Whip-sawed Parent

Discussion in 'Service Academy Parents' started by DrJ, Feb 19, 2015.

  1. forumjunkie

    forumjunkie Member

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    We are a military family, but our USNA MID is the first Academy attendee. I just want all you unsure parents to know that each of the Academy's has an e-mail, type blog-Network where parents share the most incredible amount of information and support. You get the info on this near the time they head off for Induction Day. you will get every detail and time line you ever wanted. and an incredible network of "Family"

    An example might be.... a Mid who's flight gets canceled leaving him stranded. The parent shoots out an email and usually within minutes is getting offers from someone, to go pick that Kid Up and keep him overnight and then get him to the Airport the next morning.

    You will get more information, support, and offers for game tickets :( than you can ever imagine. Before long you will want all your kids to go there so you don't have to leave your Family of Academy Parents! So don't worry you wont be in it alone!
     
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  2. shellz

    shellz 5-Year Member

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    Our son was the recipient of so much love and home cooking...he had cheesecake brought to him by a nearby friend I met on this very forum, he stayed long weekends with friends families, and was treated to more meals and events than I can begin to list here. The big surprise for me was not the relationships he developed, but the ones I was blessed with. I sent our youngest on a cross country trip (flight) which required an overnight stay the night prior so he could arrive to check in at o-dark thirty. So, I put out the SOS to the parents facebook groups asking if someone could pick him up at the airport (or meet him at the hotel) and get him checked in to the hotel. ( he was 15) A wonderful mom promptly offered to pick him up, host him and two other sea cadets traveling with him, feed them the next morning and drop them at the port. I didn't even hesitate to accept...Cga parents are awesome. Another time, we had a 9 hour layover in MN on the 21st of Dec. I queried the parents group for things to do/see (mall of America, etc) in our protracted layover. This sweet lady took time away from her busy holiday plans to pick us up ( had to borrow a bigger car to accommodate us all!) and took us to MOA. We had a lovely dinner, did some Christmas shopping, and had a ride back to the airport at the end. These are two examples among many that I've come to realize are not that unusual in the parents of SA kids! Truly great company to be in. And yes...I didn't want the CGA ride to end with our oldest. Was convinced youngest would be there too, but he's going to USAFA. And you know what? I'm thoroughly looking forward to meeting and bonding with the USAFA parents. I'D bet the bank that they are a really great bunch too!
     
  3. DrJ

    DrJ Member

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    We plan, God laughs.

    Last week DS told me he had made up his mind: he was declining his appointment to the USNA.

    If you had asked me a minute before, I would have said I was more than 95% certain he would accept.

    Given my ambivalence--I AM the Whip-sawed Parent after all--you would have thought that I would have been on my knees, thanking God, then doing the dance of joy.

    Instead, my eyes welled with tears, which surprised the heck out of both of us. I am not the sort to tear up a lot and this is not the reaction I would have predicted. But after all of these months of trying to understand what applying to the USNA and serving in the Navy meant to him, I had really finally "got it." Those tears were not relief, they reflected my appreciation of what he was walking away from.

    We talked--or rather, he talked and I listened--and his thinking was so spot-on: what had been his Plan B really fits his career aspirations so perfectly. We made a final visit to that school a few days ago and seeing how happy, excited and at peace he was gives me great comfort. This is clearly the path he is meant to follow now, and he found it himself. I was able to grasp that he wasn't so much walking away from USNA, but heading where he truly feels he belongs.

    The other thing that gives me so much comfort and downright happiness is envisioning the DS or DD that is going to be over the moon to be plucked off of the wait list in a few days. On July 1st we will raise a toast, wish him/her all the best that life has to offer and pray for his/her safekeeping in a turbulent world.

    I would not be surprised if, once DS has finished his undergrad and graduate degrees, he looks at Navy again. He has a strong desire to serve his country--just not now, and not via the USNA. As always, he will have my love and support.

    The last few months have been an incredible roller coaster ride. I would not give up this experience for anything. I am so proud of my DS for everything he did to achieve this incredible goal of an appointment to USNA, and for the careful reflection he did to make his final decision. And I feel like this process has changed me. I am sure that the self-restraint I have strengthened in the last few months of endlessly and silently chanting the mantra "it's his life, it's his decision" will come in handy in the future. I now know so much more about the USNA and the military than I ever did, and I appreciate that. To those on the forum who have been so patient and helpful to me, here is a huge "thank you!"
     
