Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I've Been Ripped Off!

My brother Tim arrived last night from England, and tomorrow I get the privilege of delivering him to the Missionary Training Center, where he will study for 2 months before heading to Santiago, Chile, to serve a mission for our church.  Because he lives in England, he did all of his pre-mission shopping with me in America a couple of months ago.  I thought it was so cool to get to prepare Tim for his mission, and then to cap it off, I would get to be the one taking him to the MTC.  They have a big room where the missionaries and their parents gather, maybe there's a couple of hymns sung or the MTC president says a few words, and then it's time for good-byes.  Tim and I are mature, so we wouldn't get all weepy and stuff; in fact, Tim thought it would be funny to stage a fake fight while everyone else is crying on their mommies' shoulders.

Then I woke up this morning and my dream of an MTC send-off went up in smoke.  On the front page of the Deseret News was this article, detailing the NEW drop-off procedures, effective today.  No longer the long good-byes; in fact, I'm not even welcome inside the building any longer.  The new policy is mandatory curb-side drop-offs.  Curb-side drop-offs!  Holy cow, even a pizza gets delivered with more attention! 

All this because of the swine flu.  I guess they're worried about this weekly influx of potentially contagious people all gathered in one room where they might spread their contagion through their weeping and wailing.  I suppose it's a valid point - there doesn't seem to be a better disease incubator than collecting thousands of people from all over the country, mixing them together for a few weeks, and then sprinkling them all over the globe to spread their message of peace along with their germs.   

Tim doesn't care about the new curbside drop-off policy one bit.  Ryan concurred - new missionaries are chomping at the bit to get started with this mission thing already, and even thirty more minutes of theatrics is just delaying what they are there for.  But, as I explained in a very gentle and loving manner to Tim, this isn't about you!!  It's a show for the parents, who are sending off their most precious possessions for two long years and is it too much to ask that they get some spiritual pay-off for their investment?  Some proof that this is a clean, safe environment with responsible adults that are going to take good care of our children?  

I know, I know - Emily, where is your faith?  Don't worry, I've got plenty of faith.  I've got buckets of faith, bushels and wheelbarrows full of it - I'm not really worried that they won't take care of my brother.  But it would have been nice, you know, to have a tiny little bit of pomp involved in dropping him off.  A smidgen of ceremony, a wee bit of formality for such a big occasion.  It's two years, after all, and it would be nice to have a slightly more impressive send-off.  Instead, I'm going to make him hop out while the car's still moving, and I'll chuck his suitcase after him.  Maybe I'll just hire a taxi, no reason for me to even be there, right?  

This is probably good practice for someone in the helicopter generation of parenting to get used to letting kids do things on their own.  But couldn't they have started next week, for next week's helicopter parents?  It seems incredibly bad timing that this change happens one lousy day before I got to take my brother, who I actually love, and see him embark on a life-changing experience.   I thought it was awesome that I got to be the one to do that with him.  Even though there's a 14 year age difference between us, we're pretty close, and I'm going to miss him.  It's hard to let someone go for such a long time, especially knowing how hard and challenging it's going to be.  

Oh, well.  What's done is done, and the less emotional side of me can see the logic of less pomp and more efficiency.  Maybe by the time one of my actual children goes on a mission, when swine flu is just the punchline of a joke, they'll have changed back and I'll get to enter the building with my boy.  But in the meantime, I have to make sure Tim is all packed.  It's a long walk to Provo, and he's going to have to get started soon if he's going to get there on time. 

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