Kid In A Box

I got my “Kid in a Box” from the Navy a couple days ago.

For the uninitiated, that’s the box of clothes sent home by Navy recruits after the first couple days of boot camp. Everything they were wearing or had with them when they arrived at boot camp is sent back home — wristwatch, phone, toothbrush, teddy bear and every single article of clothing. Even the lucky boxers.

I have a picture in my mind of newly-shorn recruits standing inside the box, stripping down, then stepping out buck nekkid into their new Navy recruit clothes. Or maybe it’s more like the “Left Behind” stories. They’ve disappeared — poof — from the Real World and reappeared in Navy World. That’s probably more like it to them because I’m sure those recruits are feeling very much out of control of their lives right now.

Some Navy Moms freak out when they get their box, especially if they’re not expecting it. One woman told me it took her a few weeks to muster the courage to open it. She was overwhelmed by how much she missed her kid and she knew this just might send her over the edge. Out loud I sympathized, but inwardly I was screaming, “They wore these clothes for three days! That box is toxic! Don’t open it inside the house! You’re endangering lives!”

This is the second Kid in a Box I’ve received and I see it differently. While it does gross me out a tad, it doesn’t freak me out at all.

I know it represents the shedding of his skin. His renewal. An epic transformation.

Don’t get me wrong. He was a fabulously stand-up kinda kid before he left home, full of good humor, maturity, and cocky 18-year-old confidence. But in a few weeks he will be more. He’ll still have all those qualities (although the good humor may have to be coaxed back after boot camp graduation), but he’ll also have Purpose. Everything he already was will be underscored by military bearing and shared history. His confidence will be earned by real achievement. He will have done things he didn’t quite believe he could do. And he’ll be marching straight down the path of his future.

Maybe that’s more symbolic than the Navy meant by sending me a box of dirty clothes, but they should really give me this. After all, I’m the one who has to do his laundry.

8 thoughts on “Kid In A Box

  1. margaret y.

    I loved this post, Becky! I just dropped my 12 year old off for two weeks of summer camp and I’m missing him like crazy. And while I know that the two situations aren’t remotely similar, I also know that in his own little kid way, mine is going to do some amazing growing up these two weeks.

    And so am I.

  2. beckycc

    Thanks, Margaret … it’s not really that different at all. It’s just on a different scale. Big kids, big changes. Little kids, little changes. (True of their problems, as well!) And moms? Well, we go through changes every single day that we can’t even identify. Enjoy your time apart … find a bit of your ‘Margaretness’ again. Trust me, your son will appreciate it too.

    Mandy and Betsy … thank you for your kind words. I’ve always said I have the bestest readers in cyberspace!

  3. Janet S.

    aaaahhhhhh!!!! i am getting ready to go through all this, my 18yr old son leaves 021612. thanks for all the information.

  4. Janiece Fowler

    Thank you Becky! I just received my “Kid in a box” today. My son left last Thursday for Navy bootcamp. Thank you for your perspective of the situation b/c I really needed to read that in the moment. Just happened to find it looking for pictures of recruits mailing stuff home on Google. As a Mom, you have really helped me to keep this in the right perspective.

    As a Navy Veteran of 8 years, I actually giggled as it took me back to my day of shedding my civilian life for a Navy life…and yes it felt like my world was out of control. Little did I know it would be the best decision of my life and it would help to create the person and mother that I am today.

    Your insight is amazing and inspiring……

    1. Becky Post author

      Thanks, Janiece! Good luck to you and your son on this roller coaster of a journey. Now go tackle that stinky laundry …


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