I remember it so vividly… the night before I-Day
Our day began at our favorite restaurant for breakfast on I-Day Minus One. We spent it together as a family, walking around Annapolis to get oriented. We went to the Yard to choose the spot where we would meet after the Swearing-In. Just after noon our oldest, the incoming Plebe, received a call from a dear friend’s son who had just commissioned and was going Medcorps. The call was just what my son needed – he had been less talkative than usual, more argumentative than usual (see my blog post on argumentative goodbyes), and we could tell that he was a bit withdrawn and not his jovial self.
After a 20-minute conversation with the recent graduate, it seemed as if a cloud had lifted and our incoming Plebe was reassured and ready to face the challenge and get off the Yard.
Sometime during our walk around DTA, some upper-class Mids recognized his short haircut for what it was and yelled at him from a car window – “Plebe!” This was obviously meant as something derogatory but this incident brought on an amused smile. Our son said, “And so it begins!” – the gauntlet was thrown. Yes, Plebe Summer is full of mind games and this was just the beginning.
That evening I went over my checklist of things to do and items not to forget for the following morning’s 7:30 report time. Our Incoming reluctantly went to sleep, and after everything was set and breakfast prepped, I retired as well. I remember lying awake unable to sleep. I knew things would change and that they would never be the same. I also knew that he would not be “ours” any longer. He would belong to the Navy and they would develop him into an independent, capable adult – a Naval Officer that would not need Mom and Dad as much any more. I knew that our home would feel empty without him, and my heart ached. This was necessary but all too painful. I had a gut-wrenching feeling and an emptiness I could not explain.
Nervous butterflies fluttered about in my stomach and my mind was racing. I wondered if my son was awake and quietly walked to his door and listened but there was no sound so I went back to try to sleep once more, to no avail.
I did finally fall asleep having tossed and turned and watched the clock creep slowly all night. 12, 12:15, 12:25… Unlike me, my hubby slept like a log! So this is for those parents that are night owls tonight, here is my version of this classic. I hope that it lulls you to sleep and know that my heart is with you!
‘Twas the night before I Day, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even my Plebe;
The papers were organized in a folder with care,
In hopes that processing would be fast and fair;
The Midsibs were nestled all snug in their racks;
With visions of Detailers dancing with snacks;
Daddy in Midstore jammies,
and me with my Navy sweats,
Had just settled our brains for pre I-Day rest,
When inside my head there arose such a clatter,
I tossed in my bed and not knowing what was the matter.
Away to my Plebe’s door I flew like a flash,
And carefully listened but all was hush .
The moonlight shined brightly,
And reminded me of morning – coming quickly,
When what to my sleepy eyes did appear,
But a blue rim cap and shiny white sneakers,
With a little Detailer so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment I should hit the deck!
Louder than Navy fans her yells they came,
And she whistled, and pouted, and called Plebes by name:
“Now, Vana! now, David! now Jane and Victor!
Run, Maxwell! on, Abby! on, Tatiana and Richard!
To the top of the stairs! up to Red Beach!
Now run, run, run faster or suffer will each!”
As the Plebes ran fast to avoid getting dressed down,
When they reached the stairs they tried hard not to fall down;
So to the top of the stairs the Plebes they flew
With their bag full of issues, and their backpacks too—
And then, in a chorus, I heard on Red Beach
The reciting of rates and Reef Points from each.
As I strained to find mine in the sea of white,
Down came a Plebe with his eyes full of fright.
Dressed in white from their head to their feet,
And whiteworks were sparkling white and neat;
A bundle of uniforms he had flung on his back,
And he looked like Santa carrying his pack,
Eyes on the boat, looking straight ahead;
His nose in Reef Points and his cheeks were flushed red!
His mouth was not smiling but rather a frown he had made,
His haircut was close with a number one blade;
And the Dixie Cup on his head was precisely placed,
And the arm was extended at 90 degrees
While reading their Reef Points in the cool breeze!
They could not laugh, or talk, rules so many,
They squared their corners, and yelled chow calls a-plenty,
I heard them say “Sir, Yes Sir!” and Ma’am, yes Ma’am!”,
And a tear fell from my eye – and there went my jam
But soon I knew I had nothing to dread;
My Plebe spoke not a word, but walked straight to his quarters,
Unpacked the uniforms and issued items;
Soon running in straight lines into T-Court they came,
And they filed in and sat down with flat backs in their chairs;
They sprang to their feet, and when asked the big question,
“I DO!” they all yelled without hesitation.
I was beaming with pride and I remembered their why —
“To serve our nation and to stand in the gap;
to keep everyone safe – we’ve got the watch!”
And that night although sad, I did manage to sleep,
And was glad that my Plebe and I were in the same town.
Soon I will see you in radiant Summer Whites and smiling as only you do;
Know that I am so proud of you!