Of all the words of mice and men…

When The Boy was small, he liked to be carried in front of me, with his arms wrapped around my neck, and his legs around my waist. “Baby Monkey” is what we called it… i had to stop this when he was around 6 years old, as the flying leaps he’d take from the sofa into “Baby Monkey Position” nearly broke my neck.

bad little hombre

It was also around this time that he declared his intention to become a bird. Spending hours on the swing set in the back yard, he’d race into the house, excited to tell us that he’d swung high enough to almost fly. “I think my feet are starting to become claws!”

kinder

Eventually, he gave up his dream to become a bird. Coming home from work one evening, i was surprised to find a Ken doll swinging from a shoelace – one end attached to his neck, the other anchored on the stair railing. An audience of GI Joe dolls action figures watched in stoic silence.

daisyfae:  “What’s this?”

The Boy (at 9 years old):  “War criminal.”

i continued upstairs to the kitchen to start dinner. After abandoning his dreams of feathered flight, my son wanted to be “An Army Guy”, and was now apparently in training to serve as Judge Advocate General.

futbol ruffian

He held to this career choice into his early teens, but a combination of the politics of war and his entry into The Wilderness Years* pulled him in other directions. He started working at the age of 16, and found a transient niche in the pizza industry – which carried him through most of his academic years.

Last year, he started his first “grown up” job, working as a field auditor supporting the electrical power industry. With a few weeks training, he was sent into a hurricane in preparation for storm damage management. He got good at this job, earned a promotion and banked a shitload of money. He lived on the road – hiking through meth labs in the Ozarks, and urban war zones in the south.

powerman

It was just interesting enough. Money and benefits were good, but it wasn’t satisfying.  The work was of no consequence… had no meaning.  We’d discussed motivation during one of his visits home between work assignments. He read a lot. All the time, in fact. History. Philosophy. Bukowski, Hemingway, Vonnegut among many others. He made the best use of his time on the road.

???????????????????????????????

The Boy stopped in at the homestead on his way to an assignment in Oregon. i was a bit surprised to find him in residence when i returned from my dive trip to Saba in September.

daisyfae: Aren’t you supposed to be headed out west?

The Boy: Got a different assignment. Heading to Georgia.

daisyfae: Cool! Less driving, i guess. Where in Georgia?

The Boy: Fort Benning.

daisyfae: That’s weird… Counting shit on power poles on an Army Base?

The Boy: Not exactly…

Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are ‘It might have been.’ – K. Vonnegut, Jr.

As he approached his 25th birthday, he realized that the window of opportunity to pursue such a grand challenge would be short.  No regrets.

This afternoon, his father and i watched as he boarded a plane for Georgia.  He is An Army Guy.  He earned a direct accession slot for Special Forces. He’ll be damn good at it.

swearing

* “The Wilderness Years” – an unregistered trademark from a man who kept me off meds and ledges while my son was wrangling the demons.  Thanks, kono

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36 thoughts on “Of all the words of mice and men…

    • The path he is on is toward a most honourable military profession – not entirely guns and grenades, he will be learning a language or two… Here’s to the luck and good will! Thanks!

    • Quite the plot twist, although once he told me of his decision, it was hard to be surprised. For the past 7 weeks, i’ve worked hard at not thinking about future concerns, as i just wanted to enjoy the time together without anxiety. once he was on a plane? it let loose…. better this morning. i’ve got to go to work!

    • Although it’s hard to say what i was thinking in my early 20’s when my children were born, i sort of just wanted to raise them and send them off to university. didn’t really anticipate… this part… whatever it is! thanks for the hugs! much appreciated.

    • very mixed, and VERY intense. the intensity is amplified because i was choking it back for the past two months so it wouldn’t get in the way…. we had a chance to talk through so many issues, while having a few beers and playing pool. at least i know he’s made this decision after a great deal of rational thought. it was not impulsive… thanks for the good thoughts!

  1. The apple never falls far from the tree, does it? Not that you were in the Special Forces, but this just feels like a very Daisyfae thing to do. It’s no mystery where he gets his wanderlust from. All good wishes, etc.

    • He’s not had the travel bug the way The Girl and i have it… but he’s got something equally demonic… the belief that if he’s going to live a life, and work hard, he wants it to matter. The Girl and i have it as well, but perhaps not to the same degree. Powerful shit inside this ones head…

  2. So the little boy who I used to dangle by his ankles is going off to be a soldier. I am speechless/terrified/proud. Please tell him I said best of luck.

    • Yeah. i should totally blame this on you! He still fondly remembers those visits – he was about as big as he was in that first picture! Also thinks of you as “that guy that hung me by my ankle and ate dog bones”. He read the post as he landed – and i suspect he’ll read the comments when he gets his first internet break in a few months…

  3. Holy Crap…My older guy was trying for Rangers and qualified until the physical. He wears glasses so he was pushed off Rangers. Instead he is just finishing up his basic training at Ft. Jackson with graduation being this Thursday Nov 7th and will be heading off to Ft Sill for training on the Patriot Missiles. Took him till he was 20 to decide to join the military because he decided he really wasn’t going to college. I worry about him especially with the state of affairs in the Middle East.
    Good luck to The Boy.. He obviously did awesome on his qualifying tests too. The mix of Fear and Pride is very intense especially if you get caught up watching the news.

