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Dad's Unpeeled Orange Message Will Make You Ugly Cry

The school year is finally drawing to a close. Students everywhere are getting antsy to get out of the classroom and get on with summer. Of course, for some students, this year will be more meaningful than others. The end of their childhood and the beginning of their years of independence. It can be a hard go of it, particularly for parents. After years of nurturing and caring, to say goodbye... it's a punch to the gut. But it doesn't have to be all bad, in the end. One dad's message with an unpeeled orange in his daughter's lunch perfectly signified that bittersweet next step, and gives us all an example of how we can cope.

Tom Sullivan, a Tacoma, Washington area dad, has been peeling oranges for his daughter Meg's lunches since she was in kindergarten. Meg is now 18-years-old, and getting ready to head off to university in the fall. On her last day of school, her dad sent her two, unpeeled oranges in her lunch bag along with a note describing how to peel an orange. He wrote on the note, "It's time, baby girl." At first, Meg thought the note was sort of funny (because she obviously already knows how to peel an orange) but then the message behind the note sank in. Her days of pre-peeled oranges are over... now comes adulthood.

Tom Sullivan was teasing his daughter, but at the same time he wanted her to know he understood she was hitting a new stage.

It was mostly in fun, but absolutely, it was, this is the end of one chapter and the beginning of another, where it’s going to be different. It represents all of the things she’s going to need to be doing on her own.

As for Meg, she told Buzzfeed that her dad's note struck a melancholy chord in her, and it made her take stock of the sort of parent he's been throughout her childhood:

I'm his last kiddo to leave for college this year, and you can tell he's really sad about it. He has always gone above and beyond and is easily the cutest and most caring man I'll ever know. It's gonna break my heart to leave him for college, no doubt.

She is heading off to study criminal justice at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix in September.

Goodbyes are hard with anyone, but with your kids... there are no words. You want them to grow and stretch and be. The goodbyes happen in increments, little tears in the seams of your everyday life. The last day of school, the last weekend at home; and that last peeled orange in the lunchbox of the person you love best in this world.