dark ages

Discussion in 'Service Academy Parents' started by blackhawkmom, Jan 2, 2011.

  1. blackhawkmom

    blackhawkmom Member

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    OK I know its coming----please explain what and why it is so depressing and what can we do to ease the pain-lol-- for both of us the plebe and mom. Weather I get ---going back after such a long break I get -----but if the end is so close shouldn't they be happier? They are almost thru the 1st third(1/3 plebe summer-1/3 1st academic year-1/3 the other three years) or so i have been told. Just keeping the attitude adjusted. AND you were all correct --he is getting antsy ready to get back and get back to it.
     
  2. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    Here's why I found it depressing -- and IMO it's more so for plebes than other classes:

    (1) Yes, the weather -- it's literally cold, dark and grey on the banks of the Severn which is just plain discouraging.

    (2) You get first semester grades and, for most plebes, these are the first Cs and Ds they've ever received. Most plebes (unless things have changed dramatically) will have GPAs in the 2.0-2.9 range, which is quite a shock for people used to all As with a sprinkling of Bs. No one is getting those 4.35 GPAs and very, very few will be in excess of 3.2 (again, unless things have changed).

    (3) You've been home for 2 weeks (more or less) and been reminded how the "other half" lives. TV, civvies, electronics of all types (IPods, games, etc.), driving, eating what you want when you want. Now, you have to go back to an austere world where little to none of that is yet a privilege.

    (4) You talked to all your civilian friends who are taking a whopping 12-15 hrs of sociology and the "meaning of life" at their civilian college, getting a 3.8 and complaining how hard it is while they drink, attend frat parties, date lots of girls/guys, drive around, etc.

    (5) You're back doing chow calls and learning rates and cleaning your room and standing watch and . . . .

    (6) Spring break and Herndon (or Sea Trials or whatever Plebes now consider the end of plebe year) seems a LONG, LONG way away.

    Trust me, by March 1, things will be looking up. You just slog through it. THIS is why the plebe must be here for him/herself. It's your desire to make it through that gets you through -- little else.

    As for parents, be supportive as always. Maybe an extra care package or two. But the only "solution" to the Dark Ages is about 60 days . . . :wink:
     
  3. lovethenavy

    lovethenavy Member

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    Funny how we were just discussing the exact things that you are saying on our way back from 6 days at the Lake with 65 degree temps. DS says that his friends are all complaining about taking 14 credit hours and he has 18. We told him to just get through it. Put your head down and plow through. He also told us how darn cold it is in the midwest and insisted on having the fireplace on the whole time we were home. My daugher and I were opening all the windows, unbeknownst to him,
    We are resisting letting him think we feel sorry for him, just keep telling him that he got this far, to keep looking at the big picture. I agree....a few extra care packages and sending him off on the plane with his seabag full of Ramen Noodles! :thumb:
     
  4. jennyp

    jennyp Parent

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    My son (3/C) likes USNA. He loves being at home, civvies, home cooked food and lots of couch time, but he is always ready to return, even went back 6 days early (yesterday) to take advantage of an EC with Navy SEALS at Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base........but he says dark ages is dark, cold, and horrendous. Last year they had record snowfall. He and his friends went to San Diego and stayed with a mid buddy's family for Spring Break. He really wanted to be somewhere warm where he could be outside.

    As mentioned above, they slog through. Advice for getting through? Maybe more care packages.......silly, uplifting cards. It is only a couple months. Just be encouraging!:thumb:
     
  5. greeneagle5

    greeneagle5 Member

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    Dark Ages survival assistance

    Personally, I've made a solo weekend trip to USNA during the Dark Ages the last 2 years ( and have another plane reservation for next month), always with the hope that my Midn (and his shipmates) will be granted weekend liberty( it's a little easier now that he's a 2/C)....steak/seafood dinners in Eastport with his friends ( I listen and laugh), hotel bed w/ ESPN late into Saturday night, and a few hours of sporting clays at a nearby range again with shipmates (weather permitting) has seemed to be something he's really enjoyed ( I definitely have):thumb:

    GO NAVY,
     
  6. jennyp

    jennyp Parent

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    Great idea, greeneagle.
     
