Tornado S did not want to go to religious class. But I made him. He whined. He cried. He begged. Video games were not going to be in his future.
When we arrived, Tornado A jumped out of the car. I told him to go ahead and go without us; we’ll catch up. I opened up Tornado S’s car door.
Me: Come on, Tornado S. Time to go.
Tornado S: (crying) But why are we here?
Me: Because I am raising you Catholic, so you have to come to classes.
Tornado S: But why?
Me: Because this will give you a place to start. A place to start questioning and searching and trying to understand the world.
Tornado S: But why here?
Me: Because this church has a lot to offer, and it agrees with a lot of what I believe.
Tornado S: (still crying) But why are we here?
Me: (sigh) Because you have to go to class.
Tornado S: No. Why are we here?
Tornado S: Why are we here? Why do we exist? Why do we live?
Me: You want to know why we are here on earth, living this life?
Tornado S: (sobbing) YES!
Me: Well. I think we’re here to learn. To experience. To love.
Tornado S: But why is life so horrible?
Kid, you ain’t seen nothing yet. But then this is the kid who cried watching a Save the Children Fund commercial.
Me: I don’t know, baby. A lot of people have tried to find out why. Listen. Let’s go home. You can rest. You don’t have to go to class. When you’re ready, we’ll talk more about this. Let me just let your teacher know.
So I walked into the building to find that Tornado S’s teacher wasn’t there. In his place was the director of children’s ministry.
Director: Hey. You don’t look like Tornado S. But I see a resemblance. (Yeah, we’ve been in the program for a few years now.)
Me: It’s the nose and the cheeks. Yeah, Tornado S is having an existential crisis in the car. So I think I need to take him home.
Director: A what?
Me: He wants to know why we’re here. Not here for class, but here as in our lives.
Director: OH! Wow. Ok. Yeah. Tell him I wonder that myself. It’s fine. He’s a good kid. He told us all about the homily the other day.
I stopped making eye contact as I watched Tornado S walk past the windows to the door. He came into the room.
Tornado S: Hi, Mama! I figured it out!
Me: Um, ok.
Tornado S: We’re here to have fun!
Tornado S: I’ll stay for class.
Director: Tornado S. I won’t make you do any work today. Just listen. Ok, bud?
Tornado S: Ok. Can I go get a snack first?
Director: Sure, go ahead.
Me: Um. Ok. Well, then. See you in 50 minutes.
What the hell?