Category Archives: Navy Bits

If Navy Graduation Is Measured in Tears, Then This One Was AWESOME!

I know this is a bit long, and normally I’d break it into two or three posts, but people are bugging me to tell them all about it. So I’ll let you choose to read it all at once, or in three chunks, or not at all. All are acceptable, none is wrong. In case you weren’t bugging me, it might be fun to read every fourth word, but I make no guarantees. I’m just sayin.

First, two random impressions of my five days in Chicagoland … One, sailors are unfailingly polite, despite having been yelled at and called names for the past two months. And two, Chicago should be called the Most Ironic City because it’s full of potholes AND road work.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

We landed at Midway around 12:15, picked up our luggage and scooted over to the car rental where we got our car before we even had a chance to complain about anything. Which is funny ”” well, to me, because I’m kinda mean ”” because at the graduation, I was chatting with someone who said when they landed at 1:00, all the rental cars at Midway airport were gone!

A friend of ours (thanks, Lisa!) suggested if we wanted real Chicago food, we should go to Superdawg which was established in 1948 by a GI recently returned from WWII.

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He and his wife built it and created the recipes, but they only meant to be in business for two years. It became so successful, it’s now run by one of their sons who helped direct me to the correct door. I explained we were tourists and were told to visit Superdawg and he took us under his wing. He told us how to order, what to order, and all kinds of fascinating tidbits about the place. They still have carhops who brave all kinds of weather and he told funny stories about all the movies they were almost featured in. They hand-cut all their fries ”” and we’re talking crinkle cuts! His dad invented a special tool the three full-time French fry makers use. (Three. Full-time. Crinkle cutters. Your job looks pretty good now, eh?)  He even bought us milkshakes! We had lots of fun and quite possibly the best darn dawg I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet, once I found it under the ginormous pickle. Still not sure what the neon green relish was, though.

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Because I wasn’t sure how much time we’d have with our new sailor, or if we’d get back to Chicago over the weekend, I planned a route up Lake Shore Drive. It’s a beautiful drive through a gorgeous part of Chicago. And it was an inspired decision, because we didn’t get back to town except to catch our flight home.

The Great Lakes Naval Station is in North Chicago, about halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee, right on Lake Michigan. We dodged potholes and orange cones and finally made it to our hotel, which was perfect. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen and living room.

On our way out to dinner, we stopped in the lobby to ask a question, and found out the hotel hosted evening socials during the week. So we grabbed a table in the corner and ate meatball sandwiches and salad and drank beer for awhile. Free beer is so delicious. Our table was next to a group of about ten people. I suspected they were some of my Navy4Moms (N4M) peeps but waited till I was done eating before saying hello. We had a fun meet-and-greet with three other Navy families.

It was really hard to sleep that night. I woke every couple of hours, trying to use the awesome power of my mind to make time move faster. Unfortunately, I must have forgotten to pack the awesome power of my mind because minutes …… went …… so …… slowly! But finally, the time came when we could leave for graduation and not be ridiculed. I had read a story on N4M about a mom who was so antsy and worried about getting to graduation that she showed up at the gate at 4:30am. The MPs told her to come back in two hours. So she went back to her hotel and sat in the lobby trying to harness the awesome power of her mind to make time move faster.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I will only admit to being ready a half hour before we needed to leave, so we went to the lobby in search of coffee. Even though they said breakfast wouldn’t be set up that early, it was and we took full advantage. Because we searched out the correct gate the day before, we drove right in and were directed to our first security stop. There was a portable dark-windowed security tower watching us from above, K9 patrols inspecting us from below, and lots of very polite, slightly scary MPs directing things. They scrutinized our IDs, then sent us on our way to another parking lot. We passed several MPs who aimed their M-16s at us. Intimidating! We parked where they pointed then gathered our cameras and binoculars to walk to a building across the parking lot. We left our jackets in the car because even though it was only 6:30am, it was already warm. (Remember this info because I will re-visit it later in the narrative. Blog foreshadowing is not nuanced.)

As we entered the building there was a huge sign that said “Welcome Aboard.” For those of you keeping score, this was the first episode of crying for me. (I almost cried when I saw the coffee in the hotel lobby, but I managed to hold it together.) We snaked our way through the roped Disney-esque lines to another security checkpoint. After checking our names against his guest list, he waved us through. (This marks the second episode, but I had to hide this one as my family was already making fun of me.)