  7. blackhawkmom

    blackhawkmom Member

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    Great advice and great ideas---hoping for a sweet over night when we go up too. Question---hearing many mixed reports---tradition of Nerf gun fights and things like that. DS said mom i have no room! Got a travel monopoly game for him for Christmas thinking it was compact enough to take back-his favorite--no go/no time. Wondering how so many others have time for a little relief and others no so much. Are the companies really that different still!!!. DS says the mids on FB and playing around are either geniuses that dont have to study or mids who dont care and have either border line GPA's or are about to get the boot. Again its a mom thing -worrying about him not having ANY fun and worried too much about his classes. Told me he liked duty over exam week -it gave him peace and quiet to study because room was hard to concentrate in-lol. It may be me worrying about him making friends and enjoying it at least a little or it may be his determination to succeed.( Or its way harder than he wants me to know!)
    Still positive and still supportive-----yep-roller-coaster!
     
  8. jennyp

    jennyp Parent

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    When mine was a plebe, he didn't take anything extra to USNA after Christmas. No time for games and toys. Yet, when he and his four best buds were gathering their stuff to store at VA buds home over the summer, the parents from VA brought a U HAUL to get all the stuff to their garage. I saw my boys stuff when we took another jeep load to VA when I was up to visit at Herndon. He had a ton of stuff, including golf clubs (bought them used) Here I had been worried he was having no fun!

    blackhawkmom: They find ways to have fun. Google USNA snowball fight on youtube from last winter. Again, it is more about them figuring it out and us parents hanging out in the background until they tell us they need something.
     
  9. mumsyto3

    mumsyto3 Member

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    DS is headed back tomorrow with Nerf Guns and a lot of ammo for the big Nerf Gun fight they'll be having!
     
  10. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    As JENNYP stated they have a Ton of stuff at the end of Plebe year. Think every uniform item for all seasons for a full year. I was amazed and glad I put the cargo carrier on the top. Everything issued over Plebe year is not going to fit in the trunk of a Toyota or the small storage locker provided for Plebes. Next year they can take back summer and fall stuff and exchange items not needed at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Spring break. I think their computer is locked in the wardroom so that is not a problem.
     
  11. singaporemom

    singaporemom Member

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    Moving out of Bancroft at end of Plebe Year

    Since we are moving to Shanghai in 8 days and won't be there to help Plebe move out in May, are there places the kids can store there belongings for the summer? Local storage, etc?
     
  12. mumsyto3

    mumsyto3 Member

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    I sent you a PM.
     
  13. candidsmom

    candidsmom Member

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    I am also interested in what options they will have to store things this summer.....
     
  14. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    It's about endurance now!

    Ah, the dark ages. Whether your mid loves, likes, doesn't like USNA, the dark-age blues seem to hit everyone at one time or another, for long or short durations.

    In some ways, PS and fall semester are a series of sprints. In Plebe Summer it feels like that's ALL you do - even when you're standing still, at attention, during drill or inspections! Then football games in the fall sort of mark each sprint. The game is the finish line, and along the way are boards, rates (and getting rated at lunchtime!), pranks. These events, in my memory of plebe year, break the fall semester into shorter weekly chunks. There was my weekly chem quiz, weekly calc III quiz, weekly minute paper for comp, weekly nav quiz, weekly rate quiz, SAMI, Sat. morning training, and so on. Although we knew "the days" at every chow call and sure looked forward to T-giving and Xmas leave, they were pretty abstract and far off.

    Now, like USNA1985 also captured very well, you're back and things are different. There are fewer external motivators (it seemed). Sure, there are still inspections and chow calls and rate quizzes and come-arounds. Looking back on it, the way I'd describe it with a more adult-like perspective is that you are expected to be much more self-generating.

    Breaking up the routine and tedium when necessary is an absolutely essential skill to explore and master. There will be times when, as an officer, you sense that your people are tired, crabby, and not as efficient, safe, and productive as they could be. Learning to endure is important. So is learning to blow off steam, when necessary and appropriate. Encourage opportunities for novelty from your mids. If they're churchgoers, try a different church this Sunday. If they still have Sunday town liberty, take a walk to the Capitol. I even enjoyed short walks along some of the old, old streets and houses that had been there for 300, 350 years and thinking about the history. Go to a sports match you wouldn't usually attend. Get takeout delivered. Have nerf fights. Send a care package with small puzzles or Legos (I liked them because I could mess with them and Not. Think. for a while). If you're within reasonable driving distance, "surprise" your mid with a Saturday visit (to the extent that the "surprise" arrives with enough time to plan some liberty and make sure your mids don't have watch).

