One early September day in the faculty lunchroom of St. Mary’s Campus of Waukesha Catholic, several colleagues and I discussed delivering our college-age kids to school. We discussed the term “dropping off,” and how it evolves into different meanings as our children grow older.
It made me think about the importance of “dropping off,” the sequence – and necessity – of such a term.
When our kids are young, we “drop them off” at preschool or kindergarten. They are scared, and we as parents are terrified.
How could someone other than Motherbear and Fatherbear take care of our precious bear cubs? They have been with us for years and now we are going to drop them off to a complete stranger?
We have to have faith in the teacher and in God that the bear cub will be cared for in the best way possible. The routine and time apart becomes a part of life and after a few days of tears, the cubs (and parents) find peace in their hearts.
Elementary school consists of not only being dropped off for school but also being dropped off for lessons or sports practice or some type of extracurricular activity. Many times they are dropped off at a friend’s house to play. They are out of their comfort zone and on their own, guided by people other than Motherbear and Fatherbear.
This drop off is staggered and fairly unpredictable, depending on schedules and other cubs. How can we just simply drop them off into this situation?
We have to have faith in those individuals guiding them and in God that the bear cub will be cared for in the best way possible. This chaotic time apart becomes a part of their life, and parent and cub find peace in their hearts.
Then there is middle school, with even more intense activities for which they are dropped off. There are clubs and after-school activities and the often dreaded/anticipated first middle school dance. How do we respond to “Plllleeeasse drop me off away from the door! I don’t want my friends to see you!” How do we handle that tightening of our stomachs, realizing that for the first time they claim they don’t need you?
We have to have faith in those individuals guiding them and in God that the bear cub will be cared for in the best way possible. This more independent time apart becomes a part of their life, and parent and cub find peace in their hearts.
It is in high school when “dropping off” momentarily becomes “Can I take the car?” There is no need for us to get into the car and drop off. This is done simply by the phrase, “Yes. Be careful, and be home by 10.” How can we allow ourselves to hand the car keys to our precious bear cub, who, in our mind, is still in the third grade, yet stands 6’1”?
We have to have faith in all we taught them about driving and responsibility of having a two ton machine in their control, and in God that the bear cub will be safe. This more accountable time becomes a part of their life, and parent and cub find peace in their hearts.
We have blinked. The next thing we know we are packing up the corner of the bear den that belongs to a cub ready to embark on life’s lessons and the serious planning of their future. We drive them to an unfamiliar campus that quickly becomes their den. We unload carloads of freshly washed sheets, closet organizers, living items and a 20-pack of Ramen Noodles. They are scared, and we as parents are terrified. How could someone else take care of our precious bear cubs?
They have been with us for years and now we are going to drop them off in a completely new environment 24/7?
We have to have faith in our cubs and in God that they will be cared for in the best way possible. The distance and time apart becomes a part of life and, once again, after a few days of tears, the cubs (and parents) find peace in their hearts.
One of the final “drop offs” is a bittersweet one … dropping off our cub to join another in marriage. They are excited, and we as cub parents are happy, yet know that a part of our life is changing with this drop off. We walk them down the aisle, and within an hour they are starting the cycle of dropping off that we did oh so many years ago.
How can we simply walk down an aisle and with a kiss and a hug let them go? We have been such a part of their life all of these years! Are they ready? Can they do this? Can they be the bear and no longer the cub?
We have to have faith in their decisions and in God that the bear cub will be cared for in the best way possible. The reality and time apart becomes a part of life and, as bittersweet as it is, parent and cub find peace in their heart.
As the school year has started, we are realizing the new “drop offs” for our cubs. With every drop off comes a life lesson in faith and trust in those around them, but mostly in God. That is why the sequence of “the drop off” is the way it is.
It starts small and scary; yet with every drop off, the bear cub learns and grows, and we as Motherbear and Fatherbear find peace in our hearts because God is with us the whole time.
If we think about it, Mary experienced the ultimate “drop off” when she witnessed her Son’s suffering those dark hours before his death. Her faith in God was put to the test. Yet it was this faith that gave her strength to make it through those unbearable hours.
An incredible lesson in faith can be learned from Mary’s strength and we can implement each “drop off” with peace in our hearts.
(Michele, a mother of three, teaches fourth grade at Waukesha Catholic School, Waukesha. She is married to Deacon Scott Campbell who serves at St. William and St. John Neumann parishes, Waukesha.)