I thought this was where the graduation would be held, but I was wrong. We went out the building, and across muddy construction zones of torn-up sidewalks to another huge building where we stood in yet another line to enter a side door. When we finally got into this building, I saw a rectangular interior that was a cross between a gymnasium and an airplane hangar. Bleachers hugged one long side at both floor and balcony level, and the short ends had balcony seats. Colorful semaphore flags ringed all three sides. The other long side had several small doors, three large projector screens and an enormous garage door which I knew was where the graduates entered. (Third crying episode.) The room was labeled with the numbers of the graduating divisions. 167 was at the far end. We chose seats in the last row of the floor level bleachers so we could lean against the brick wall behind us. We were in our seats by 7am but we were certainly not the first people in the hall. The graduation was to begin at 9:00. Seems early, but there’s an exponential delay getting through the parking and security lines and I knew that 750 graduates meant about that many cars and 2,000+ people. Plus, I was antsy.

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As we walked the length of the hall, there were sailors standing in their dress blues at each of the Division signs. I noticed two at our Division wearing nametags with names I recognized from Adam’s letters, so I stopped and introduced myself. They both smiled like we were old friends and said nice things about my son. I asked why they were there. Turns out they were award winners. The short one was an Honor Graduate and the tall one won the Academic Excellence Award over all the recruits.

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As their reward, I guess they got to stand there for two hours before the ceremony. (This might have made them cry, but they’re sailors and don’t go in for maudlin displays.)

Before the ceremony, the Navy band played lots of Sousa because Lt. John Philip Sousa left his civilian band to train musicians at Great Lakes. He created 14 regimental bands totalling about 1,500 members. Sometimes all of them would play in concert, drawing huge crowds of civilians to the base. They also entertained us with videos about Great Lakes, the Navy, boot camp life, Battle Stations, and other aspects of Navy life. I re-read my program for the umpteenth time, getting choked up each time I read they’d be singing the Navy Hymn. (Crying episodes four through eighteen.)

Finally, the ceremony started. They rolled open those garage doors and you saw the feet and blue clad legs of Division 166. My eyes swam again ”” as they are while I type this ”” and 166 marched in to the roar of the crowd. Adam’s Division 167 marched in right behind them and I tried to find my sailor but couldn’t. I didn’t mind, I knew he was there. They were in perfect precision, which might be redundant, but if you’ve never seen military men march in precision, there is perfect and there is not. This was perfect.

I watched as they marched the length of the viewing stands. I knew without turning my head whenever another division passed through the garage doors from the huge cheer that erupted above and beyond the sustained cheering of 2,000+ proud friends and family. Even the most cynical and stoic couldn’t keep their emotions checked. I’m fairly certain I wasn’t the only one having an episode. They marched in front of the stands then turned the short corner and traveled across the back of the long side, ending up as Division blocks, near where the signs had been placed on the floor before the ceremony. This is about half the graduating divisions.

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I gave my younger son the binoculars with the plea, “Find him!” He did, pointing toward the front when I had been looking in back. In the picture below, he’s smack dab between the yellow flag and the red, white and blue flag.

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All the years when he played tuba had conditioned me to never expect to see him at any public performance. I trained the binoculars on him. He resembled the kid I sent to boot camp in February, but THIS kid wearing a perfectly fitting uniform and traditional sailor cover on his head looked amazing ”” right down to the “attention face” he wore. (They call their cover a “Dixie Cup” but I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t.) After all the Divisions were in place, they got a snappy command and were on the move again, this time turning

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and flipping the entire division so he was in the back. Very cool, and thank goodness he bought me a video of the ceremony so I can see it again in two months to figure out how they did it. In the photo above, he’s toward the center, but it’s like he’s the extra person in his row so he’s one person closer to the audience. (What do you mean, they all look the same?!)

The rest of the ceremony was ceremonial ”” flags raised, lowered, and dipped …

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sabres pulled theatrically, catching the light … rifles tossed …

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drummers drummed … and, of course, the Navy Hymn. (Crying episode nineteen.)

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bnm-4kSLKdI]

There was a short speech by the Reviewing Officer where he welcomed the new sailors to the “greatest Navy in the history of the world.”  (I found out later that comment choked up my new sailor which also produced episode twenty for me.)

