My kids are out of the house as I type this. That driver’s license Mac carries sure does mean the kids are gone a lot more. Ellie Cat (see my post She’s Got Cattitude) is spending more and more time with me in the living room since the house is so quiet so often now. Tonight Mac and Emma are attending a swing dance held at a local church. It’s all rage now.
A few years ago a couple of young people got tired of the um… inappropriate behavior at their public school dances and decided to team up and start hosting swing dances. Mac and Emma have been attending for about two years now. They tried the English Country dances held once a month, but the pace was too slow for Emma and the drive was too much. English Country dance is the kind of dancing you see portrayed in movies like Pride and Prejudice. It is so wonderful to watch, I wish the kids enjoyed it more. But swing dance, you know, is a lot faster paced and both Mac and Emma really enjoy it. Swing is the kind of dancing we saw in shows like Happy Days. I’m told it’s the kind of dancing my in-laws enjoyed at their school dances.
The local dance draws in dozens of high school and college age kids each week. Over the summers they move to the park in town and dance outside. For some reason that we don’t quite understand, they don’t play swing music to dance to, instead they play clean or cleaned up Top 40 music. It seems a bit inauthentic to me, but then I don’t care for Top 40 music either. It has been good clean fun and a wonderful place for the kids to connect with other kids and just be kids.
Things started to get a bit ugly over the summer though. Our area has a high rate of drug use. The dances being in the town park left it open to who ever happened to stroll by. My kids saw a bit of the local drug culture but both of them are so confident, it never put a dent in their anti drug use armor. We’ve raised them to know better. We’ve seriously raised them to know better. I’m not just saying that, we have raised them to know better. They’re both very open about what they saw and we made sure that the proper restrictions were in place to protect them. Unfortunately the drug culture trickled into some of their fellow homeschool dance partners. It was hinted that there were a couple of kids that came to the dances high on something. It was hinted that some of the couples were sneaking off by themselves. It was brought to the attention of the organizers and the adult chaperones. It was dealt with, swiftly and surely. Everyone is still on the alert though.
The sad thing is, a lot of the good kids have given up coming. Some of them have been forbidden to come anymore. Just tonight Mac was lamenting that none of his friends would be there tonight. Some are too busy, but others aren’t allowed anymore. I guess I can understand this reaction. We homeschool to have more influence over our kids and if there are kids at the dances that are breaking rules and even laws, we don’t want our kids anywhere near that. We can’t fool around with peer pressure, we’ve seen the reality of good kids falling into the wrong crowds. For us, we trust Mac and Emma to make good choices. We trust them to do what is right. It is in the back of my mind that if there is this bad element there, Mac and Emma could get caught up in the middle of some of the fall out. Like the fight that happened over the summer. The boy Emma was dancing with accidentally ran into a boy riding by on his bike. He didn’t even realize he did it, until the boy on the bike jumped on him. For just a few minutes Emma was in the middle of the attack. Her dance partner realized it when the boy who jumped him, trying to punch him, punched my Emma in the shoulder. Her dance partner pushed her away and a bunch of the other boys pulled the attacker off him. Someone called the police and they responded quickly. It was over in no time. I don’t expect it to happen again, but in the back of my mind, I’m glad the dances have moved inside to a church for the winter.
I think that our thoughts on the whole situation is that our kids have to face the world at some point. If it were to deteriorate further and become something really ugly, we’d have to follow the path of the parents who’ve already bowed out. I personally don’t want to have to do that. I don’t want to turn and run, leaving this fun activity for the kids to the bad elements. I want my kids to stand up and fight to keep it clean and healthy and they want that too. We wonder what draws the kids who break the rules to even be there. Something must make them want to come. Is there a way to reach out to them, without putting the kid at risk?
Can we as homeschooling parents give our kids the ability to handle these situations without exposing them to the dangers of the drug culture? Is it over protective to tell our kids that because some bad things happened in the past they can not longer attend? I can’t say that. If my kids weren’t talking to me about it each week my imagination might make up all sorts of trouble.
I do know this, Jesus calls us all. He calls the kids who’ve succumbed to drugs and other things along with the kids who’ve been raised to follow Him. We don’t have to get cleaned up to come to Him, He takes us just as we are. Beware, though, He loves us right where we are, but He loves us too much to leave us there.