a possibility if he could not apologize for his behavior to the teacher before leaving. This caused another tear-filled meltdown but I walked away to pick up his sisters and he reluctantly followed. The girls were happy to pack up their things and head home, but Kaelob was still not ready. I had the girls sit on a bench and gave him one more try.

“I want you to walk with me” he said through the sniffles. I agreed and we walked together over to his teacher who was talking happily with his family in the courtyard. He saw us coming and eagerly stepped aside and knelt down to Kaelob’s eye level. Kaelob wouldn’t look at him and mumbled very quickly that he was sorry for not sitting in the front and getting angry. I dont remember exactly what this teacher said, but I can tell you I heard him repeat SO many times, SO enthusiastically to Kaelob that he was “awesome” and “smart” and a “great boy”. Those words brought tears to my eyes. Hearing someone else so passionately fight to encourage my hurting child brings a feeling I cant properly describe to you.

We left church feeling exhausted and a little on edge. The kids were discussing being hungry and that’s when Kaelob mentioned remembering my announcement from earlier that we would have leftover pizza for lunch after church. He was right but Peytne saying “sorry Kaelob” made him immediately think she was just being mean and saying Sorry as if he was wrong and that we weren’t having pizza. That was all he needed to burst into tears again, just one more thing he didn’t do right, one more thing he was wrong about… trying to explain to him that it was a misunderstanding didn’t seem to make it any better…

He felt “broken”…. “broken and sad.”

After hours of combating Haylee’s reoccur-ant fever, making a dinner no one wanted to eat, fighting off the painful reality that Eric isn’t coming home for who knows how long, the kids are finally in bed now and I sit down to exhale in the silence of my lonely living room and I think…

“Me too buddy, me too.”

One Reply to ““Broken””

  1. Please know that we “teachers” of theirs truly love Kaelob, Haylee, and Peytne. I often have a lap full of Peytne on a Sunday morning, my daughter has a lap full of Haylee, and Kaelob is the best hugger on the campus. He brightens my day when he runs up and smashes me with a hug and says, “aren’t you going to kiss my head today?”

    We are all learning to enter their worlds and see a bit better through their eyes. Yes, he stretches us, but it is a blessing to us.

    Thank you.
    Mary Jane

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