Friday, July 13, 2012

Dr. Spock's Guide on Sinking or Swimming

I saw no boxes of tissue on the desks at the Navy recruiter’s office yesterday, which answered my question; no one’s mother got teary watching their 18 year old children attempt to enlist themselves.

My son isn’t official yet.  His previous crisply ironed recruiter dropped the ball and then was shipped off elsewhere.  We’ve gotten a new crisply ironed recruiter, ready to look at my boy like he’s fresh uninitiated meat…young, naïve, inexperienced, immature, meat.  Forms were filled out, dated, signed, on their way to the next step where there will be more forms and signing and a doctor who will ask him to turn his head and cough.
This is a reason to tear up as any.  That is, sending him out so the world can make the determination that he’s tasty and then swallow him whole or the determination that he’s not and spit him out like gristle.  My kid says he’s ready and I’m ready but he’s not ready and neither am I.

Did I teach him how to balance a checkbook?  Is that a skill he even needs to know anymore?  I thought I did.  I thought I went over finances.  I told him never to date much less marry anyone that cannot figure compound interest.  When you’re hot and bothered in a dark soft place, slow down and think, “Is this a partner that will understand that you cannot spend your down payment on designer handbags?”  Do partners who understand money in the Navy the kind that are only your partner for about an hour?   Condoms!  I told him about condoms!  We sat in front of Google image search and discussed herpes and genital warts.  Gah!  Why didn’t I talk about tax deductions and investment income?
That’s not the end of my concerns, oh no…
Will he get along with other adults?  More adult adults?  Adults who won’t tell him to stand up straight or chew with his mouth closed or please put on some deodorant for the love of Jeebus?
Will his first love be a wonderful experience or heartbreaking or both?  Especially without the boundaries of a school environment?  Will she take him for a ride and wreck him or build him up to be a better man?

Will he recognize good opportunity when it pops up and bad choices before he makes them?
Will he get a really stupid tattoo that he thinks is a fantastic and profound tattoo?   
Panic is probably the feeling my parents had when I turned 18, when I graduated high school, when I entered the realm of real life three months later married and about to become this man child’s mother.  How could they not?  They are good parents who did not talk about herpes but did make sure I knew how far the money goes. They knew the value of sink or swim.
There are boxes of tissues in obstetrics offices.  They aren’t provided because your mother tears up during your first pelvic exam at your 8 week checkup. They are there because those exams require lube.  Hopefully it’s warmed.
The Navy did offer me a free pencil though.  I’ll take it.

1 comment:

  1. My oldest son is a career Navy guy who reached the 16 year mark last April. He really has seen a lot of the world courtesy of the Navy. It is not a great environment for a family guy, though, as they are away from home quite a bit. But I think it would be great for a young guy like your son to spend 3 years or so there. Then he can decide if he wants to go on longer but in that time he will really get to see a lot of the planet. And rather than having to pay for that travel, he will be getting paid to do it.


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