I wrote a post in July about dropping our oldest daughter, Amanda, off at the Army recruiting station to then ship off to Army Boot Camp at “Relaxin’ Jackson” ~ Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Your outpouring of support of Amanda’s decision to join the Army, and support of me as her weepy mother, warmed my soul.
I thought you might like an update on what is happening with Amanda. Because I like to write short-ish posts, I’ll give you the updates since her departure in serial form. I’d hate to lose you because I blathered on.
Boot Camp is an experience most of us will not, well . . . experience. Her insider’s view is interesting.
We learned from her letters that Boot Camp isn’t far from what you see in the movies. Richard Gere from An Officer and a Gentleman and Goldie Hawn from Private Benjamin looked over Amanda’s shoulder while she wrote her letters.
After we dropped Amanda off, she and a hundred or so other recruits from all over Northern California were put up a local hotel. The next morning, the Army bused them to a Processing Center (makes them sound like salami, right?), where they “hurried up and waited.” She spent the day in a back-spasm-inducing plastic chair and waited her turn at the Processing Center.
Being the considerate and caring mom that I am, I gave Amanda a printed and spiral bound copy of my novel as a going away gift. To give you an idea of the length of her waiting-around-time at the Center, she read half of the manuscript.
The next day, the recruits were up at 0-dark-thirty to catch planes to various Army bases across the U.S.
Do you remember the horrific heat, humidity, thunderstorms, and flash floods the South endured in early July? Record-breaking bad weather greeted Amanda in a hot and sweaty embrace when she walked off the plane.
Her first week at Fort Jackson was what the Army calls “Reception.” Sounds like a lovely royal wedding party, but it was physicals, fitness testing, and more paperwork. Her phone wasn’t taken away . . . yet . . . and she called us several times.
The next thing we received was a full-page form-letter.
I have arrived safely at my Basic Combat Training unit, and I am in good health. My Drill Sergeants has given me some important information I need to pass on to you…………….
You get the idea. Amanda would never say “I am in good health.” But, she filled in the Dear _____________: with “Madre and Padre.” We are not Spanish, but all three girls call us that. Don’t ask. I don’t know why.
(My note here . . . I’m dying to edit the form-letter and send it back to the Army with a link to the Strong vs Weak Word series . . . but I digress.)
The letter goes on to say she isn’t allowed to receive contraband such as alcohol, food, candy, or porn. Now I ask you. What God- and Army-fearing mom sends their kid porn? Octo-Mom? Isn’t she a stripper now?
We knew from materials Amanda received before leaving, a comment on my post made by the wife of a Drill Sergeant, and from a friend of Omawarisan, we wouldn’t hear from Amanda again for weeks.
Stay tuned. I’ll fill you in on what she wrote in her first letters.
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Russel Ray Photos said:
Makes one want to send some contraband………lol
Robin Coyle said:
I feel the same way! I’d like to seek some Hershey’s Kisses into the next care package.
Robin, you’re post touches so many. I would not want to be at Fort Jackson. I knew many who trained there while I attended the University of South Carolina and it is hot. Luckily, the storms have not been as bad lately.
Do you not wish you could write a grammar book for the Army, too?
You’d be happy to know I am not breaking down grammar to its basic elements. I am training as a teacher assistant, and that is part of what I will tutor and teach. Today the teacher actually said, “We try not to use it. It is overused.”
Robin Coyle said:
We “do” not in Sacramento, but it is a different kind of hot than the South. We say we have “dry heat,” like that is any better. Amanda loves the wild thunder and lightening storms that crop up in the afternoon.
I wonder what the commander of the base would think if I sent the form-letter to him marked up with my corrections. He would probably take offense and then take his anger out on Amanda. “Drop and give me 20 Soldier!”
Maybe you should point your teacher to the Strong vs Weak Word series! Sounds like we think alike. How long is your training program?
Let's CUT the Crap! said:
When my daughter went looking for her first job, I drove her to make life easier. She had no idea the job would have been with the army. The soldier who was going to take her to fill out forms didn’t appreciate my butting in and warning her where she was and what she was doing. On the other hand, maybe I should have let her. She wasn’t cut out for that sort of thing. Your daughter, on the other hand, has her life together. More power to her.
Robin Coyle said:
You are a smart mom. It takes a certain kind of person to do the military thing. BAD decision if you aren’t cut out for it. Not many people are. What did your daughter end up doing?
Pingback: Our Daughter Entered the Army ~ An Update ~ Part 3 « Robin Coyle
Dennis Langley said:
Hang in there, for both you and your daughter. It will get better…eventually. 😉
My favorite Quote: “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” I’m looking forward to the updates.
Thanks Dennis. She is stronger than I am!