Then they called “Liberty!” and chaos ensued. If it was a baseball game instead of a dignified, formal ceremony, you’d call it a bench-clearing brawl. Aw, who am I kidding? It WAS a bench-clearing brawl! As God is my witness, I saw at least a dozen middle-aged women knock over men twice their size to reach their sailors.

And I’m sorry if I hurt anyone.

My daughter got to him first and I had to whack at her to get at him. I’m rarely speechless, but there were simply no words at that moment.

Soon enough, we were swept out the garage doors with the rest of humanity across the base to where we began the morning. Adam had to run to his compartment to get some things so he pointed to a tree and said, “Wait there for me.” So we did, watching the happy reunions all around us. As we waited under our tree on a bit of a hill I had a clear view of the long sidewalk running across the base toward their barracks. They all looked the same so I wondered if I could pick out my sailor by his walk. I studied the sailors returning to their waiting families. That one? No … maybe him? No. Then, as if he had a neon sign pointing at his head, I saw him. He had a new swaggery bounce to his walk and I wondered when that happened.

When he joined us, he said he had to be back at his compartment by 12:30 to catch the bus to the other side of the base where he had to check in for A-School with his new orders. That gave us about ninety minutes to buy me a Navy Mom t-shirt and for him to show us Recruit Heaven where he made phone calls and got to eat at Taco Bell after Battle Stations. We ran into lots of his buddies, most of whom were scattering across the U. S. I felt so lucky that he was staying at Great Lakes so we’d have more than just an hour or two with him. Those other moms get a higher place in heaven.

As we were walking around, I was behind him at one point and, in a motherly attempt at embarrassing him, I said, “Your butt looks GREAT in that uniform.” He flashed me a grin and said, “I KNOW! Right?” He told us later that as part of his check-in he got weighed and measured again and he gained 20 pounds at boot camp. I think it ended up all across his shoulders. Not an ounce of fat on him.

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We went back to the hotel to wait for his call to come pick him up … which took for-freaking-ever. Too bad when he called he had no idea where he was! Luckily, one of his roommates gave us directions to the correct gate so we hot-footed it over there. But he was not to be found and even with our parking pass, we couldn’t come on base without him so the guard made us turn around. Before we got back out the gate, though, there he was on the sidewalk. Just past the gate, he hopped in the car.

He said, “Guess when I have to be back?”

I expected 9pm, which is when liberty normally ends.

“Nope! Sunday at 2145!”

We had him all weekend! (Crying episode twenty-one and hysterical giggling episode one.)

We were all starving so we went to dinner, then back to the hotel where I wanted pictures of the uniform he had changed into. He made sure to tell me he’s not supposed to salute me, nor is he supposed to wear his cover indoors. But today, Mom rules trump Navy rules. At least for photographic purposes.

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He was thrilled to reunite and commune with his computer, his iTunes and his phone. I think I heard him whisper loving and soothing words to them.

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We ended Friday night with a rousing game of Uno and the knowledge breakfast was served until 10am.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Remember when I mentioned the weather earlier? We couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous day for the graduation, but all Friday night and all day Saturday it rained, alternating driving downpours with steady drizzle. Did we care? Absolutely not. We played Life and Uno. We watched tv. We listened to Adam’s iTunes. We watched in awe as he ironed his uniform and his t-shirt. In boot camp they had to iron on the floor because of problems with ironing boards breaking so it was a real treat for him to stand and iron. Hearing him talk about his uniform was interesting. He showed exactly how all the buttons and seams had to line up and the special way it gets tucked in. Definitely not the same kid I sent off in February.

As a surprise, I brought some pajama pants, his favorite Flogging Molly t-shirt and his slippers for him to wear in the hotel room. I knew he couldn’t go out without his uniform, but I thought he’d appreciate having some comfy clothes. Imagine my surprise when I found out he loved wearing his uniform!

He played on Facebook, texted and chatted with friends, and checked his email. The only thing on the agenda was a bit of shopping for some things he’d need for A-School. When there was a break in the weather, we went back to base to look for the Navy Exchange (NEX). He bought a pair of jeans, more white t-shirts, shampoo and other necessaries. Then we quenched his Chipotle craving. Then back to the hotel for more hanging out.

Never has a day of doing nothing been spent so well.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rainy again today, but who cares? We ate a leisurely breakfast after Adam ironed his t-shirt ”” again ”” then played a rollicking game of Scrabble. We used two bags of tiles so we had quite an impressive board by the time we finished.

