Wednesday, April 24, 2013

See You Later, Alligator

My oldest, Christian, has written me his last rent check for a while, because as of two days ago, he no longer lives in my house.

His new address is on an Army base somewhere in Missouri, where he’ll be stationed while going through basic training.

I’m not sure how I feel about this.

On the one hand, as I told a friend of mine, Christian—perhaps because he’s the oldest or perhaps because he’s simply who he is—has been leaving me one way or another since forever.

There he goes, showing me his back again.
On the other hand, I’m the type of mother who likes her children close at hand. Hell for me would be all my sons up and moving out of state and leaving me all alone in Philadelphia—no opportunity for unexpected visits or last-minute decisions to go to the movies or even a quick hello and goodbye.

But, children have got to grow up, and sometimes that includes moving away, at least for a time.

Ed couldn’t miss work, but my Dad and I drove with Christian to the recruiter’s office where Christian would get signed in and suited up, or whatever the Army does before shipping young recruits out.

(Thomas was with us, too. I let him miss school so that he could spend a few hours with Christian before he left, and if you knew me you'd know that Thomas missing school is exceedingly rare. “As long as I’m paying tuition ain’t nobody staying home” is my usual motto.)

I got to speak with  ____ Sergeant First Class, a polite, clean-cut looking guy (of course), who told me that whatever I do, I should not send Christian treats to eat! Treats mess up the recruits’ diet, and if they’re caught eating treats some form of discipline is sure to follow.

 ____ Sergeant First Class told me he’d been in the army ten years and hopes to retire. (I would also tell you a cute little story about where he met his wife, but no, Edward is convinced the government will swoop on us in the dead of night if I include such classified information, and he made me promise to keep mum. Alright, Mel.)  

I only got teary once, when  ____ Sergeant First Class  mentioned that Christian would not be able to communicate home via email or telephone while in basic training but that we could exchange letters, and most likely his platoon would post stuff on Facebook. It was the mention of the word “platoon” that started the ducts moving, because it conjured up images of Christian in fatigues and a helmet on a dusty battleground somewhere, dodging grenades thrown by the enemy. I willed those tears to go right back where they came from. No time for a breakdown!!

Adam will be home from college soon, and I confess that I look forward to seeing him even more than I usually do. 

And it’s a good thing that he’s the flexible son. The baby in the house for eleven years before Thomas was born, then shoved in the middle, and now pressed into service as the biggest-big-brother-on-duty, he’s got another adjustment ahead of him.

As do we all.

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