His joy about doing something fun, but not knowing what it is, relates to relief that it's over with. He's a boy after all.Years of experience have taught me the futility of arguing with T, but here I'm compelled to reply and expand on my original comments.
I described what I saw in my son as happiness and delight. It wasn't until I read T's comment that I thought, I know the difference between joy and relief.
I can understand that some kids would feel relief when it was over, but that didn't apply here. Beforehand, there was excited anticipation, not dread. He was looking forward to it.
As part of his preparation for receiving the sacrament, DS1 learned that when we sin, we hurt ourselves by creating a distance between us and God. The sacrament heals us, and brings us closer to God. When we sin, we also make it hard to feel good about ourselves, and penance helps with this, too. DS1 had a very bad day just recently, and so his first penance came with good timing. He had a serious issue that he really needed help with, and the confessional was a good place to look for it.
T also commented:
Sin is an adult concept - we shouldn't be placing this kind of guilt on kids of 7 or 8.To which I have to say: "Catholic guilt" ain't what it used to be, and that's a good thing. DS1 has a healthy perspective: we are none of us perfect, we all make mistakes. We should always do our best to do the right thing, but sometimes, we fail. That doesn't make us evil or irredeemable. He knows he can always ask for forgiveness and help from God -- and from his parents. He is loved, and always will be.
When he came out from confession, he was radiant in a way I have seldom seen him. His actions were far and away removed from just "relief." He was joyous in the way we all are, when we hear someone we love and trust say to us, "Here, let me help you with that," as we struggle with a burden that has become unbearable.
Part of his glee, too, was the feeling of "being in on the secret." Not everyone gets it, you know -- not even all the confirmed Catholics out there, even though it's one of the simplest things in the world. But for now, at least, he does.
That's one of the coolest things, ever.