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The maid conveniently came to clean our room just as the game was winding down and the rain had conveniently stopped, so we took the opportunity to conveniently leave the hotel. I had seen a brochure about a heron rookery, so that’s where we headed. We found it, saw a lot of giant nests in the top of trees, but couldn’t quite find the parking lot. Or the entrance. Or any of the herons. But that’s okay, because our next stop was for authentic Chicago-style pizza from Lou Malnati’s. (Again, thanks Lisa!)

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We couldn’t quite find it either for awhile, but we kept trying as we were more interested in it than in herons. Eventually we found it, and since it was only a carry-out location, we took dinner back to the hotel. Delish. Now we’ve had Famous Ray’s pizza in Manhattan, and Lou Malnati’s in Chicago, so we can cross “pizza” off our life lists.

After dinner, we played another few rounds of Uno, which, with us, can be variously described as Retribution Uno, Full-Contact Uno, and/or Xtreme Uno. After our wounds were dressed, we watched some tv, but all-too-soon it was time to get Adam back to base. He’s in a more dorm-like setting now. There are three corpsmen in his room, two in another and all five of them share a bathroom. They have a kitchen and living area with a three-quarter size refrigerator, sink and microwave. Elsewhere in the building is a tv room and a large workout room with weight equipment and cardio machines. And hopefully a chow hall.

His roommates are all in different stages of their Corpsman A-School ”” two will be leaving in a few weeks, two will be there for a couple more months, and Adam will be there at least until August. New sailors go from boot camp graduation to their A-School, which is where they learn the basics of their new job. As a new corpsman, Adam will have the option of going to C-School for further, more specific training, or to the fleet where he will provide medical services to other sailors on his ship ”” shots, dispensing cold and flu care, attending to injuries, and, you know, checking guys coming back from shore leave.

Okay, yes, I cried when we dropped him off too. Big surprise. But not until he walked away, ramrod straight in his new sailor posture, stepping bravely into his new life, nervous but enthusiastic about his next challenge.

Since watching him walk away, I’ve had the Navy Hymn in my head constantly. There have been many new verses written for it throughout the years. This one is from an anonymous author in 1955, and I’m dedicating it to my new sailor and all those who created the wake he’s swimming in now, and for all those swimming behind him.

Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
And those who on the ocean ply;
Be with our troops upon the land,
And all who for their country stand:
Be with these guardians day and night
And may their trust be in thy might.

Man Your Battle Stations

My son’s Navy boot camp experience is coming down to the wire ”” only about another week-and-a-half ”” so I thought this would be a good time to post some interesting boot camp video I recently found. It goes into more detail than what I’ve seen before.

Part one …

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdHt56NdERo]

Part two …

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYREP-35Ylk&feature=related]

One of the last remaining training exercises for his Division is something called Battle Stations. For 36 straight hours, the recruits use what they’ve learned so far in boot camp to solve simulated disasters, all based on actual Navy emergencies, like the attacks on the USS Cole and the USS Tripoli.

When they pass this milestone in their basic training, they get to exchange their “Recruit” caps for “Navy” caps. They’re exhausted and proud and it’s a very emotional ceremony for them.

I think my son’s Division is going through Battle Stations beginning tomorrow night, so, in his honor, here’s the Battle Stations video too.

Do you think you could do it?

Yet MORE Boot Camp Lines

I hope you’re enjoying these. I know I do. But after yesterday and the day before AND the day before that, alas, I’ve run out.

Enjoy one last batch ….

“Get yer @#!$%^ knees off the deck, this ain’t the @#$%^& Air Force!”

“This place is one giant OCD prison.”

“The days feel extremely long because they are.”

My boyfriend wrote…”I got to call cadence today in formation, it was AWESOME!!” Then in his next letter he wrote, “I’ve been made Master At Arms. I guess the chief didn’t like my singing cadences.”

“No more hour long poops. They call it Pump and Dump!”

“I’ve decided that the RDCs are trying to impose Stockholm Syndrome…….and it’s working!”

“I’m on Color Guard and it’s very important to NOT drop the flag. That ranks right up there with do NOT drop the soap!”

“I’ve learned that the recruiters are the salesmen and lawyers of the Navy.”

“Whenever an inspection takes place, not doing something is called an FFI. We hear it a lot. Well, while cleaning the head in the chapel, I overheard someone talking about when God told Abraham to kill his son, Isaac, and he didn’t do it. All I could think of was, “That’s an FFI!” It stands for Failure to Follow Instruction.”

