If you are old enough to remember the songwriter Sherman Kelly’s “Dancing In the Moonlight” you will enjoy this blog. Supervising girls who are transitioning from constant supervision to “staff available” often comes with its own struggle. Situated on our rural campus sits a small two-bedroom one bath cottage adjacent to our main home. Here our girls test their wings much like a Harry Potter novel by taking short flights on the journey we call life. Many of those skills are a white knuckle ride for us to watch, but behind the constant redirection comes a level of pride watching the girls learn to fly. It’s not unusual to hear the smoke detector as girls practice their cooking skills or have a late-night request to borrow the plunger. But some nights the request remind us of simpler days.
Last night, one of our girls who has lived with us for well over a year was found in the gazebo after hours. Staff peered out the window to see why two figures were moving in symphony around and around under a canopy of simple white lights strung around the perimeter of the gazebo with no music, just a serenade of crickets. Watching them dance under a sea of stars on a dark Georgia night with grace and laugh so casually despite the hardships of foster care was a perfect ending to a long day.
If one didn’t know the back story, it would be easy to dismiss this gesture as two kids practicing the Waltz for a school dance. But to us, it is a sign that our child has begun to put down roots in the place she has called home for so long. You see, this child that we love so much came to us in crisis. Despite many critics telling us repeatedly that this young life needed to be locked into a facility to change her behavior, we disagreed. We have loved and supported this young person through many normal teenage behaviors that some would find offensive. We’ve negotiated shorter sentences with the school for truancy, had lenghty conversations about “gauges” in place of a more subtle stud earring, provided oversight for failing grades, rewarded the use of positive words in lieu of the standard four letters once used to disagree, and so many more.
Tonight, we simply got to enjoy watching the once rebellious teen dancing in the moonlight, barefoot with a boy she’s known and loved since the 5th grade. The boy she rides to church with every Sunday and plans to share a life with after she leaves foster care. As the staff observe the curfew violation, they simply smile and walk back inside quietly closing the door. And we think to ourselves, what a wonderful life.
And on that note, this is why we work here. Find your peace today and tomorrow will be easier.