Yet another Newbie USNA Parent Question

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by Just Dad, Apr 11, 2016.

  1. Just Dad

    Just Dad Member

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    My wife is tuff; worked her way through Med School. Now she keeps folks alive while other people cut into them.

    She has been depressed the last couple of days, (tearing up now and then). She's been talking about how little time there is between the ends of school and regatta season before we take our daughter back for ID (about 2 weeks).

    Then today she put her finger squarely on what's bothering her:

    " Its not the short time left, its not 6 weeks worrying about how our daughter is doing. In her words "its that she is going to do the next phase of growing up without us. I'm not going to be there to see it. She will be different when she comes home. I won't get to see her grow, or help along the way, like I would have if she were at a regular college."

    I told her that she could alway occupy herself by seeing to it that I am comfortable, and that my wants needs were being fully met------------ but it didn't seem to help.

    So, heres my question: I still travel back East on business now and then. I don't go to DC much anymore but Boston/NYC are common stops in the neighborhood, ( at least as we see things out here on the West Coast). As a practical matter, if my wife and I were to visit Annapolis could our pleeb get off campus to have lunch or dinner with us? If we rolled into town on a Friday would we be able to have the day with her on a Saturday or Sunday?

    Not saying I want to hover around Annapolis, but we are loosing both Daughters to College this year and I can my wife just "Needing a Fix". She is one of my partners on paper, so she'd just be tagging along on a business trip.

    BTW: We are absolutely certain that the USNA was/is the best choice for our Daughter. We know it will give her the absolute best boost into adulthood. My wife knows this, its what she is feeling that's the problem.
     
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  2. Kwl

    Kwl Member

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    I know exactly how she feels. We have a DD who is currently a Plebe, and I can say, with certainty, that visiting often has helped me tremendously (and has been appreciated by our DD!). Often we will arrive on a Friday evening, and meet her for a quick dinner on the Yard. Saturday's can vary, but usually they will be free after noon for the remainder of the day and can leave the Yard. Sunday's they usually will have to stay on the Yard but you can visit. Of course, they have duty weekends, may have athletic obligations etc - all of which can change the schedule at a moments notice. Bottom line, the occasional visit if you can manage it, is good for everyone. And seeing their growth with each visit is good for the soul, and warms a mom's heart! Congrats and best wishes to your daughter and your family as you begin this wonderful journey.
     
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  3. EOD/SEALmom

    EOD/SEALmom Member

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    See, now THIS is why I had five kids. After all the years I spent with 2 or 3 kids in diapers at a time, I'll be doing a happy dance the day I have an empty nest! ;)

    All joking aside, I feel for your wife. From a mom perspective I'd suggest limiting your visits to as few as she can stand - if only because she really does need to cut the cord at some point. Not to be harsh, but four years from now she'll be on active duty...and it will not likely be possible to visit often, and sometimes not at all.

    Again, I'm not trying to be harsh. But maybe take these four years to ease your wife into a life without seeing her daughter for longer and longer stretches at a time. Plan a nice couple vacation for just you two or take up a new hobby you can share. Rekindle the life you had before kids. Enjoy your "new" life together while your daughter flies into the world as the great person you raised her to be!
     
  4. WithYou2018

    WithYou2018 Member

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    EOD/SEAL Mom is offering sound advice. Plebe Year experiences are intended to begin the process of building your DD into a future officer entering the fleet, which by design separates her from prior home support, and begins building her reliance upon peers in your stead. Although maybe not intended, it also begins training and preparing you for your role as a Navy family. I am not an expert, only a believer based upon first hand experience, so I can only advise you to trust the system and its methods. The highs of seeing her rising confidence and swagger when she visits home over Christmas break will make up for the lows and absence experienced the previous months. It not easy, but so worth it. Your state/region parent club veteran members and a few supportive experts within the USNA parent community are ready to support you on what is best described as a "roller coaster ride of emotions" that begins I Day and continues intensely as long as she remains in the fleet.

    Having prefaced it above, in answer to your question, yes, but. Your DD will be stressed to and beyond her limits, especially in regards to time management. She won't have time for many visits, unless she foregoes her responsibilities. She will, however, need timely messages of support and encouragement from home (and perhaps if needed a visit or two timed for her support...not yours), and to know that the real world there is thinking of her. Permissions to visit will come only when she is granted Yard Liberty (usually Sundays), and when granted the occasional Saturday afternoon-evening Town Liberty (usually after home football or other varsity sport wins---another reason for her to become a sport fan, but that is another story). These are times best used by her to strengthen bonds with her new peers. She will eventually rate (as determined by her company) permissions to video chat (Oovoo...no Skype...a security thing) with you at home from her dorm PC, and eventually, as she earns the rates she will gain nearly unrestricted access to her cell phone.

    So, immediately join available parent clubs. A listing is available through the USNA Alumni Foundation, or just Google to locate their web sites. Join the Facebook closed parent communities. Just as she is running and preparing for Plebe Summer, begin preparing yourselves for the roller coaster ride.

    Oh, by the way...congratulations and welcome!
     
