Can’t Believe It – the Finish Line is in Sight!

Hang in there Plebe Parents – You are almost at the finish line! You are so much closer to seeing your sons and daughters and I can’t wait for you to see them in their shining summer whites.

Get ready – You will be amazed, overjoyed, proud, emotional, and so much more! Let the tears flow – again. It is the most amazing feeling to give them a hug and see them. If Plebes go to the Baysox Bowie game it is the first time that Plebes wear their Summer Whites and their first time off the Yard.

Plebes have been under the watchful eye and careful training of their Detailers, and this is the first time that they can prove just what they have learned…Will they remember “others before self” and make choices that were beneficial to their squad? Or are they going to return to Week 1 and think of themselves first without regard to how their actions will affect their squad and their company? It is very tempting to borrow a phone from a stranger or another parent that may be there to call Mom and Dad or to go “meet Mom or Dad by the bathroom,”… but after 5+ weeks of Plebe Summer training, are they, and us as parents, willing to throw it all away being so close to the finish line? Are they willing to get their Squad in trouble? Because it has happened, and many who have tried have also sacrificed time with their family during PPW as a consequence… I hope this is not you nor your Plebe!

You may hear advice from some parents about meeting your Plebe when you are not supposed to, at the game or at chapel, or giving them things that they are not allowed to have, or sending items with friends to be given at the game or elsewhere… And here is where the rubber meets the road – we as parents cannot be complicit in encouraging our kids to do the wrong thing. We need to encourage them to do the right thing!

Trust me! They will learn to navigate and test the system both within bounds and sometimes out of bounds, to maneuver and solve problems. That is what they will have to do as Naval Officers and is a part of what they will learn.

To illustrate, during Plebe Year, our oldest joined a club in which he had no real interest so that he could go off campus with the group during their outings – he did it “legally”. But crossing over the line is a whole different matter, especially at this juncture. If your son or daughter REALLY needs an item, they will find it, or their squad/company mates will help them find it. That is what is supposed to happen. When we introduce ourselves to the equation, we may want to “fix it” as we have done all their lives, but we interfere with that process.

During Plebe year, one of our good friends’ Plebe had a company mate that got moved out of their room and could not take a single item along. This company mate had not been very kind to our friend’s Plebe but putting others before self, they offered their company mate use of uniforms, computer, and whatever was needed while the room and everything in it was out of commission. This not only earned our friend’s Plebe the respect of her company but also of the company mate that had been unkind. This helped to bridge their differences and build trust.

That is not to say that Mids will not push the boundaries, because they do. Messy rooms, unmade beds, and being occasionally argumentative at home, are all a reflection that they follow the rules – but home is the one place that they feel they should not have to… On the Yard, they will find ways to work the rules in their favor, always walking towing line, but rarely crossing over the line. We personally know of at least a dozen Plebes from our Midshipmen’s classes that have been separated from the Academy due to poor decision-making, and at least five of the separations occurred during Plebe year. Some even made the same poor choice more than once!

I have included a picture of our oldest at the Bowie Baysox game. As tempted as we were to go, we did not. At the time, the Alumni Association did not run the photo program, so we found this one on the Plebe Summer photos site. What a sight for sore eyes! It was so worth the wait!

Let’s try to help our Plebes to do the right thing and to depend on their squad and Company. And it all starts with us as parents. We need to let go. Your Plebe will survive and will find a way to solve the problem! As always, we are all here to help. All you have to do is ask. GO NAVY!!! – BEAT ARMY!!

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