The party was held a downtown night club venue with a DJ and cash bar. I decided I would allow my soon-to-be 13-year-old daughter to attend. It wasn’t really an age appropriate event for her but I felt it would be an educational experience that she could benefit from. I allowed her to invite two friends who were accompanied by their parents. What I didn’t anticipate was that as the host, I would be the one who had the richest learning experience. These three pre-teens taught every adult at the party something very important.
First let me describe their behavior. They ate more cookies and chips and drank more soda than one person should consume in one sitting. They sat alone at their own table and giggled and laughed at their own jokes. They pestered the DJ to play Taylor Swift songs and boy band music back-to-back. They got on the small stage and danced the cupid shuffle, the sprinkler, the robot and other dance moves that were completely absent of twerks, booty moves or sexual innuendo. They laughed at themselves, played like children and took lots of poor-quality pictures with their cell phones. The stark reality is, these three beautiful girls all 12-13 years old are the exact average age of a young girl who is lured into sexual exploitation, child trafficking and, if not rescued, potential homelessness.
As a doctoral student, my head is often down reading others’ research and writing about the social injustices of the world, hoping to one day be published. My party was a call to action to raise awareness and get people to donate time and money to two local charities. However, watching my daughter act like a kid with her two friends was a humble reminder to me that I have to move away from my two-dimensional perspective and live in a 3D world where every child deserves to behave this way.
I will eventually forget the amount that was raised and may forget the number of people who attended, but I will never forget the image in my head of that dance-off and what it represented for me.
Sometimes we are moved in unexpected ways. As we wrap up 2014, what moved you this year and in what way?