FOUR weeks down and PPW is creeping closer! What to expect? Many Plebes will be acclimated by now, some may still be struggling, but do not be dismayed parents, the Academy has all eyes and ears out, and they are dutifully coming alongside everyone that may need extra encouragement.
In my book, A USNA Mom’s Journal, I share information about phone calls. In this case, it is the second phone call coming up in a few days – Remember that the roller coaster continues, and you never know what kind of a day or week your Plebe has had. All I can say is be prepared again for the call to go either way. Continue your role as a good listener! If you had a great phone call last time, this one may also be great – or it may be more tentative. It helps to remember that whatever frustrations your Plebe may have will be vented safely with you, so take it all with a grain of salt, knowing that they will be all the better for having had the opportunity to vent and get things off their chest.
By now, many Plebes will have gotten “the point” of the whole induction exercise and what the end goal is for Plebe Summer, so you may find that your Plebe is finding the routine very tiresome. I remember the second call with our first Mid – he told us how he got what the Detailers were doing but found that the routine was getting “old and annoying!” He understood why things were the way they were, but was just ready for it to end. This is very normal – they get it and want to move on, but patience is the order of the day. Creating habits takes time, and repetition is key. What they are learning needs to become instinct. Also remember that there is a reason behind everything that happens. Read my blog post where I discuss what I learned with some JOs (Junior Officers) on deployment.
Recently there was the “change of guard” – new Detailers for the 2nd Set have taken take over so all that is familiar will no longer be… Different Detailers may be drastically different: different personalities, leadership styles, different atmosphere, and a different set of priorities. It is all a part of the training… and it will be good practice for when the Brigade reforms and for when they go out into the Fleet. I remember seeing a friend of my then-Plebe in pictures. During first set her hair was down and during second set she was wearing barrettes. During PPW I saw her and asked her why she was not allowed to wear hairpins or barrettes during first set to help keep her hair away from her face. She mentioned that the first set of Detailers did not “allow” them to but the second set of Detailers encouraged it. Know that things will change, either slightly or drastically, but things will change!
Further, from Induction Day until just about this time, Plebes are being “deconstructed” or broken down, if you will. These high achievers who have always been concerned about “ME” and always being on top, should have learned to put themselves last for the team. No longer is it self, but it should now be others BEFORE self. Assuming everything is moving forward on schedule, we are now past the half-way mark when second set Detailers begin the arduous task of building the Plebes back up – the Navy way! Be encouraged: It is tough, but there is light at the end of the tunnel! We have all been there and our Plebes and we have survived. So will you and your Plebe! Just hang in there – two or so more weeks.
Be excited but be prepared for things to go either way on the call. It will help to continue to actively listen, to be encouraging, and to let them know they are getting so close – Plebe Summer will be close to the end and you will be together soon. You are past the midpoint and there is no turning back now – if they have made it this far, they can hang on just a little longer!
I am proud of the Plebe parents – I know it is hard. I have walked in your shoes as have many other parents before you. At this point in time, I still found myself spontaneously crying – anywhere! I actually still do just thinking about our journey with our Mids and how far they have come, how much they have grown, and how our role as parents has changed… Below is a picture of our son as a Detailer when he was a Firstie. How far they will go indeed!
The hardest part as parents is letting go, and hopefully, you have learned that your Plebes are in good hands, and that it is OK to let go and allow them to grow up and be self sufficient and independent. That is the best gift we can give our kids as parents and that is the one thing the Academy does very well – if your Plebe hits a road block, they WILL figure it out. So it is time to let go…
We are living testimony that you will survive and you will be OK! There is a saying at the Naval Academy – the four years at USNA are divided into thirds – Plebe Summer is the first third, Plebe Year is the second third, and the remaining three years are the last third. You are almost finished with a third of your way through! Before you know it, you will be giving the next crop of Plebe parents advice next year. And as you prepare for PPW, it is good to keep in mind that your journey is right for you. Everyone’s journey is a little – or a lot – different, and that is OK. As long as your Plebe and your family are good that is all you need.
If you have not yet listened to my podcast episodes yet, you may find them helpful. You can tune in here:
And as always, I’m here to help, support, encourage, give advice , listen and just cheer all of you on.