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  5. landlock

    landlock Member

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    To disagree a little with EOD/SEAL and withyou2018, I was impressed with how much our daughter had liberty, and wanted to have us visit or bring plebes home to us 3 hours away. Much more than I expected (due to such a winning football team?!!!!) She is thriving there with many friends and good grades. Most importantly I would play it by your plebes wishes and not go when not asked, but you may find you can see her more than you thought. And no, she can not go off the yard without liberty/leave. Be as flexible as you can from a distance. Get a hotel for PPW. Definitely try to go to Army-Navy game. We had a hotel room ready and they did get leave overnight leave. She got a much needed night off, great food in Philly (next year in Baltimore I believe) and we drove her back the next day....and by the way one of a plebe parents best events watching your child march on. She will need time to be on her own and grow great friendships without hovering parents but you will have great times next year with her. We see her more than her twin who is in a civilian college in NYC. And congrats on the appointment!!
     
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  6. EOD/SEALmom

    EOD/SEALmom Member

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    *Full disclosure - my DD was turned down by USNA. So I don't know how often Plebes have extra time to share. But I'm pretty confident that at some point your kid has to fly without mom....and mom has to find another jet to fly.
     
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  7. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    As the years progress, mids "rate" more and more privileges.

    For plebes, Town Liberty means the ability to go off the Yard. Yard Liberty means they are free to entertain family and guests on the Yard. Leave is something different, of course, akin to going on vacation. "Overnights" and "weekends" are Town Liberty with being away from USNA overnight thrown in.

    Plebes typically have town liberty on Saturdays for a specified period of hours. It can begin sometime in AM or midday, and expire that night. In the past, it's ranged from 10 PM to 1 AM, depending on the philosophy of current leadership. It begins after a football game, though occasionally if they start late enough, there may be a few free hours before. Sundays are Yard Liberty, where plebes are free to see people but can't leave the Yard.

    Three day weekends usually are town liberty Sat-Sun (yay!) and Yard liberty Monday. Great time to plan a visit - if your mid green lights you. The January and February ones are during the Dark Ages period between winter and spring breaks, and can be a real mood-lightener.

    There will be duty weekends, with no liberty at all. There will be varsity sport practices or mandatory fun events which delay or cut into available liberty. Depending on how the mid has adapted to workload and their time management skills, some may not take every available ounce of liberty, because they are simply too busy.

    There will be unplanned weekend overnights, perhaps granted after a sports event, or an earned weekend here and there.

    Mids rate more liberty and weekends as they move up in class. Being academically unsat or unsat in other ways, or on restriction for conduct purposes (oops) can impact that. They also become very, very good at time management and have the place wired after the first year or so.

    During the week, mids run (sometimes literally) from class to sports practice to chow to PT to library to class to parade practice to mandatory fun to - well, you get the idea. It's well known SA grads can eat faster than any other humans on the planet. My DH will be half way through his dinner while I am still buttering a roll.

    Bottom line, mids figure it all out and will be able to tell parents, whether near or far, good times to shoot for. Over our years of sponsoring mids, we have seen parents inadvertently add to their mids' stress load by pushing too hard to visit, when the mid needs to focus on academics or would simply like the freedom to go hang with new friends, but feels pressured to see parents. Every family has a different dynamic; every mid has different ways of enjoying family visits.

    I would guess your spouse is anticipating the separation and is experiencing a mini-cycle of grief at the impending loss of daily access - understandable. Cliché advice - stay flexible (Semper Gumby), just be in the moment with your DS/DD without piling on worries or anticipated challenges and know that it will get better. It is indeed a great time to create new patterns of enrichment for yourself as your hands-on parenting time draws down.

    As has been said many times on these forums, you taught your child to fly, now let them soar.
     
  8. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Not a direct answer to your question, but here's some suggestions...
    1. Facebook... a great way to keep in touch. Sometimes I'll just share something with my DS that I know he'll enjoy. I probably won't hear back from him but it's still a way to feel connected.
    2. Participate on these forums. Another way I remain connected to my DS.

    As someone said it's hard now, but wait until the go on active duty. We could visit a few times a year during college but I'm only hoping for once a year now with him across the country from us.
     
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  9. Dadof2

    Dadof2 Member

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    As the dad of a current Plebe (DD), my advice is make the offer to visit and leave it up to her to let you know when the time is right. Plebes have a busy, unpredictable schedule so it's tough to plan too far ahead. Let her know you are there for her when the time is right, but don't unintentionally add the pressure of her thinking you really need to see her. Every once in a while when our DD is free we make the trip and get her off the yard for Saturday afternoon/Sunday morning. You can tell the break is nice for her and it's always good to see her.
    The toughest part as a parent is Plebe summer and the start of classes since you are almost completely out of touch with your Plebe and everything is new so you don't really know what is going on or how he/she is doing. No question it's a tough road and has it's ups and downs for both Plebe and parents. But she, and you, will figure it out.
     
