Monday, October 25, 2010

Off Topic

It started with a mysterious text to The Saint I Am Married To - Mom have dad make reservations at a nice restaurant I have some exciting news.

A pretty dramatic message from a 19 yr old kid. "What the hell is he up to now?" I asked myself when The Saint forwarded it to me. As usual, this all went down while I was at work and unable to face to face with anyone involved.

I called The Saint and we discuss the message. The subject of our conversation was Number One Son who is in his second year of J.C. with a promise of us funding an additional two years at state college or university once he decides what he wants to be when he grows up. He works three days a week in a warehouse and likes to hang out with his friends. He lives at home for free, I have a truck that I let him use exclusively and we pay the insurance. Until his GPA dropped below a "B", we bought his gas. He buys his clothes and provides his own spending money. Since he has been buying gas, his money has been a little tight.

Like his father, #1 Son doesn't take school real seriously and has some authority issues. In so many ways, we are very much alike. I know his boss real well, he thinks highly of #1 Son, as do many of the adults that know him.

It was with the above observations that we tried to figure out what possible news that this could be. Marriage? Not likely, no serious girlfriend for quite a while. Fatherhood? Maybe exciting, but not in a good way. Definitely not news worth celebrating. Business venture? New Job? Again not likely.

After hanging up with The Saint, I texted #1 son, she went to work on #2 son. Neither one of us were entirely successful. #1 son wasn't talking until the dinner, #2 wouldn't say either but told us that the news was good. Apparently #2 was sworn to secrecy under punishment of a severe ass-whuppin'.

The Saint and I had a few theories but we had to wait until we all met for dinner a day later.

I didn't sleep real well that night, the next evening took forever to roll around.  #1 son stayed pretty scarce throughout the day, until we all drove to the restaurant.

We got seated and ordered drinks. I ordered a tall ale and then asked the kid what his news was.

#1 Son told us that he is joining the Army and that he is going down to finalize his enlistment at the end of this week. I could tell by his demeanor that he was resolute in his decision and there is nothing that we could do to get him to change his mind.

The Saint and I immediately bombarded him with questions about his choice of MOS (military occupational specialty) how long he will be in, how far he is in the process - all of the usual questions.

I leveled with him, I told him I am proud of his decision and I support it but that I have some concerns, after all he is my son and there is a war on. I also told him that it will take a few days for me to digest his revelation to us and that ultimately it his decision. I added that our enthusiasm for his decision will likely increase as we absorb his choice and the ramifications of it.

It's been a few days now and both my enthusiasm and apprehension have grown. I feel all of the same positive things that I have said to others when their kids have enlisted but as this is my kid, there is a different feeling of uncertainty that is difficult for me to explain.

I have always been supportive of the military and thought that I would be proud of my kids if they chose that path. Although I am proud, I have come to the realization that I don't want my kid to feel fear. I don't want him to be afraid for the safety of his team members or be shocked by the brutality of man. I have witnessed all three and I had hoped that my kids would be spared from it.

We will know Friday evening what MOS #1 kid will have and when he will leave us. I still hope that he will have a safe MOS, but that is out of our hands.

I will be addressing this in future posts, though I may start a new blog that will chronicle his journey over the next few years.

If you made it to this part of the post, I appreciate your perseverance. If you skipped to the end, I still appreciate your readership.

Thanks again,


  1. Oh Joe, what a hard thing to be happy about as a father! I do not envy you the next few years of waiting for # 1 son to come home. I will lookf forwar (?) to reading about his jorney and most especially about your handling of it all!
    As always FF Schmoe, stay safe

  2. One thing for sure.. You and Mrs. Schmoe raised a damn good kid.

  3. 2 and a half Years ago we went through the same conversation/discussion with my eldest daughter. She has just come back from the 'stan (she is OK, but she lost some friends). We are still as proud of her as we were the day she told us (although it came over as she asking us!) what she wanted to do with her life. So Good Luck to your #1 son.

    Richard Proud father of a British Army soldier.

  4. Thanks Gia!

    Rambling Chief - Lets hope so, we'll see how this plays out. The end game for us was to produce a productive member of society, one who is compassionate and self-reliant. Now that we are staring this in the face, I hope that we made the right choices. Thanks for your support.

    Richard - It's odd, though this is an everyday occurrence, both in your country and mine, it is a uniquely personal one when your offspring is involved. I had though about it from the day of his birth (he was born two days before the ground war started in Desert Storm), but again I had hoped he would choose another path. I am happy that your daughter returned safely, as I am when all our military steps off of the plane when coming home. Thanks for the comment, give your daughter my regards. As a side note, I hope that you are not affected by the Fire Brigade strike. A tough situation for all concerned.

  5. Cap,

    Sorry to hear he chose the Army, but it wouldn't be the Marines if everyone could be one;) That said, there are some great folks and true professionals in all of the armed forces, and each service has it's niche. I know you are proud of him, as you should be.

    For MOS, encourage your son to be specific and get what he wants in writing before he raises his right hand. Recruiters have a tough job, and it is sometimes easier to leave some things out that the recruit may not like. Also be careful to ensure that there isn't a switch at the MEPS. They like to dangle cash bonuses in front of you to change jobs, and get you to sign on the spot before you can research. About 10 years ago the son of a FF I work with almost got handed an MOS he didn't want because the recruiter told him "it was basically the same thing" as what he wanted-and it wasn't. He went back and changed the MOS back to what he asked for, and now has a civilian job with the skills he learned in that MOS.

    I have a lot of military experience and know people with even more, so if anything seems "off" in your/his dealings with the recruiter, feel free to contact me if you have questions.

  6. Capt. Schmoe,

    I'm sure you've read it (there's a link to the blog off your site), but Texas Ghostrider has a guest appearance that hits very much on this subject.

    I can only wish I raised kids with enough self-assurance to make this kind of choice and stick by their convictions. Time will tell.

    I wish you, The Saint, and #1 Son all the best. I've done my time in the box, I hope his experience is every bit as safe as mine.

  7. As usual for me, I forgot something... the link I was mentioning:

    Take care,


  8. John - Don't worry about it, I know if #2 son decides to enlist, it will be in his grandfather's Corps. Thanks for the offer regarding the MEPS / recruiter / MOS issue. We have discussed it several times. I told him that even if they don't lie to you, they MIGHT forget to tell you something. He scored really well on the ASVAB so he should have a good selection, depending on availability. It's the availability thing that causes me concern. Thanks again.

    Lunchbox - I did read that post, I didn't really think I would be writing similar words such a short time later. Funny how dad seems to be struggling with it more than mom, I thought I would be the only one. Thanks for the comment.

  9. Firstly congratulations to your son on having the pride and courage to defend his country, regardless of what politicians decide our Forces should do, the troops always deserve our respect.

    I hope he gets the MOS he desires, and that he has a safe career in the Army.

    From myself and the millions of other citizens of the UK and USA, thanks to our troops for keeping us safe, we do appreciate your sacrifice.

    To you Schmoe, and you Saintly better half, I pray that the time until your family is reunited safely flies by, and he doesn't do something really stupid on his return, like join the FD :-)