  4. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 5-Year Member

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    As we say in the Navy, I wish him "fair winds and following seas." USNA will be the road not taken, and we all know there are plenty of those. This has been a good thread, likely very helpful to many.
     
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  5. Boozebin

    Boozebin 5-Year Member

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    This sums it up perfectly. This is all we can ever hope for in our children as they make the transition into adulthood and control of their own lives.

    Thanks go to you for having the open discussion with us. This thread is a valuable source of information for parents like you that have no military experience/knowledge and will serve this community for some time to come. It's worth being a sticky in my mind and I have bookmarked this tread in my browser so I can go back to it when I come across parents such as yourself to give them something to read and start them on the path of helping their children.

    Good luck to you and your family and know that you have raised a fine child no mater the path he chooses.
     
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  6. VelveteenR

    VelveteenR Just gathering dust in the nursery...

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    DrJ: I think you've won the lottery. Congratulations to your son for being able to make this choice and be at peace with it. Congratulations to you for genuinely supporting him in either decision. Though you will never be completely free from a "mess of feelings" and worrying about your son, you are relieved from the additional worries that accompany a military life. I envy you.
     
  7. kpdad2015

    kpdad2015 5-Year Member

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    Truthfully the majority of kids accepted to any SA are disciplined and confident. I have watched our friends kids spend 4 or 5 years at a 'regular' college, and when your around those kids, they still act like kids. I will admit our Eagle Scout, soon to graduate from USMMA son, acted more mature and driven when he was in 9th grade, than they do now that they're college grads. One of the biggest changes I've noticed is his concern and compassion for others. The football team adopted Mighty Mikey back in 2009. Mikey was a child battling pediatric brain tumors who lost his battle yesterday and I could feel the loss in my DS when we skyped last night. As mature, disciplined, and confident as my DS was when he reported to Indoc 4 years ago, he has grown significantly through his time there and become a truly impressive man.

    As a caveat to ROTC, my nephew had a appoint to the AFA or a AF ROTC scholarship. He was talking to some Cadets and they encouraged him to choose ROTC because there is "nothing to do outside the Air Force in Colorado Springs". He went to a distinguished school and did well his 1st semester but then partied with his friends and flunked the 2nd. I was impressed because they allowed him to resume his scholarship after he retook and passed the classes at his expense. But then his senior year he got depressed. He realized that with his GPA he wasn't going to fly or any of the other things he wanted to do. So he missed 2 weeks of PT without a medical excuse and they didn't give him a 3rd chance. He now still has 1 semester to complete his degree, but first he's working as an assistant manager of a convenience store in order to pay the government back for his ROTC scholarship. He regrets listening to the cadets who talked him out of the AFA, not spending more time in the library instead of partying with his roommate, and having his own pity party and skipping PT.
     
  8. VelveteenR

    VelveteenR Just gathering dust in the nursery...

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    OMG. The Army has my boy. :(
     
  9. ca2midwestmom

    ca2midwestmom Member

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    Congrats VelveteenR on making it through R-day. Your DS will be fine. Write a lot of letters between now and A-day and realize he is in the best place he could possibly be. The first phone call should be coming soon so answer all unknown phone numbers (although I think our first call last year was over the 4th weekend -- a little too soon).

    I didn't have a hard time letting go on R-day. As it is, I'm still waiting for a response from my Yearling to my text from last Saturday as to whether or not he made it back to WP. ;) I know he did and is now at CFT, but he no longer checks in with me ... he mostly calls/texts when something is wrong (flight cancelled, injury). We as parents and our kids as cadets may all deal with this new chapter in different ways. Happy Waldo hunting!
     
  10. VelveteenR

    VelveteenR Just gathering dust in the nursery...

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    Thanks, all. I'm not struggling with letting go (I let him go to boarding school at 14), and I'm sure he'll be fine. I'm still struggling with the choice when he had so many other fine options. But, he's an adult now, and it's his decision. I just want to hear happiness or, at least, no regrets in his voice when I do talk to him and then I'll move on. He is always loved, always supported, always uppermost in my heart and mind no matter what he chooses.
     
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  11. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe 5-Year Member

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    I have a feeling this had much more to do with how things turned out then his decision to select AFROTC over the AFA.

