Irritated, I stared at the truck keys, wallet, scattered coins and sunglasses that my 21-year-old son had tossed unceremoniously on my clean kitchen counter. With a sigh, I started to gather it all. And then I stopped.
By the end of this month I will be missing this mess on my counter. Rob, away from home for the last three years studying, working and volunteering as a firefighter, had moved home for his final weeks as a civilian. He will be leaving for Air Force boot camp on July 28.
For Rob, it's an adventure and a step forward in his career path. He couldn't be any more eager and excited and can't wait to get started. But what will it be like for us here at home? What should I do to get him ready? And what should I do to get us ready for the next four years?
Through this "Home Front" blog I have learned that online social networking groups, like airforcedads.com, are out there and that they can provide wonderful information and very needed emotional support. So I've signed up, enlisted in my own way I guess, and I've started asking questions. And from these parents, former airmen and navy sailors, I am getting lots of tips. For instance, I'm told to make sure he packs several days of underwear because he may not get to do his laundry for a week. One airman who recently finished boot camp said my son should take his cell phone. They will take the battery and lock it up, but he will be allowed to use it when he earns phone privileges. She said having his own cell phone will mean he won't be stuck in long phone booth lines. And there was a great suggestion to have a small address book out at his "going away" party for everyone to list their mailing addresses so Rob can take it with him to boot camp.
And for all the questions I haven't thought of asking yet? I imagine the information will be available from my new online buddies or some website out there. It makes me wonder how did mothers and fathers handle shipping their son or daughter off to the military before the Internet made the unknown a little less scary?
So, I'm trying to take some comfort in the knowledge that I'll probably have a good idea of what Rob will be enduring and learning as he makes the transition from my son to a military man.
But knowing that won't help much when, at home, we'll just be missing him. Writing letters every day will be important for him to receive in mail call, and I suppose writing them will be therapeutic for us.
But for now, I'm looking at his mess on my kitchen counter. And I'm thinking that maybe I won't clean it up. I'll just enjoy the fact that his keys, wallet, coins and sunglasses are scattered all over. For two more weeks, he's still home.