As I discuss about at length in my book, A USNA Mom’s Journal, I am SO EXCITED for all N*avy parents, but especially for Plebe parents!!! Mids and Plebes will be coming home today for Thanksgiving break (unless they had an OPINFO assignment). For Plebes, it will be the first time that they have been home since they left for I-Day. It will be a great reunion for both you and your Plebe. For Firsties, it is a bittersweet “last” Thanksgiving home from USNA. Going forward after Commissioning, things become more uncertain. so you may not always get to spend holidays together and they may not always get to come home.
For our family, I am ecstatic this year because it is the first time in FIVE long years that all of my three now-officers will be home, under the same roof, at the same time! They were either deployed, had duty or watch, and could not get away, or we celebrated with grandparents and family elsewhere with whoever could be there. Semper Gumby!
For our Mid’s Plebe Year Thanksgiving homecoming, we chose to ask his besties and some of our family to greet them at the airport. Each person made a welcome sign and when they exited from the security checkpoint, they was taken surprised by the cheers from family and friends. I could tell that they were not necessarily happy to have the attention, but in the end he was glad to see everyone. That is the only time we planned a public surprise like that… We learned our lesson, but are glad we did it! Everyone was invited for light snacks at our home, and I can’t tell you how fast our Plebe was out of his uniform and in his civvies – Superman would not have changed faster! It was a great start to our Thanksgiving.
So what do Mids do when they visit home? Sleeping in may be a favorite pastime while home, and you may find that your Plebe asks you what the plans are for the next day, at what time they have to be ready, and expect them to be ready at the exact time you stated the previous day. USNA is doing its job!
You may also find that they just want to hang out at home or with friends. Our Mids always wanted to visit their favorite spots or restaurants, just relax, and catch up on their favorite shows or movies. I remember feeling so overjoyed and at peace when each of our Plebes returned home for Thanksgiving. We were all under the same roof again, and I have to say that it felt great! We laughed, talked, and enjoyed our time together.
For Thanksgiving dinner our Plebes took over their yearly duties – one made their famous mashed potatoes and the others made their world famous, made from scratch cranberry orange sauce, which turned out incredible, of course! And last but not least, our last one did their usual contribution – played video games or read a book… Thanksgiving dinner was extra special because they were finally home. I think one of the things the Academy did for our family was to teach us to appreciate the times that we are together even more – and that is exactly what we have tried to do, especially with our former Mids now in the Fleet, which makes their schedule is unpredictable.
You Plebe will be so happy to be away from the demanding routine and be so glad to be home., so it is a good idea to respect your time together and allow them to choose the pace and the activities. Some suggestions from our own experience? Try to not plan or set a schedule. Take advantage of Thanksgiving day to see family at one time and save other visits for the longer Christmas break. Try to allow your Plebe to unwind. Enjoy and do what they want or enjoy doing. They are so over-scheduled at the Academy, that they will appreciate not having one!
Also, don’t be surprised if their room has to be condemned at some point during their stay. They will most likely not lift a finger to put anything in its place simply because…THEY DON’T HAVE TO!!! For a few days anyway!
Cook to your heart’s content, enjoy time together, and just hang out. I would strongly suggest that you not ask your Plebe to wear their uniform during this short break unless they want to or offer to do so… They live in their uniforms 24/7 and it will be good for them mentally, emotionally and in every other way, to have a break from the routine and the attention it will generate at home where he/she may stand out.
Lastly, you may find that the day before they return, they may begin to “shut down”. They may get quiet, irritable, argumentative and down right grumpy, just like you may have experienced before I-Day, the end of PPW, or if you have had the opportunity to visit them in Annapolis. This will happen at various times especially during Plebe and possibly Youngster years. Try not to take it personally. Your Plebe has to “detach” from home and get in survival mode again. They have to get their game face on and each Plebe will do it in their own unique way. It may help to read my post “Irritable and Argumentative Goodbyes.”
Something you may find after the break is over and they return to the Yard, is that they may begin to question whether they belong at USNA . They have been with friends who may not have the level of commitments, responsibilities, expectations, academic and physical rigor, or the demands that our Midshipmen have. They may sometimes ponder all of the “fun” things that their friends get to do and that they are “missing”. This may cause them to doubt. Doubt is perfectly normal – all Midshipmen have a moment of doubt at one point or another during their four-year journey. Be ready to encourage them if/when this happens – remind them of why they chose to go the the Naval Academy. Remind them of their heart for service, of how they were chosen to be there. Plebe year is almost halfway over, and with Youngster year comes more freedom. They need to be patient and we need to help them keep their eye on the prize!
The few days of break will go in the blink of an eye, but you may get to see them in a couple of weeks for Army-N*avy and then it’s Christmas Break!! At that point, you will be half-way through the ACYear and almost two-thirds of the way through your journey at the Academy. As you may often hear, the first 1/3 is Plebe Summer, the 2nd third is Plebe Year, and the last third is the remaining three years! ).
If you do not have my book yet, A USNA Mom’s Journal is available at the Midstore or on my Etsy shop. I think you will find it an invaluable guide for the four years and for Commissioning and after, and a part of the proceeds from the sale of every book sold goes to Brigade and the Chaplain’s Fund.
I am always amazed at what an incredible USNA and N*avy family to which we all have the privilege to belong. As always, I am here to answer your questions and help guide you through. Enjoy your time together!