So then…Chloe, age 9, tiptoes into my home office, stands before me, twisting her hands into pretzels. She can see that I’m answering work emails — and certainly the frenzied typing indicates how focused I am — so she hesitates a moment.
“What?” I ask.
“Well, um, I was just wondering…”
I click open an attachment and quickly glance at the contents.
She continues to stammer. “Um, I was thinking…well, since I’ve been going to religious education classes once a week at St. Catherine’s Church every year for the last few years….”
“Mmm, yeah…” I say distractedly.
She looks down and says, “And since I’m going to go to Catholic school for middle school next year, so we’ll have religion class every other day and Masses all the time there…”
“Uh-huh, yeah.” I hit Send to forward the attachment.
She asks timidly, “Well, I was just wondering if I could skip 5th grade religious ed. class and take a year off?”
WHAT? My head snaps up and I whirl toward her.
But I calm myself. No need to over-react.
I look at this child that we have faithfully shepherded through the sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation, and Holy Communion. This child that we have driven all the way over to very-far-away St. Catherine’s Church once a week for religion class. This child who is now asking to skip a year of religious instruction.
So I decide to say something inspirational.
I say, “Really? You want to take a “year off” from God? Is it OK if God takes a year off from you?”
Whereupon she flees from the room, distraught — no doubt convinced that her proposal would have led directly to the burning flames of hell.
I know. Tough love. But I had to do it. Her soul is at stake!
Of course, I follow her and calm her down — and gently explain the importance of continuity in her religious education.
Two days later, my carpool partner calls to say that her family is moving to a new neighborhood — so she won’t be able to split the driving duty with me over to St. Catherine’s religion class – so I’ll need to drive Chloe there myself EVERY week.
Um, Chloe? Chloe, honey, let’s talk about your idea again. You know, sometimes absence does make the heart grow fonder…
— Darcy Perdu
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(Any examples of tough love? Any activities you wanted your kids to continue but they were not QUITE as enthusiastic?)