He looks up at me from under blankets that cover all but his head, round eyes like tiny moons in the night. He yawns, but those eyes ask me to stay. There’s something I need to tell you, Dad, those eyes say.
“What’s on your mind?” I ask, and for a moment the only sounds in the bedroom are the three Legos that topple from an overfull plastic tub by the door and the wind against the window. He wants to say, he doesn’t want to say, and so he looks at the ceiling and whistles. I ask him again.
“You know how we do devotion before bed? And then we pray?”
“I don’t think I like the way you been prayin, Dad.”
Of all the things I think he can say—and there are plenty—I would have never thought that one.
“Why do you say that?”
The blankets around his head inch upward as his tiny shoulders shrug.
“Well,” I say, “if you think a thing, you have to have a reason for it…right?”
“You don’t pray like you used to,” he tells me. “You used to do it like you were talkin and you knew God was listenin. Now you do it like…I don’t know. Like you’re talkin to the wall, I guess, and you know the wall ain’t gonna answer.”
You don’t like those sudden revelations that your children aren’t really children at all, but growing men and women who see and hear and understand more than you think. And since this is something I really don’t want to discuss with a seven-year-old—or anyone, for that matter—I change the subject.
“How was your math test today?”
“Hard,” he whispers. “Lots of kids didn’t do so good, I think. They kept raising their hands, but the teacher wouldn’t answer them, she just watched. I think I did okay, though. What’s wrong with your prayin, Dad? Is it stuck?”
“I think so. Sometimes when you get older hard things happen. And even though you still talk to God, you get the sense that He’s not much interested in saying something back. That’s not true, of course, but you might feel like it is. It’s like you’re wrestling with something on your insides.”
The thought occurs that maybe I’ve said too much, but I haven’t. His little head bobs up and down on the pillow as if saying I hear ya, Dad, been there many a time myself. And I suppose maybe he has. You don’t have to be a grownup to wander from God and then ask Him why He moved.
“So maybe you’re takin a test, too,” he says.
“I think maybe you’re right.”
And he looks at me with those moon eyes that see and understand. His hands move from under the blankets to mine.
He says, “The Teacher’s always quiet durin a test, I guess. But He’s always watchin.”