In case you’ve ever wondered what sort of head case I am: when planning for Offspring’s departure I realized we wouldn’t be able to speak on the phone often or at all so letters would be the thing—which has turned out to be true—but then I started overthinking it. How does one address such a letter? How often should I write? What should I write about?
Now, I could have brought these questions and concerns to Husband or Offspring, but that would have exposed my inadequacies and, frankly, my level of crazy. I’m only comfortable showing you my crazy.
So I googled it.
I got sample letters, tips, read through chat threads and support groups, you name it. I learned that I shouldn’t send treats because they’d be passed out to all and sundry on their way to Offspring and I’m not interested in making hundreds of fucking butterscotch cookies. I was also assured that Offspring would write to me almost as soon as he arrived to share his new address.
We got a phone call!
OFFSPRING: Hey mom, it’s your son. I’ve started Basic, I’m still alive, I’ll text you my address. Love you, bye.
ME: Okay. I love you. Bye!
ME: (checks call duration)
13 seconds, but a real phone call! I took a moment to radiate pride in my son’s new maturity and efficiency.
Then I got the text. And I was reminded that this was the same young man who couldn’t—no matter how many times we reminded him, hounded him, begged him—remember to shovel the walk he used daily whenever he shoveled the driveway.
HIM: (looks) What…?
ME: Yeah. What the shit is this?
HIM: Give him a minute to figure it out.
ME: Your son.
HIM: Autocorrect. It can’t deal with military addresses.
ME: Right, but your son never remembers to check that what he thinks he typed is what actually went through.
HIM: (sighs) Give him a minute.
ME: Can we call someone—
HIM: Yeah, I’ll go look online to see if there’s a contact for the base to get addresses for recruits too stupid to work a phone.
ME: I’ll… watch for another text.
HIM: You do that.
ME: (stares at phone)
There wasn’t another text. And when Husband called the base he learned, after getting bounced around a bit, that they’re not allowed to give out any information on who may or may not be living there. We’re meant to wait for our little soldier to call or write.
There is, apparently, no recourse for the families of those young men who can’t figure out that process.
I did try texting back to whatever number he used.
ME: Hey hon?
ME: You might want to compose this text instead of me.
ME: Because… just look. (passes phone)
ME: I can’t figure out a way to make it not sound—
HIM: (presses something)
HIM: (passes phone back to me)
ME: (looks) You sent that?!?!
ME: That’s gonna get him called out—
HIM: And he deserves it!
No response yet from that, and still no letter from him. Probably the phone belonged to another recruit and is in a locker somewhere, since they’re not allowed to keep their phones if they bring them… and probably Offspring is wondering why we haven’t written him yet, and won’t write us until we do. Meanwhile, I’ve got a letter sat here ready to go
And more piling up in my head every day, and that little shit is refusing to give me his address!
Y’all are my witnesses. This is his fault, and I’m never going to let him live it down.
* Note for military-familiar persons: it’s not even a proper RN, if that’s what he was trying to send me, since RN’s are usually 4-digits and sometimes 3 but never 2. Also, I need way more information than just his roster number and the name of the base he’s on if mail is to actually get delivered… which is what I assume he was trying to do with at least one of the lines? I don’t even know.