Adventures in Parenting - SO PROUD Edition

Monday, November 15, 2010
For his first non-chow hall meal in two months he chose Red Robin
Friday the Smart Boy graduated from U.S. Navy Boot Camp at the Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, IL. Naturally, me, the Smart Man, my Hot Mom and my Smart Daughter traveled to watch the ceremony and help him celebrate his achievement.

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Recruit training has changed considerably since they put me through the ringer in 1984. The organizational structure more closely aligns with what sailors will see in the fleet rather than stupidly following the construct of ground forces. Company Commanders are now called "RDC's," and are addressed as either "Petty Officer" or "Chief," rather than "sir" or "ma'am." Work Week is a thing of the past, as Good Will Industries now employs the galley workers and other non skilled labor that is required when supporting that many warm bodies all in one place. Divisions can now be integrated, with men and women training alongside one another. Recruits now participate in what is basically a final exam called "Battle Stations."

This is all to the good, as it more thoroughly prepares recruits for the serious business of our modern Navy.

But in spite of these things, the experience really hasn't changed all that much. The fundamental purpose of the exercise is the same - to take undisciplined, know nothing civilians and turn them into sailors.

Proud of My Smart Sailor

Like most parents who have watched their children make the transition from civilian to military life, I was pleasantly surprised by the changes I saw in my son. Instead of the self-conscious, unsure boy I knew, I was greeted by a young man who exuded the easy self-confidence that comes from voluntarily subjecting yourself to a fundamental challenge and emerging from the crucible a better person than before you went in. Comfortable in his own skin and his new uniform, my son has found his niche, at least for his immediate future. Finding a place where you belong is no small thing.

Naturally, I couldn't be prouder of him as he takes these first steps towards becoming an integral part of the most powerful Navy the world has ever seen. He's no longer my Smart Boy, but my Smart Sailor, fully adult and ready to take his place in the world.

This is the natural order of things, and I wouldn't have it any other way. But I was still a little wistful as we said goodbye on Saturday night, as I shifted my world view once again.

Channeling the Dead

Genetics and experience are a strange combination. My Hot Mom made an observation on Saturday as she watched the Smart Sailor walking. His post Boot Camp gait is exactly the same as my late father's. And I mean EXACTLY. The similarity was so uncanny that it KINDA FREAKED ME OUT, MAN.

I'm sure the similarity is a direct result of the Smart Sailor and my father having the same body type, combined with instruction in marching at an age when the transition to adulthood occurs. My father was a Marine, and like many Marines, he carried his military bearing to his grave. The Smart Sailor's bearing may change as he distances himself from his Boot Camp experience, but for now, I'm celebrating this reminder of my family's military heritage.

On to Bigger and Better Things

The Smart Sailor's next step is to report to Advanced Electronics School, also at Great Lakes. That will probably take until August of next year, when he'll be assigned a "C" School and his first duty station, which he hopes will be an Arleigh Burke class destroyer.

Exciting times. Bravo Zulu, Smart Sailor.

WE ARE SO PROUD.

13 comments:

Random Michelle K said...

Congratulations and HUZZAH!

Eric said...

Congratulations, indeed!

The Mechanicky Gal said...

Whaaaaat? Boot Camp now mirrors what is in the Fleet? Well, hmph, back in MY day....
Oh yeah, back in my day it was nothing like what the fleet was and it was stupid. Good move!
And I have to admit, I got a little verklempt reading this. One of the things that I liked about having a shop was watching the fresh faced youngsters come in and then, one day, looking at them and realizing that they had somehow gotten their "man-face". (Womens faces don't really change, but boy, the attitudes sure can!)
Smart move Smart Sailor!

Vagabond said...

Wow! The last time I saw John, he and Mo were just coming out of (or into) the toddler stage (this is San Diego Circa 1994?). How proud you must me, mom! John, Anchors Aweigh and best of luck in A-school. Remember the first rule of electronics: They run on smoke. If the smoke gets out, you can't get it back in and the equipment is then referred to as junk.

neurondoc said...

Congrats and best of luck to SB in Advanced Electronics School.

CkretsGalore said...

Congrats Proud Parents!

Dr. Phil (Physics) said...

My, he DOES look like a sailor!

Dr. Phil

Carol Elaine said...

Recruits now participate in what is basically a final exam called "Battle Stations."

The Smart Boy was the one who managed to save the Kobayashi Maru while assuaging the Klingons, wasn't he? I knew it!

What?

Congrats to the Smart Boy! And congrats to his Smart, Hot Parents!

BTW, guess why my father happened to be at Great Lakes when I was born (he'd already been in the Navy for about eight years)? Advanced Electronics School. I think he was brushing up on his knowledge, since electronics was his specialty.

Juan Federico said...

:)

Steve Buchheit said...

Congrats. Another proud defender of freedom.

Anne C. said...

So proud of the Smart Sailor myself. All he needed to blossom was a little structure, and what I'm most admiring of was that he gathered up his courage and did something really hard. Good for you!

Your educational segment for the day:
"being put through the wringer" comes from the days before automatic clothes dryers, when women squeezed as much water as they could out of the clothes with... you guessed it... a wringer.

Leanright said...

Congrats to your son, AND to you. It's amazing to see a young man make that commitment.

Janiece said...

Thanks, all.

I'm still a bit pensive about the whole thing, in addition to being overflowing with parental pride.

Verklempt, indeed. ::sniff::