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  10. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    As a grad I will add, you will be needed as parents. There are highs and lows of Plebe Year. You won't understand all the lingo, why they are having a hard time or what it all means, but more than anything they will want to vent. Just encourage them and support them. They don't need it fixed, they just want someone to listen. They will equally share the highs also as they start to get more confident. I think every single one of us after we had our service selection called our parents. Many Plebes lose a little of their personality during Plebe Summer. Just ride it out. It all comes back as they adapt to their new world.

    As far as visits, let her guide you on what is best. She will be a little shaky on how it all works the first few weeks of the academic year, but as she does her first duty weekend, classes get settled in, a football game or two, they will get the hang of it all. Most Mids will be happy to have parents come and visit some of the time. Talk with them and figure it out together. As a basketball player my parents always came for a week when we played 3 home games or we did a road trip with 3 games. I always loved having my parents there, but they knew I had classes, homework, practice, walk thrus. My parents would come watch practice and our walk thrus. They loved it. Not every coach allows this but they would sit in the stands a few rows back and never said a peep. After practice I would sit with them for awhile and answer my Dad's million questions. If it was a game night, I would sit in Dahlgren and have a pizza with them after the game sometimes while I did homework and they watched a game on TV. Took planning on my part to ensure I had all my homework done the weekend before they arrived, but as a basketball player I rarely got home during leave and my parents didn't have the means to come all the time, so I valued those opportunities.
     
  11. time2

    time2 Member

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    Since not previously stated, good to know that plebe SUMMER is really the only time at USNA when you will NOT be able to visit or spend time with your mid. As others mentioned above, it is best if your mid lets YOU know when they have time/suggest you visit. Depends a lot on which sports they play, what other activities they are involved in, what duties/obligations they have, their class schedule, etc. Weekends tend to have a bit more open time, but best to not just show up unannounced without knowing their schedule.
     
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  12. forumjunkie

    forumjunkie Member

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    Yep, Here's to the five club, By the time we get the last out the door they will be dropping off the grankids! We can only dream of the Empty Nest!
     
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  13. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    With the exception of PPW, which occurs very near the end of PS. The transition to ac year and Reform swiftly follows. If you know you have a committed '20 plebe, book hotel and air now! Seems to me I have seen the dates on here somewhere, and the sked from last summer - which may or may not be the same this summer, plus recommendations from parents about what to do.
     
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  14. forumjunkie

    forumjunkie Member

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    As your family embarks on this new adventure, (and you may not want to share this with the other daughter, you don't want to lessen the importance of her college time) you will come to realize that it is NOT AT ALL, the same experience as a traditional college. I took our first son off to college alone helped him get his stuff out of the car and into his room, then drove home 5 hours and never gave it a thought.

    With our second son now a 2nd(Junior) I started having crying Jags almost from the moment he got his appointment. I can still start to tear up sitting here writing this. (I am usually the one making crass remarks, only crying when MAD) . These crying episodes happen almost every time he comes home and then goes back. Jeepers when I drive him to the Airport, he jumps out of the Car and makes a run for it before I can go soft on him. It is for this reason that we chose not to drive him to I-Day, Didn't think he needed a long drive with mom bohooing every other hour. We put him on a plane and sent him off.

    I don't think it is just the Empty Nest syndrome, I think it is a sense of Loss but mixed with this indescribable pride, who knows maybe even a early prep for those future deployments. But It is very real and I have seen it over and over one this Forum and others. You can find whole threads here about Big ole Marine Dad's and their tears of pride.

    NOW FOR THE GOOD PART......Your not loosing a KID! You are gaining a Whole New Family! there is this forum, there are parents facebook pages, and my favorite (except during football season) is the email Forum which you will be invited to join near the beginning of Plebe summer. If Not be sure to let me know and I will get you linked up. Your State will have a parents club which you may want to be involved with that has assorted parties and get together s etc... You will be amazed at what these parents will do for you and or your Plebe/mid. Snow Storm and the flight is canceled...Send out a e-mail and 15 min later someone is offering to run across town and pick him/her up and have them spend the night at their house. Mid comes home and forgot his Shoulder boards for the Local "All academy Christmas Ball" send an e-mail. someone will buy a set at the nearest Clothing store and have them mailed overnight. Or how about this one. Daughters fighting over the one and only USNA Class Tee shirt. I throw out the question "Can those Tee shirts be bought still?" Immediately I get 10 answers , but one says "In the interest of family harmony we have extra's we will donate".and they proceeded to mail us one, Just because.

    Mom, please feel free to reach out, as you can see we all love to share in the experience, Kinda like birthing war stories. you can even use Private Messaging.
     
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  15. dakine

    dakine Member

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    Yes, you can. But it will depend on duty, sports, company obligations. Your plebe could get weekend liberty that will start on Saturday and end Sunday. Otherwise, you can have meals with your plebe on the yard at Drydock, Officers Club, or take in.

    Plebes are very busy. Not like a regular college where a parent can just drop by and go to dinner or movie. It really comes down to the plebe to get organized and get the necessary approvals to have an open weekend.

    Fall is a busy time with football and other activities. Football tailgates are a whole different thing at home and away. Those are fun!
     

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