“Mom, these people here have no souls.”

“And there is a guy who catches all the heat I should. He is my size and when we are both bald and wearing BC’s we look -IDENTICAL!! He is ugly as sin so that kinda bums me out!”
“My bunkmate is 30 , 6’5″ with banana fingers, from West Africa, and me a 5’8″ kid from a cornfield. Two days ago during an inspection I had a string on my collar and he kept pulling it because he knew I’d get yelled at. But his f…ing banana fingers were too big so he bit it off real quick. As you can imagine, I nearly pissed myself.”

“Hey mom, this is your new son…. but don’t worry, I don’t love you any different.”

“Chief is f$#*&$# hardcore and very fluent in profanity.”

“I love you more than I love shining my f*ing boots 🙂 ”

“Oh, funny. A bunch of guys just started singing I’m a Little Teapot.”

“As I write this, I’m wearing a work shirt nearly identical to my Office Depot shirt, sitting on ugly linoleum under harsh fluorescent lights feeling resentful toward my bosses. It’s like I never left home. Except at night I go home to 83 smelly guys and none of you.”

“I am making some friends, but they kind of decide who your friends are for you. I’m mainly friends with my bunkmates and the people I stand next to in our height line.”

“And then there’s [name deleted]. He was dumb as a brick. He says his recruiter told him that after boot camp he’d be permanently stationed in his hometown and as soon as he got here and discovered that wasn’t the case, he wanted out. He faked having asthma, tried to buy pot off of Chief, swore at the Petty Officers, and so on. But I actually miss him. It was like having a soap opera, always something new and interesting.”

“By the way, they are allowed to swear at individual people. I’ve been called f***face, a f-ing rock, and a f-ing dodohead. As I write, they’re drawing our division flag ”” an anchor with an eagle carrying a dodo skull, symbolizing our shedding of being dodohead recruits. It’s totally boss.”

“YAY! Mail call, then bed! Two of my three favorite things!”

“PS – why do they stuff the pepper if they know they’re going to make it soup? Wouldn’t it be easier to put the stuffing straight in the soup?”

Which was your favorite?

Even MORE Boot Camp Funnies

Because I know how much you loved them yesterday AND the day before ….

“Mom, I can sh–, shower & shave in 2 minutes or less!”

“They say it gets easier after week 3. It don’t.”

“Mom, sorry I forgot our address when we were sending our clothes back. I could only remember grandpas.” [ok… You’ve lived with your parents for how many years? Hellooo!]

“By the time this letter arrives you will already know what I wrote.”

“My birthday went alright. My RDCs didn’t find out.”

“P.S. You might get sick from reading this letter… I coughed on it.”

“The RDCs already know my name. I don’t think that’s good.”

“I’m head of the bathroom crew, so I clean up after 83 guys with the help of 8 others, so I kinda get it now.” [This after how many years of asking him to aim straight.]

“So the other day there was a group of us in the Head all squatting. We started singing ‘Bye, Bye Miss American Pie.’ When one of the RDCs showed up and told us to shut up. I bet he left laughing his a– off. Imagine walking into a bathroom full of grown men singing as they s—. Funny.”

My daughter sent us her top ten list (more like 50) of what she’d never forget was said at boot camp. Here are a few that can be repeated:
“You will stand at attention, and you will like it.”
“Good morning/afternoon/evening Chief/Petty Officer/Sir.” x 80
“Arm circles. Begin.”
“It’s not supposed to feel good.”
Petty Officers arguing about which way was faster to march around a perfect square from one corner to the opposite.
“Did you eat a bowl of stupid for breakfast?” (interchange stupid with dumb, idiot, moron, and of course breakfast with whatever meal had most recently passed)

“I think this place is basically Fat Camp, with a lot of swearing.”

I was always dragging my son back into a room he had supposedly already “cleaned” and telling him, “Look at this dirt! Can’t you SEE this?” My favorite line from his bootcamp letters was, “Everything here has to be perfectly clean. Mom, I finally got dirt vision.”

“I’m not even sure I know what MY first name is anymore!”

“I hope you got my first letter, I can’t remember when I sent it or what it said.”

“I have picked up dustbunnies, ironed underwear and spit on boots for hours.”

