But, these darlings don't always obey and this is one of those times - they grow up in spite of my commands!
Each year, usually in January, we have a big dorm shift in the center. This usually coincides with what we call "reintegration," when families have been identified
Joao leaving to be reunited with his mom!
with whom the children can be reunited. This happens often when the kids are older and can fend for themselves a little. Or, we sometimes find accommodation for the older youth, off the center. So a trickle-down effect occurs, opening up spaces in each of the dorms, so kids move up from each of the dorms as well.
Usually around nine years old, my oldest boys move up to the next dorm. One year though, I had them til 11 and 12, just due to space issues!
This year, the boys moved a bit earlier than usual, last week in fact, so i will return to a very different dorm. It will be hard to not have the seven boys from Room 2 who were there when I left! Even thought they are only about 50 yards away, I will miss them!
I guess I can kinda answered both elements of this question - what happens when they grow out of my dorm and what happens when they grow out of our center.
Either way, transition is hard! For them and for me!
Here's a post I wrote earlier in the year when last years group moved up to the next dorm:
Well, when I see how big they are, I am amazed they were with Well, when I see how big they are, I am amazed they were with me in my dorm as long as they were! In January (so, I'm a little behind on my blogging!), my oldest boys moved up to the next dorm. As always, it was a sad day for me as I said "ate logo" or, "see you later" to: Antonio, Tome, Silavio, Fauso, Marcos, Fabiao and Joao (l-r, above and the same order for the following individual shots).
The last year with the boys of Room Two were definitely challenging. They were the oldest group I've ever had in my dorm (due to space limitations in older dorms) and were entering adolescence, a trying time, no? My age range was from 4-12 and it sometimes felt impossible. There were times I thought I would be cheering as they left rather than crying! But we survived and pressed on and there were many, many more wonderful times.
This time of year is always hard for me, I hate to lose my boys to the next dorm, even though it's only about 100 yards away. It changes everything.
Moving of the dorms always reminds me that try as we do, we are not a real family. I know there are age-related transitions in all families so I try and take great comfort in that. But my biggest comfort comes from the Lord who alone knows how to console me when I am weeping on my bed after sending the boys off with their bags of belongings. (Oh, the backpacks were presents, the bags of belongings aren't pictured!)
This year was especially hard as these are the last of the boys who were already living in the dorm when I moved in in 2004. They were the littlest ones then. So it's the end of a complete cycle for me. Most of them have been living in my dorm for 7-8 years so it was a bit traumatic for them as well.
But, as in most things, the lead up to the event was worse than the actual living it out. The boys have adjusted well to their new dorm. One of them wisely told me that although he misses our dorm, he's now glad he moved because it signifies that he is growing up! Most of them come over to the dorm nearly every day and a few have become helpers for the little ones. Come to think of it, even boys that moved out four years ago still pop round most days to say hello or, let's face it, have a jump on the trampoline!
Transition times always bring out the potential for great regret in me. Did I do enough? Hug enough? Talk, teach, impart enough? Shouldn't I have had them in to play rather than read that afternoon? Did I tell them the right Bible stories that they will carry with them? Did I teach them to read??? Have I been a good steward of the responsibility the Lord has given me over their lives?
Well, certainly I did not do ALL that I COULD have. But God is gracious and knows I'm not perfect! It's a good thing that these boys are his precious sons and he has all they could ever need and knows how to impart that to them. I thank God that he has allowed me to be a part of their lives and will continue to be as well!
Indeed, though, I do miss them in our dorm so much! Famba nai Jesu my little darlings!