Monday has come and gone, and it’s only Wednesday. Chris, my son, left for MCRD Parris Island Monday morning at 0405 (4:05AM CST) for his four “summer camp”.
For those that don’t know, Chris is a Private First Class in the Music City Young Marines. He enlisted on February 25th of this year and graduated on May 19th as a PFC. He was nervous to say the least. But he’s not alone in that. Out of the 18 kids that went, only 5 had been there previously and those 13 were just as scared as he. Luckily one of the “veterans” has befriended him and is helping him along.
But who will help us along? By “us” I mean Tabitha and I and the other parents that are nervous and scared for their children. Make no mistake, it’s not like we’ve sent our kids into harm’s way. They’ll do hard things like Marine style PT (physical training), rappelling, the obstacle course, portions of the Crucible, rifle drill and some simulated rifle range training, but still, these are our babies.
Once upon a time I didn’t understand the horror my mother felt when she signed for me to enlist at 17, and I sure as hell didn’t get her fear as I left for Parris Island 19 years ago last month. But I do now. Dear God do I ever.
Chris is a tough but sensitive kid. He wants to be a Marine K9 handler before moving on to becoming a veterinarian. He loves animals to the point where he bawls his eyes out when he sees those ASPCA commercials. “Damn them for showing that,” he mutters more often than not as he leaves the room. He’s very sensitive.
They’ll return Friday night around midnight and I’m sure that Thursday night will be spent by us in the same way that Sunday night was spent; full of anticipation, worry, and nervousness. Do I think he’s fine? Yes. Do I think he’s afraid? Hell yes. Do I know he can do it? Hell f*ck yes! Am I proud of him? You bet your ass I am. But I’m dad, and as such, I worry about my baby. It wasn’t that long ago that we brought him home and he was just that. Now, he’s a teenaged Young Marine discovering himself. Where did the last 13 years go?