    I think it's a bit unfair to generalize that cadets and mids that select ROTC at a traditional university are somehow going to be less mature, disciplined, and confident. Both sons chose ROTC over a SA Appointment, neither had any regrets and both did very well. There are great and not so great officers that commission from either SAs or ROTC, in the end it comes down to the individual.

    Thank God for Texting, without it I don't think we'd hear from our sons as much.

    All this made me think back to when I left home for the Coast Guard. I'm sure a lot of you parents can relate, we wrote letters, long distance phone calls cost way to much considering what little we made back then. I forget sometimes just how lucky we are that there are so many different ways to keep in contact these days.
     
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  12. Sampia

    Sampia Member

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    I have a feeling that having a "mixture" of friends, ROTC vs "regular students" may create more temptation than those in the SAs where they are all in the same type of situation. Peer pressure can be tough and if the peers aren't having to get up and PT before sunrise or all the other things, chances are they just don't get it! Would be nice if they could help their buddies tow the line and not try and pull them away from it, but I doubt it works that way.
     
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  13. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe 5-Year Member

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    Both my sons were not only at the same traditional university, but they were both in the same traditional fraternity. Your right, their peers did not have to get up at zero dark thirty, and they didn't schedule functions or parties around my son's schedule. Yes there was peer pressure to stay up late with the rest of them which I can honestly say they did succumb to from time to time (Heard the stories). They also knew they still needed to get up in the morning and there would be nobody to make sure they were up and on time. All in all their fraternity brothers and friends were very supportive of them and would help out with class notes if they were away at training. Most of their fraternity and quite a few sorority members attended both their commissioning ceremonies.

    Your also right that there are a lot of distractions at a traditional university, younger son was a class Senator, President of the University Inter Fraternal Council, a Greek Rep, and Intramural Director. still found time to do Ranger Challenge, Color Guard and Color Guard Commander, CO, and never missed a ROTC activity.

    ROTC Cadets don't have the advantage of having every classmate in the same situation, there are temptations all around, they are given a schedule and it's up to them to make everything on time. There are always a few that can't handle it, it takes a lot of character and confidence to juggle so many balls at once. This path is not for everyone, without good time management and dedication a cadet won't make it through.

    Both sons were able to juggle as many balls they threw at them, both commissioned AD Aviation and never doubted their decision. In the end it's a personal choice of where and how to commission, if the goals are strong enough in the cadet, they will succeed no matter where they attend.
     
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  14. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 5-Year Member

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    Being to hoot with the owls at night and scream with the eagles in the morning is a rare skill. Military folks with early AM PT habits/requirements know that hooting and screaming are hard to do in a 12-hour span and learn to temper their choices. There is nothing like doing push-ups with a pounding head or running on legs of lead or doing sit-ups with a queasy stomach. But you do, feel annoyed at your poor performance, and determine to make good choices going forward.
    I first heard the owls-eagles thing years (and years) ago. Still true! A variation is "hunt and soar."
     
  15. payitforward

    payitforward Member

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    That's the guy I want living next door.
     
  16. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe 5-Year Member

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    One that I have learned later in life is best left to the young ones.

    You are oh so correct, and something both my sons had to learn while in ROTC as well as every cadet at a traditional university. They have the freedom to make their own choices.....and they quickly learn that they have to live with those choices. Most make the adjustments, those that don't do not last long.

    I have to add this one story. My younger son told me a while back that he was at a Greek awards ceremony the night before his last recorded APFT before commissioning. The ceremony went long and there was an after party that found its way to the Main Street watering holes. Needless to say he was out "Hooting" into the wee hours. With just a couple hours sleep he made his way to PT and lined up for the test. He has always had a good APFT score and he felt the need not to slip on this one. He finished the test with a score of 348, he told me he was very thankful there was a bag lined trash can at the end of the run. I think his comment was "That's the last time I ever do that"
     
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  17. thunderheadc6

    thunderheadc6 Member

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    WOW thank you for this- made me tear up just reading this
     
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  18. VelveteenR

    VelveteenR Just gathering dust in the nursery...

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  19. thunderheadc6

    thunderheadc6 Member

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    this was a great thread to read- my son will start pleb summer in June
     
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  20. TrueBlue88

    TrueBlue88 Member

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    Yes, this thread was certainly worth the read. I also listened to the Superintendent’s talk given at Johns Hopkins. Both were very valuable. Thanks Thunderheadc6 for reviving this thread.