By Erin Ulerich
The day really was going well with my two little ones. My kids had napped well, snacked well, and were excited about going to swim. My husband, Stephen, and I got to the pool, wrestled the floating devices onto the kids and finally got into the water. We introduced ourselves to a new staff family and their children, met several students from one of our girls’ dorms and were ready to play with the kids in the water.
Then it happened.
My children went bad. Rotten in a heartbeat. I can’t remember exactly what they were doing, except that they were definitely not obeying. And in a crowded swimming pool, obedience and safety are synonymous.
My husband and I gave each other the “time to go” look. We told the kids that we were leaving because they were not obeying, and in response they launched into total meltdown mode. Screaming, wailing…you get the picture.
Stephen and I got the kids into the van, put them in their car seats kicking and wailing, looked at each other, shook our heads, and started laughing.
As we drove home I said. “I’m sure we made quite an impression.”
A few days later, one of the dorm parents told me that my children’s meltdown had been the subject of some discussion in her dorm. As I hung my head, she assured me that her girls had been unphased by the meltdown. Our reaction is what grabbed their attention because it was very different from what they were used to seeing.
Life at French Camp Academy definitely resembles a fish bowl. The staff and students are around each other constantly. Those of us with small children give the students many opportunities to see the good, bad, and ugly sides of parenting. Really, it is good, because relationships form as we do life elbow to elbow.
As these relationships form, the impressions go both ways.
As I get to know our students, and know even a fraction of their stories, I am constantly impressed. Impressed that they are getting out of bed each day, going to school, looking forward to their future. Impressed that the same young man or young lady who was abandoned by their parents would have the courage to allow other adults into their lives. Impressed by the student who is determined to be the first in their family to graduate high school, or go to college. Impressed that they want to do life differently than they were shown at home.
Staff/student relationships are vital to the ministry here at FCA because within these relationships walls come down and stories come out. Every student and every staff member come to FCA with a story and, for a time, their stories include French Camp Academy.
Some students begin a brand new chapter in their lives here. Others may be here for a paragraph, or a few sentences. But while they are here, they hear truth that we trust will bear fruit in their lives. And while they are at FCA, we will learn from each other, meltdowns and all.