“Boot camp is a lot like jail. But in jail they let you have TV.”

“I’ve been stripped of my gender.”

“Seriously, the smell that comes from each of us is more foul than any man I’ve ever smelled, since we sweat a lot and we can’t wash our sweats yet.”

“The food is pretty good here and the staff in the chow hall is very friendly, although I have to admit there were a couple of times I had to pretend I was on Fear Factor and wolf something disgusting down as quickly as possible, because food is food now. Taste is often a bonus.”

“Mom, Please ask everyone to send me some mail. There are some guys here who get up to 5 and 6 things a day. Now, I know you can do better than that.”

After asking my son just what his job as port watch entailed, he gave a short description and added, …”and it’s stupid and boring, and it’s my job to make sure 44 people do it right.”

“I’ve decided it would take too much paper work and cost too much money to kill us, so we will survive.”

Which was your favorite?

More Funny Boot Camp Lines

Hmm … they’re not “more funny” than the ones I posted yesterday ”” they’re equally funny ”” but there are additional … oh, never mind. They might actually be more funny than previous ones, but we’ll never know until you read them, eh?

Enjoy!

My boyfriend wrote me about a division chaplain position he was hoping to get. These were his words: “I might get the chaplain job, we’re having a push-up contest.” Is that how they pick the division chaplain???

“Say hi to the dogs. I haven’t gotten a letter from them yet.”

“I got to have garbage duty. It was great because I got to go outside for 5 minutes all by myself. Good thing you guys trained me for this growing up.” I love how he said “got” not “had to”. I knew right then that my teenage son was now a man!

“Most the guys are sick. Their eyes are red and they are moving really slow. I feel like I’m in a bad zombie movie.”

“We had to put on all of our uniforms and get inspected after each one. It’s like a horrifying fashion show.”

“With all these buttons, you don’t want to wait until you gotta pee really bad.”

Keep the letters coming, I like to read them when I am pooping in the middle of the night while everyone else is sleeping.

After PIR [graduation], when we saw his RDC, not a large man, and quite a bit smaller than most of his recruits, and we asked how intimidating he was, our sailor replied, “Mom, when his nose is touching your nose, and he is screaming at you, and you can feel his spit on your face, he IS intimidating!”

“86 men, 30 minutes to shower in a room approximately 15 x 45 with 12 shower heads. You do the math.”

“I’m a great ironer, I get compliments on my creases.”

“We only know each other’s last names, no first names.” (This cracked me up, because growing up, he never knew anyone’s last name – talk about coming full circle!)

“FYI cursing is good because it gets our point across really fast, and speed is very important.”

“Oh, we got 3 more shots again yesterday and since I passed out the first time, I had to wear this big red sign around my neck that said “Fall Risk”!! I felt like such a dork!”

When my son was stuck on ship during Christmas, we were talking on the phone. All of a sudden he says, “Oh cool, my present is here. Merry Christmas to me!” When I asked him what he was talking about he said, “A whole busload of new recruits just pulled up, this is gonna be so much fun!”

“So tonight, my shipmates all passed around pictures of ”˜when we were pretty!’ No one could recognize me!”

“I’m already on their radar (and that’s not a good thing) because I’m the short one.”

“Guess what, Mom, it seems that I don’t have a bumpy head now that I’m bald.”

“Oh yeah, and we have to wear “tighty whities.” And they suck!”

“I could get some sleep if all the married men would quit crying.”

“Don’t ever let any of your children join the military ever again.”

“I’m having fun, I guess.”

“I go to chapel every Sunday. It’s like heaven in there. It’s the only place the RDC’s aren’t allowed to go!”

My son wrote his sister that “it’s like a home ec class from hell.”

When questioned about activities during bootcamp the correct response is always, “I have no excuse, Petty Officer.”

“This had better get better soon!”

“I look ridiculous bald, so I try not to look in the mirror.”

“There is a zero fun policy or something.”

“I’ve met a lot of interesting people here. That’s all I’m going to say about that.”

“WOW! Excitement just ensued! We had a fire drill just now, only I don’t know if it was a drill because there were no RDCs and fire trucks came and I think it’s kind of smoky, but I can’t really see.” Then he goes on about his letter, and then, “UPDATE: the fire alarm was set off in our compartment and I think I set it off. My bunkmate kept harassing me, saying my feet smelled so I sprayed foot spray and I guess the powder set it off.”

