Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Milestones happen in teenagers too

We usually think of milestones in our children when they are little. They start to roll over and drink from a cup, say their first words. Big whoop. (Said as a mom of kids that are WAYYY over that!) Ok, those things are a big deal but our OS have experienced milestones of their own recently that I just have to share. How ironic (that is, if I believed in irony) that each of my OS would cross a major threshold in their lives at practically the same time. May I have your attention, please? 

Ike became a seventh grader. Woo hoo!
Aaron became a sophomore. Take that you annoying upper class
cue the snare drums...
Nate became a recognized plebe. Taa daa! Crowd goes

No longer are my boys at the bottom of their resp- ective proverbial social heaps of life. (Was that an awkward sentence?) After all the travail and toil, when it seemed as if the day would never arrive, my OS are happy to be movin' on up, just like the Jefferson's, remember those guys???

This means that Ike is eager to try out for basketball and not have annoying eighth graders hogging up the good spots. As long as he keeps his grades up and his tongue in control, my orange-haired fella will be just fine. For Aaron, being a sophomore means the leadership skills he has honed this past year that will serve him well and he is positioned to forge ahead in whatever way the Lord directs.  

But neither of them went through the valley like Nate. Sure, it's tough being a dweeby sixth grader. And no one would dispute that a 9th grader is pretty low on the high school totem pool.

But try being a plebe. Just a few days ago, Nate successfully completed his plebe year. To a large extent, I feel like I also completed my own plebe year as a mom. I need my own badge or pin for surviving! I was counting down the days when Nate would make this transition, he's been more than ready!

As I reflect on this last year, oh, my soul, there were so many days when I just wanted to scoop my baby up and take him home. How could he endure such treatment? Why did they have to be so sassy and mean to MY child? He doesn't have to put up with that! (insert the "that" of your choice, especially if you have a cadet at WP or are a USMA grad!) And while I'm at it, why couldn't the professors understand that my boy was overworked and needed a break? Or had a nasty cold??? Despite my numerous offers to contact the higher-ups and plead his case, Nate never budged. He could handle it. (For the record, if any WP folks are reading this, I would honestly have never done that but I thought about it. Nate would have KILLED me! I would have been disowned as a mama!)

And my OS finished really well. Since I will get in trouble if I say too much, let me say Nate should be very proud of himself. Thanks be to God!

On Thursday, Nate got recognized. It was a day he has been talking about for weeks.  What does getting recognized mean? Well, at West Point, when you have completed your plebe year, there is a special moment, almost divine in nature, when the upper class cadets, acknowledge your existence. Instead of calling you "Cadet Last Name," the cadets extend a hand of fellowship your way. They shake your hand and learn something very wonderful about you. They learn you have a FIRST name! That is a MAJOR event in the life of a plebe! 

Personally I can't even imagine living in a confined place for nearly a year and not having someone call me by my first name. I also couldn't tolerate having to wear my uniform And I wouldn't have lasted a day not being able to talk once I leave the confines of my room.

But Nathan did and the transition from lowly plebe-dom to becoming a Private First Class is something so sweet. He strutted outside his room in cadet casual (khaki pants and shirt) and acknowledged people by their first name. He didn't have to cup his hands or do any of those things that have been the bane of his existence for hte last 11 months. Liberation, exhilaration, jubilation sum up how he felt stepping out as a PFC. 

Lest my awe- some OS become too con- tent, reality will come crashing down on him. Tomorrow, no TODAY,  he begins Air Assault School and rumor has it, it's not a picnic. If you are reading this, please pray for the cadets as they begin a grueling 11 day training school. Nate must pass this in order to come home June 6th. If he doesn't pass, (and apparently many will not), he will automatically be re-enrolled and spend another 11 days there until he passes. 

PS. Ask me about the fancy things on Nate's uniform! Give me an excuse to blog about it!


Peas on Earth said...

I catch Paul "cupping his hands" frequently ... and it's been how many years now?? Awkward! :)

Hey Cindy, tell me about those awesome things all over his uniform!!

Holliday Family said...

what a great post - thank you! Being a "foreigner", I don't understand the whole cupping thing - explain please before you then go on to tell me all about his uniform!!!!

Nate said...

All plebes have to cup their hands whenever they're outside their rooms. They also can't talk or look around. These things make it easy for upperclassmen to tell who's a plebe and who's not.