    One more thing. Attitude counts for a lot. It is really, really important. Many times, just changing your attitude changes your perspective and outcomes.

    BUT.

    Attitude is not the antidote to everything, and momentary "bad" attitudes are normal and expected. Sometimes, you just need to be grumpy, sad, crabby, impatient, tired, or frustrated (or all of those things!). If someone had a broken leg, we wouldn't just expect that person to will herself well, would we? Of course not - good attitude is only part of it. Everybody has their "IHTFP" moments or days or weeks. This too shall pass, but for now, it is what it is. So, let them be crabby and down and full of angst. "Cheer up" was about the last thing I wanted to hear. But have faith: it's temporary. And, one of the really neat lessons you learn, whether you are aware of it or not, is that you can function and be effective regardless of your feelings. That's a pretty cool (if hard-won) life lesson.

    Be well, all,

    LAP
     
  15. jennyp

    jennyp Parent

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    Midshipmen are very resourceful. They will have sorted out the options available to them......storage at a commercial facility, sponsor family, friend's family, etc. Do not worry about having to show up and jump in and take care of it all. Your mid will make arrangements and let you know what your level of involvement needs to be.
     
  16. MomoftheMagik

    MomoftheMagik Member

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    First, thanks to LongAgoPlebe! I'm glad my son, who was always so happy, isn't the only Plebe with a roller-coaster attitude!

    I'm also glad to hear that his QPR (What does that stand for, btw? Couldn't find it on the acronym list.) was in the upper range of what you mentioned! It was hard for him to get his first "C", but we were glad to see that his GPA was enhanced by his performance in other areas! (adding up, I'm assuming, to his QPR) Can't believe he got through that semester at all as he had a few too many ECs! Glad he dropped a couple!

    DS was depressed when he returned on Friday, mostly missing the GF, I think. He took back 2 Christmas "toys" with him...a vocoder and synth, for those of you in-the-know regarding music production. He is hoping those will help him get through some of the depressing moments. I hope so, too.

    One concern I have is that he is supposed to be going to Florida and Puerto Rico during spring break with the Glee Club. He said he might take his name off the list so he can come home that week. We are discouraging him from making that decision right now. I hope his friends will talk him into going on the trip! I think it would be a great experience, and who doesn't want to go to the tropics in March?!?

    BlackHawkMom, your son sounds EXACTLY like mine! (I'm thinking maybe they have a script of depressing things to say to the parents!:rolleyes:) DS says the same kinds of things...but I'm stealthy and have FB-friended some of his friends and company mates. He doesn't get online much, but they put up pics and such, and I see my DS smiling! Even though I hear all the depressing stuff, I know he is having some fun moments, be they few and far between. I think they keep him going!
     
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  17. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    MotM,

    I will bet folding money that your son saying he'd drop the Glee Club tour was his homesickness and attachment to you and yours, and that as he works his way back into his USNA family over the next couple of weeks, that conversation will evaporate! Glee Club trips are wicked fun (kinda exhausting, actually, but great, great fun!)

    One possible way to handle it might be to let it lie for a couple, three weeks, then a light but direct "Go to Florida" from you. :smile:

    (Did you collectively ever think the day would come just six months after your DS/DD started PS, you'd be saying, "No, no, by all means go do [X] instead of coming home! Oh, and don't call Sunday afternoon - your father/mother and I have A Thing.")
     
  18. blackhawkmom

    blackhawkmom Member

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    too funny- as a matter of fact i texted DS and told him not to call before 8pm we had plans ---6 months ago we would have been sitting by the phone waiting on it to ring! We are watching anything but comedy TV and reality TV ---not to mention eating what were want instead of cooking what they want----hmmmm some renewed adventures for the old mom and dad.
     
  19. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    JENNYP is correct: Plebes will find some storage facilities if they are not within Home range or local friends. It is a bulk of junk but not unmanageable (but more than a car load). A storage locker somwhere would probably be cheap for a short while during the summer after they stuffed everything else into their locker. Remember they will not need a lot of that stuff at Reform and in the Fall. Boxing and shipping FEDEX or UPS might be cheaper until needed in the Winter and Spring of next year. They can bring back the needed stuff after Thanksgiving and Christmas. They will know what they absolutely need by then. (Anyone need a new pair of Blueberies, never worn?)
     

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