Which was your favorite?

Funny Lines From Boot Camp

I found a bunch of funny lines in letters recruits sent home from boot camp. Some are from my son, but I won’t tell you which ones. Don’t want anyone getting in trouble!

Enjoy!

“I guess not everybody appreciates ninjas.”

“If this is normal, I’m starting to think I made a big mistake.”

“The food is surprisingly good, but we don’t have time to eat it.”

“If you pee in the pool you have to do PT.” [physical training, ie, a gazillion push-ups]

“Mail call is like the ice-cream truck just arrived at the park on a very hot day.”

“I kinda wish I’d stayed at home.”

“I am trying to be a good little recruit but I still screw up.”

“Who loves me more…RDC or Mom?????” [Recruit Division Commanders, like drill sergeants]

My son had a friend from high school that got to Boot Camp a week before him and he had been looking for him. He wrote, “I’ll never find Travis ”” we all look alike!”

“Mom, I’m pretty sure the way the RDCs talk to us is illegal.”

” I’m gonna kick my recruiters @$$!! ”

My daughter wrote – “I need to break up with my boyfriend (back home). I have grown so much here. I am not the same as I was 8 weeks ago. Oh, and Navy guys are frickin HOT!”

Our son wrote to his sister that he and some of the guys made a top 10 list of why jail would be better than boot camp.

“I got issued BCG ”” birth control glasses. They’re so ugly no girl would look at you with them on.”

My son was telling me he was getting ready to go to church and I asked which one he went to. He replied, “the one with the free donuts.”

“So yeah, on Monday I got eight letters from you, a little ridiculous ”” half the mail was for me.”

“One good thing Mom, I’m not crying as much at night.”

“Some of the stuff is really boring. I screw up on purpose just so I get to do pushups.”

My son is going to kill me if he reads this… but in his first letter he wrote this :
1. Mom I’m constipated. I can’t go to the bathroom in front of 80 other guys!
2. My farts are so bad I’m preparing the compartment for the gas chamber exercise
3. Mom, I woke up with a Scooby Doo sticker stuck to my forehead
4. Please quit sending the Scooby Doo stickers.
5. Mom they lost my laundry! I have no tshirts and no underwear!
6. Mom, I’m trying to fly under the radar, are the Sponge Bob stickers necessary?
7. Mom, Knock off the stickers
8. Ok Mom who’s idea was it anyway to send me a card 3 feet long?
9. Mom you won’t believe where I found a sticker today. Yes, ladies… you guessed it … skivvies.
10. Mom these are the people you warned me about! [RDC’s]

“Week one in the showers everybody is so shy, but by the end, everyone is dancing around singing. I can’t wait to take a bath BY MYSELF.”

“All the guys look up or straight ahead. When someone says, ‘I’ve dropped my soap’-that’s your cue to NOT LOOK DOWN!!”

“This is nothing! Band camp was harder then boot camp!”

When my son came home after boot camp we were getting ready to go surprise his grandparents at church and I made the mistake of trying to iron his uniform. He said, “Mom, didn’t anyone ever teach you how to iron properly?”

He also asked if our hotel room had an iron so he could iron is white undershirt. When I told him we didn’t have one, you should have seen the look of concern on his face. I RAN to the hotel front desk to get the iron for him.

“Please don’t send musical cards. We have to do push ups to the song.”

“I wish I could hold you in my arms right now. Well actually not RIGHT now cause there are like 80 other guys sharing the same room with me but you know what I mean.”

“Mom I miss you so much can you send me a picture of my dog??”

“Today we got to have a pizza party! The RDC ate pizza and we did pushups until he was done eating.”

“Mom, you wouldn’t believe this but I volunteer to take out the trash just so I can go outside!!”

“Getting gassed is not as much fun as you’d think.”

Which was your favorite? Here are some more ….

Slipping Through My Fingers

So many people have asked me about the song lyrics from yesterday’s blog about my son that I decided to post the video here. It’s a scene from the movie “Mamma Mia.”

You’ll note the stage is set differently. That’s Meryl Streep, not me. And it’s her daughter getting married, not her son going away.

If you don’t cry when you watch this, you’ve never left home, or you’ve never had a mommy, or you’ve never had a child leave, or you are carved out of stone and aluminum with a heart fashioned from wrought iron. You know who you are.

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday was that before we left home, my son wandered through the whole house, telling me he just wanted to take it all in and remember it.

