The greeting cards have all been sent, the Christmas rush is through…
The time has come, dear followers, to get a li’l real with you.
My son, my baby boy, is basically an adult.
I don’t know how or when the fuck this happened—and to be clear, it’s not a done deal, since he still self-sabotages like nobody’s business—but all of a sudden I find myself shrugging and saying, “he’s an adult,” like I accept it. Like I’m cool with it.
Pretty sure I’ve got everyone fooled. And why not? I’ve been convincing everyone I’m a grown-up myself all these years
ME: (barely not boring him a new dimple) I’m not touching you!
OFFSPRING: Stop that. Remember, you’re supposed to be responsible adults.
ME: Pfft. I know he is but what am I? (points at Husband)
HIM: (turns, looks behind him)
ME & OFFSPRING: (laugh)
HIM: I was looking for the responsible adult!
How grown-up is my big little man? He’s busting his ass right now to graduate a semester early, right when he turns 18. Which is hella impressive until you catch him still being a teenager—whining about how much work he has to do and then taking a ten hour power nap in the middle of the day.
Since you asked, he’s graduating early because he sat down with his counselor and realized he was only a few credits shy of accidentally doing so—he’s doing an independent study on top of his AP courses to make up the rest of the work—and decided there was no point prolonging his high school experience when he could get a jumpstart on The Rest Of His Life. (He says it just like that, too, so you can hear the initial caps.)
His grand plan? Joining the Army (intelligence, probably crypto linguistics) to let them pay for college while he travels and learns new languages.
Y’all, I am so fucking proud of this kid.
Having grown up in a military family, I’m decidedly anti-military for my own son, but damned if he didn’t come up with the one reason I’d accept. It’s almost like he paid attention to our struggle with crippling student loans, or Husband’s tales from his Army days .* And, since he picked the one field that keeps him—by definition and necessity—out of the line of fire I was feeling pretty confident that no matter what… ahem… happens in the world (please, let’s just leave it at that; I promise you, my political affiliations and opinions are exactly the same as yours, I can just tell!) my boy, at least, would be as safe as I could make him.
And then I met his recruiter.
Look, it’s not that I’m a snob, but… I’m a Marine Corps brat. So I do have certain standards. And this woman…
She’s short, stupid, disorganized.
And she introduced herself as Becky. I’m so glad I wasn’t physically in the room with my father when I relayed that tidbit.
DAD: What the hell is a Becky?
ME: I know, right?
DAD: …. (silently puzzles out just how badly one must fuck up in order to be busted down to Becky)
ME: Plus, her previous MOS must have been Bunny Counting or something, because the little idiot absolutely trembles every time I open my mouth.
HIM: Well, you’re a scary person.
ME: WHY DOES EVERYONE KEEP SAYING THAT?!?
Husband says she was just trying to play friendly with the civilian, using her first name like that. Which makes no damned sense to me, because her first name is Sergeant.
And then there was the paperwork.
The recruiting office sent home a fat stack of paperwork for Offspring to complete, and a few of the forms needed personal information from me and Husband. Husband, having been previously registered as property of the US Army, gave it up without a fuss; I had some questions, because some of their questions seemed… odd.
SGT: Excellent. This all looks… oops, looks like he missed a few—
HIM: She’s refusing to answer some questions.
ME: (glares at him) No, I just have some questions.
ME: I’m curious why it’s of any interest to the US Army what day I got married.
HIM: (laughs quietly)
SGT: It’s just for the alias.
SGT: (looks around helplessly) We just need these forms…
SPARE RECRUITER: It’s for because.
ME: … **
HIM: He’ll need an SF-86 at some point, and this information will be on there, so—
SPARE: This is the new SF-86.
ME: Oh. Well why didn’t you just say so! (happily fills out form)
SGT: (reading my answers) Born at… Camp Pendleton. That’s a Marine Corps base, isn’t it?
SGT: (visibly dying inside) And now this contract—
ME: Which brings me to my question—
ME: Are you going to be difficult?
HIM: Nope, just amused.
I should probably put a stop to that—his delight in my conversations with the Sergeant—but we’re losing our son soon and it’ll be just the two of us, so I’m disinclined to curb his enjoyment of anything. Time enough for him to be bored and wondering why he puts up with me later, right? So for now I call him over whenever I’m on the phone with her. Which isn’t often anymore, actually…
ME: She didn’t call back herself?
OFFSPRING: No, guess she’s asked (other recruiter) to do it for her.
ME: (unimpressed noise)
OFFSPRING: Yeah. Also, I went ahead and told her I can’t go to MEPS on Boxing Day.
ME: I told you I’d talk to her.
OFFSPRING: She… uh… it’s better if I talk to her.
OFFSPRING: Oh! But she got a talking to at the Christmas party!
OFFSPRING: Yeah, they’re not allowed to use their first names anymore.
ME: I wasn’t aware that they ever were; she’s the only—
OFFSPRING: Right, but some of the other recruits were calling her Becky, and she got in trouble.
ME: Bet she’ll be busted down to Becky now…
* Someday I must tell you about Fuel Truck Guy.
** You cannot see my face now, and you weren’t there to see my face then, but I feel like you know me well enough to imagine my incandescent delight at those words. Oh, how that simple explanation thrills me! How I’ve waited my long, lonely life for a big lump of a man, 40-some years of age and a mere Sergeant, to explain to my simple female brain it’s for because.***
*** Husband says Idiot #2 started talking and then paused to figure out what he wanted to say. Thus began another rant. For the sake of decency and the criminal records of those around you, please do not open your mouth without first having at least one fully formed thought in your head. I’ll cop to having left my mouth on autopilot before, but I’ve got spare thoughts rolling around in there as backup—this man clearly hadn’t planned ahead and had, therefore, left his conversational partners hanging, which is unacceptable! Think, then speak! The good lord gave you two ears and one mouth, to be used in proportion; and a brain between them to manage the lot.