The door clicks, followed by the soft footfalls of six-year-old bare feet on the hardwood floor in the hall. There is a pause, then more shuffling. Another click. The quiet clamor back up the ladder to the top bunk. All is quiet. I can return to my book in peace.
I no sooner reconnect with the words on the page when a soft wail rises from my son's room. As my niece and nephew are spending the might, I get up immediately to both see who it is and to keep that one from waking the other. Another wail rises as I make my way into the darkness, trusting my ears, not my eyes, to lead me. They lead me to the top bunk.
It is, as I expected, my son who is quietly sobbing atop his loft. "Whatsa matter, Buddy?" I ask. "I don't know, I'm just sad," he sobs. I sweep him down out of his bunk so as to not awaken the one I know I will be less easily able to comfort, and I take him out into the hallway. We sit, his head in my neck, and I ask him why he's sad. He sniffles, wiping tears from his big, brown eyes. "I dunno," he chokes out. "I'm just sad. I'm really sad."
This is what I'm talking about.
So, why does this innocent, cheerful, albeit slightly sensitive child's tiny bright red apple fall so close to his mother's tree? Is it genetics? Learned behavior? Generational cursing? Self-pity? Lack of contentment? Poor nutrition?
I don't know, but I sure wish I did. For him. For me. For others.
What causes a child who has everything—loving (albeit imperfect) parents, a room full of toys, food in his belly, friends who seek him out, a roof over his head, a knowledge and certainty that he is loved—to go to bed, night after night, feeling sad to the point of tears?
What causes his mother to do the same?