It was then that I realized he’d be just fine. He had already balanced on that teeter totter inside himself between knowing he wanted to leave but that leaving changed everything.

Something I couldn’t teach him.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ib-AZ3Sf3kg&feature=related]

If you can’t make the video work, here’s the link straight to YouTube.

The Navy Owns My Son Now

The phone rang at 11:18 last night. I told the operator I’d accept the charges then heard the quiet, composed voice of my nineteen-year-old son. He said, reading from a script, “I have to tell you three things. I arrived safely at Great Lakes. You’ll be getting a package from me in a few days. You’ll hear from me again in about a month. Now I’m supposed to say my goodbyes and I-love-yous. So goodbye and I love you.”

It’s official. He’s begun Navy boot camp.

It feels very indulgent to worry about him when other mothers are sending their kids off to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other hotspots around the globe. I’m only sending mine to Illinois ”” for now ”” but I’ve heard it’s a strange and often inhospitable place. Could be they’re only talking about the weather or the Statehouse (it is where Rod Blagojevich hails from, after all), but still.

It’s a bit surreal that my son is actually leaving. He’s been on the Delayed Entry Program since August so he’s been counting down the days. I’ve been counting the days, too, but probably for different reasons.

I don’t come from a military family so this is all very unfamiliar turf for me. New lingo, new protocol, new clothes. The lingo and the protocol I’ll leave to him, but I am looking forward to seeing him in clothes that fit. I’m expecting the Navy to finally get his pants to stay up over his skinny butt. Levi’s and Dockers haven’t been able to lo, these many years, so it’s obviously time for the government to step in.

People have been giving me well-meaning advice about his upcoming departure. One soul, bless her heart, tried to tell me it was no different than when I sent my older daughter off to college clear across the country. I smiled, nodded, accepted her advice in the spirit it was intended. But inside? Disputing her logic with every synapse firing in my brain.

First, I drove my daughter to college and we had a sparkly good road trip. I didn’t offer her up to strangers in front of a hotel at 4:30 am.

Second, I could call her whenever I wanted to hear her voice or give her some last minute advice or ask if she stole my favorite sweater. My son, on the other hand, won’t have regular access to a phone for ten weeks or so. The ten weeks, coincidentally, that he might need to hear friendly voices the most. But I’m fairly certain he didn’t take any of my clothes with him. In fact, he barely took any of his own clothes, and those he’ll ship back home in a few days.

Third, she had 24-hour access to the computer lab ”” even when she studied in London. We were only a couple clicks away from each other. Son? No internet, no computers, no mouse clicks.

Fourth, after she graduates she probably won’t be shot at by snipers or have to dodge laser-guided missiles. And the only pirate she’s likely to see is Johnny Depp as Cap’n Jack Sparrow.

After boot camp he’ll go to school to train as a corpsman, the Navy’s medics. I thought that sounded pretty safe … until I learned that Navy corpsmen follow the Marines. Wherever Marines are deployed, so are corpsmen.

I’m not complaining, though, really I’m not. I’m just pointing out that sending a loved one off to defend our country isn’t the easiest thing to do. In fact, it might be the hardest. So far. For me.

For his part, he’s excited and thrilled by his decision. He’ll get to see the world, he’ll learn real-life skillz, he’ll meet fascinating people, he’ll do honorable work, he’ll become a man.

I know he’s enlisting with mindfulness. He’s hip to what he’s agreed to. I just hope the government keeps their end of the bargain.

For every situation, and because this is BeckyLand, there are appropriate song lyrics, probably many, but these words from ABBA have been twirling around my brain lately. I’ve also posted the video of the song.

Schoolbag in hand
He leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye
With an absent-minded smile
I watch him go
With a surge of that well-known sadness
And I have to sit down for a while
The feeling that I’m losing him forever
And without really entering his world
I’m glad whenever I can share his laughter
That funny little boy

Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see what’s in his mind
Each time I think I’m close to knowing
He keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time

Sleep in our eyes
Him and me at the breakfast table
Barely awake
I let precious time go by
Then when he’s gone
There’s that old melancholy feeling
And a sense of guilt
I can’t deny
What happened to the wonderful adventures
The places I had planned for us to go
Well some of that we did
But most we didn’t
And why I just don’t know

Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture
And save it from the funny tricks of time
Slipping through my fingers

Godspeed, my love.