    • Ah, you’ve got one of these, too! It’s a club that has spanned the millenia — mothers sending their sons off to prepare for war. As old as time. But that doesn’t make it any more pleasant…

      We knew he had perfect eyesight, but were surprised about his hearing being intact, given his propensity for loud music… The military isn’t a bad place for a young man at 20, and i’m sure your son will do well! Congrats to him to clearing the first round of hurdles! And stop watching the news, Mom! i’m giving it up…

  4. If he has a pair of testicles as large as his mother has then he will be perfectly fine in his new career. The powers that be obviously see something in him that shouts “intelligence”. Good for him! Hell, I’m proud of him just for making his mom very happy.

    If the American version of the Special Forces is anything like the SAS in the UK, it’s an honour to be selected. What an achievment indeed. I like the fact that he is a real mans man, not a workshy wee gobshite that is content to sit on his arse. Tell him I wish him well hen, please.

    • There is a bit of pre-selection required – including language aptitude, as these are the gents who go in before there is trouble. SAS carries a similar mission, and shared reputation. He’s not there yet — the training he’s just entered can run for two years, depending on what specialty is acquired en route. Expect he’ll track back through this post when he gets access to the internet again in a few months. He’ll be ‘off the grid’, and i won’t likely see him until his first graduation in March.

      Now, off to take on a good stiff one. Been a long day here…

  5. Damn computer! lol

    Anyway … what I was trying to say is that I’m glad y’all had the opportunity to spend some time together, talk and just BE.
    I wish him all the best …. and you as well.
    xoxoxoxox

    • ah, the computer did it! mystery solved! it’s been a good couple of months — we’ve had ‘room mate’ issues in the past, but this time was quite different. we both knew that there was a clock hanging overhead. lots of down time, fun time, and time to sort through what lies ahead…for us both. and the long weekend visiting my sister was perfectly timed…

    • he’ll be receiving silver wings. they hand those out upon completion of jump school. i would think they’d be more useful at the start of jump school, but what do i know?

  6. You don’t have to thank me Lady unless you held me up as a shining example of what not to do… that boy of yours figured it out on his own with some help from his wise and crazy mama, hell at 25 i was fucking so far into the Wilderness i couldn’t even see the sunlight, spent almost 16 years wandering through the damn thing, this young man figured it out by 25, good for him, i’ll raise a black pint to his journey and a safe trip home someday, you’ve got two fine children there woman, that itself is a testament to a life well lived.

    (did i happen to mention i took over the job as head basketball coach for a bunch of 7-8 yr. olds? i feel a bit like Randall Patrick McMurphy)

    • you did help, kono. knowing you were in far more deeply, and still found your way out? gave me hope that he’d find it too… you two are a lot alike.

      that picture of the little futbol ruffian above? i was his coach during those years. also coached The Girl’s basketball team. it was a bit like a psych ward, where the inmates didn’t know which way was up, but we had a grand time… i can’t wait to someday see a photo of 6’4″ kono and those li’l critters on the basketball court!

    • Thanks. When i read your tales from the trenches of the parenting mosh pit, it all comes back as though it was yesterday… A good friend helped me put this all in perspective this week. She said “if a person spends 18 years raising a child, they’ve failed. the success stories are the parents who spend 18 years raising adults.” although i didn’t realize it at the time, that’s what my husband and i were doing. i find myself in a place where BOTH of my spawn are independent enough – and confident enough – to pursue challenging professions in their early 20’s. they are not running away from something, but rather TO the lives they chose to live. this was the goal from the start – even though i didn’t know it at the time…

  7. So in a way he is becoming both Bird (jump school) and Army Guy. Hope he doesn’t have to hang any war criminals…

    I understand your pride and shock, we went through the same thing when Jesse decided to join the Army. He was 23.

    Best of luck. He’ll be right down where Jesse and Lynette are stationed, not far away.

    • i think you’re right! An Army Bird! although he won’t be Airborne, he’ll be jumping a bit… i remember your pics of Jesse – and am really looking forward to hearing from my son on the other side of the training. it’s the quiet that’s going to give me a headache.

      a reminder, though, that this is a large, and very ancient, sorority – women who send the kids off to prepare for war. it helps. rational mind knows this. irrational mind is still giving me fits…

  8. Great job Mom! I can feel the love and in your post and wish all the best for him. My oldest is a junior in high school and I get a lump in my throat thinking about him leaving.

    • Thanks, Tammy! i’ve been here before – when they were both out for college. They both bounced back a couple times. What’s different this time? i know he won’t be back – and that’s how it’s supposed to work. i’ll get used to it… but the silence is deafening!

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