As you may or may not remember, my oldest son in is the Army. We are obviously very proud of him.
To be perfectly honest, though, we weren’t sure he’d do at all well, especially through basic training.
Before he joined he was your basic spoiled suburban kid. More interested in video games and skateboarding than in deciding what he wanted to do with his life. He was 18, working a series of minimum wage jobs and not at all interested in continuing his education right then.
We had always told him that if he went to college, he could live at home until he graduated if he needed to. We would happily continue to feed, clothe and house him until graduation if need be, if that’s what made it possible for him to go to college.
Conversely, we also told him that if he wasn’t going to go to school, he needed to find a job that would pay rent, utilities, etc. on his own place. Of course, our hope was that our stand on the issue would be an incentive for him to decide on college.
Yeah. No. That didn’t really work out like we hoped.
So one night we had one of those hard conversations. The upshot being that it was time for him to shit or get off the pot (didn’t Shakespeare say that?), figuratively speaking. Either enroll in college or find a good paying job, because Bub, the gravy train, she is coming to an end.
He announced that he was thinking about joining the Army. I think maybe he was trying to bluff me out, given my prediliction for being an over-protective mother. Maybe he thought I would fling myself across the dining table and beg him not to do it. However, while I am still over-protective with my children, I’m trying to curb that impulse when it comes to the grown man who is my son.
One of our issues at the time is that he wanted to be treated as an adult and he felt I was treating him like a child. He was right. It’s very hard to make that transition, as I’m sure the older parents among you could verify. Part of the problem was that he wanted the rights of adulthood without the responsibilities. The other part of the problem is that I was/am in denial about my BABY being grown.
So. We talk to the recruiter, who did a masterful job of making the U.S. Army seem like Club Med, only better. That is his job and he was really rather good at it, I must say.
My son tested well on the ASVAB test, which enabled him, if he decided to join, to pretty much pick the job he wanted.
He made the decision to join and chose ‘Calvary Scout’ as his MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) (also know as JOB), in good part because Pookie was a Scout when he was in the Army.
He did well in Basic Training, but he was homesick and it was diffcult, as it was for every one the men he was training with. We missed him. So badly. His little brother most of all, I think. We joked when we went to visit him in the middle of Basic that we were really only the Little Brother Delivery System. He was happy enough to see us, of course, and we, him, but really, it was mostly about getting to see his baby brother (and how lucky are we that our older kids love their little brother so much and are so good with him and feel a stake in his future?).
So, now he’s stationed across the country and he’s…happy. He has friends, a girlfriend, a job, a life that only includes us on a peripheral level. Which, hard as it may be to accept, is really what raising your kids right is all about. Don’t get me wrong, he loves us and misses us. It’s just the way an adult living his life loves and misses the folks back home, instead of the way a child away on an overnight would.
He called yesterday, to let us know he’d received an expected promotion, to PFC. He also told us that he’d been bloodranked. As I understand it, this means that when they add a rocker to the chevron on the chest of his uniform they follow it up with a good hard smack, thereby causing the little pins to go into his skin under his uniform. Followed by everyone of equal or higher rank who had also been bloodranked doing the same to him.
This was something he’d hoped for, as it signaled the respect of his peers and those who rank higher than he does, and after all, isn’t that what we all want? Anybody comes close to me a stickpin, though, and POW, right in the kisser, Alice.
Now, it sounds a little barbaric to me, but this was such an honor for him, that he made a seperate phone call to Pookie to discuss it at length, because Pookie was also bloodranked back in the day and understood the honor.
He’s so proud of himself and we’re so proud of him.
He sent me a picture of his chest, and I promised to post it, so here it is, in all it’s blurry glory:
Although, it’s NOTHING compared to all the dog and cat (and snake and iguana and bird and so forth) bites and scratches I’ve had over the years.
I’m just sayin’.