Almost 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.
As I discuss in my book, A USNA Mom’s Journal, It is difficult when we are so used to being involved in our kids’ lives to all of a sudden be in a black hole and know NOTHING! It’s like going into “Mom withdrawal”. This is an important time for your Plebe’s formation, but also for us as military parents. It is a tough thing to let go, but try to look at the silver lining…you now exactly where your Plebe is when they wake up and when their head hits the pillow. You know they are not allowed to “skip class”, and that they are safe and well-looked after. You know they are not out drinking or worse… They are on their way to becoming leaders and Naval Officers. Take heart! You will soon be reunited! Trust the system, trust the Academy- they are fully committed to our sons’ and daughters’ success!
Second phone call is coming up – Remember that the rollercoaster 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 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.
Second set began with the “change of guard” – new Detailers from the 2nd Set take over and all that is familiar, will no longer be… Different Detailers may be drastically different, different personalities, leadership styles and often bring a 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 and during PPW I asked her why she was not allowed to wear hairpins or barrettes to help keep her hair away form her face. She mentioned that the first set of Detailers did not “allow” them but the second set of Detailers encouraged it, so know that things will change 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, after 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 at the half-way mark, when 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!
So be excited but be prepared for things to go either way. It will help to listen, to be encouraging, and to let them know they are getting so close! Hang in there – 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 you 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… 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 we need to let go…
We know that our kids are being stretched and are growing personally, physically, emotionally, and mentally to be men and women of duty, honor, and integrity. They are learning to live by the motto: Honor, Courage, Commitment. When you see them next, they will be grown men and women in their own right. They will be self-sufficient and responsible. We “N*ot College” parents can rest assured that our kids are where they are supposed to be!
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. Hang in there! You are almost finished with a third of your journey! We are living testimony that you will survive and you will be OK – Before you know it, you will be giving Plebe parents advice next year. Those of us who have gone before you have survived, as tough as it may be sometimes… So have our kids…be strong – You are not alone and you can do this!
Remember the Plebe Summer Challenge… Connect Spiritually and Rise Early – Wake with your Plebe and pray for them, Connect Physically – get active, Connect with Others – find your Battle Buddies and meet fellow parents, Connect Creatively – focus on ways to use your intellectual energy, and Connect in Service – get busy helping others – and Be Strong!
Some great podcast episodes to listen to are:
Finally! Advice for the Navy Dad Journey | Episode 21
Billy and the Plebes: What I Learned from I-Day and Plebe Summer – Part 1 | Episode 19
Billy and the Plebes: What I Learned from I-Day and Plebe Summer – Part 2 | Episode 20
Riding the Roller Coaster of Shifting Emotions & Relationships | Episode 10
What are Sponsors Anyway? | Episode 5
I-Day and Pebe Summer: Two Thirds of the USNA Journey | Episode 2
Not Your Usual Summer Camp | Episode 1
You can listen to more episodes here: https://usnamidmomsandmore.podbean.com/.
Feel free to reach out with questions. And as always, we are all here to help, support, encourage, give advice , listen and just cheer all of you on! GO NAVY!!