Pingback: Our Daughter Entered the Army ~ An Update ~ Part 2 « Robin Coyle
Hi Robyn, I first went back and read your post about Amanda joining the army in July and the accompanying comments. I share their sentiments. I’m proud of you for supporting your daughter in her dreams (which may be a mother”s fears) and I’m very proud of her for becoming a part of those who protect our country. I too am proud to be an American, and I very much look forward to your updates.
Hey Penny . . . thank you so much. I appreciate you taking the time to look at the old post. She is a tough cookie. She gives me no choice but to be a tough cookie too!
Yeah, daughters are like that, gotta love ’em though – tough cookie and all. Actually in today’d world I’d rather our daughters were ‘tough cookies’ than not!
Go Strong Women! Unite!
on thehomefrontandbeyond said:
I will stand tune and all of us (blogger friends) will be here for you 🙂
Your comment made me tear up. Aaah . . . so lovely to have blog friends who give such heartfelt support.
Amazing…something I always thought I would like to do…but never did!! Glad she did it!!
Why didn’t you do the military thing?
Glad it appears to be going well, and all the best to you both.
Some odd rules but it seems to make some sense.
She is doing well because the military is her “thing.” I suppose the rules make sense so the new soldiers stay focused.
Lynne Ayers said:
Must have been hard to be out of touch …
Torture! But I’m glad they told us we wouldn’t hear from her.
I am sure she will be doing great!
Thank you for the update..and I’ll be looking forward to the next post on the subject.
I’ll make sure I keep her in my prayers =)
Thank you sweetie! Keep her, and all our soldiers in your prayers, if there is room.
There’s always room!
All the best for her out there, I’m sure she’ll do just fine. Even though I have never been to the army, or even used a gun before, but I know from my days in training that she will start off with a bumpy ride and later she’ll adjust, eventually, training becomes routine, in my case, it became fun.
Her personality fits the military. She likes (and does best in) routine, discipline, and structure. And, she is a leader. I think she will rise to the top quickly.
All the best to her then. 🙂
God… the fact that it’s a template letter that gets sent out is quite awful, really?! I understand why they do it, I guess, but still – how clinical. Especially at a time when you must be really concerned! At least she was able to personalise it a little bit and I’m sure she will be a-ok!
Nice little cliffhanger for us here, Robin. I shall look forward to further instalments. Keep your chin up. 🙂
Perfect description of the letter . . . “clinical.” I think the Army is training the parents alongside the new soldiers. Her personalization of the letter is “soooooooooo” Amanda. She has a sense of humor and while a rule follower, likes to break the mold.
My chin is up Katy. Thank you for your long-distance support!
You are so welcome – I think you are both really inspiring. I’m reading ‘Slaughterhouse 5’ right now, for the first time ever. Have you read that (you probably have…). It’s nothing like I expected it to be but there is something really great about it. I realise that I should be recommending books to you that are about peace and what not, but still, it’s an important text in the cannon.
…hmm, can’t imagine where your girl gets her sense of humour from…! 😉
I probably shouldn’t have made that comment about SH5 there, sorry if that’s offended you in any way… (I’m such a tit.).
Robin Coyle said:
No offense taken at all! I read Slaughterhouse 5 back in the Dark Ages . . . otherwise known as high school. I remember liking it but don’t remember much about it. I think I still have my high school copy. Maybe it has turned to dust by now.
I think Amanda gets her sense of humor from her dad, not me! She is fun to sit and have a beer with. Can’t wait until we can do that again.
I’m so pleased Robin, because I was really worried. It was such a tactless to comment upon. I’ve just been really struck as I read the back about how forward thinking and insightful it is.
I find that a good sense of humour can provide endless sources of energy and positivity and just really help in tough situations. It won’t be long before you guys get to sit around and shoot the breeze over some cold ones. 🙂
Robin Coyle said:
You are sweet to be worried about it. We’ve had a long time to get used to knowing she will be in harm’s way someday.
As you say, we use our humor as a coping mechanism. Plus, how can I be weepy when she is so happy?
It says a lot about her that she has the spirit to throw the Madre and Padre line in there with all the boot camp stuff going on around her. She’s going to be great!
She has a great sense of humor and a playful nature. (Gee, I wonder where she got that?!?!) Thank you again for helping us know what the first few weeks would be like for her . . . and us, the worried parents!
Vanessa Chapman said:
Ooh that all sounds tough, for you and her, I’m sure she will get so much out of it though. Do keep us updated on her progress, it’s a really interesting read so far!
The support here is amazing. I wondered what sort of response this post would receive. It could have been, “Yawn, enough about the Army, Robin.”
The response has been AMAZING! Gosh I love my blog friends. Thanks Vanessa!
Vikki (The View Outside) said:
You must miss her so much!
OMG! I can’t beleive some parents send porn LMAO 🙂
We do miss her but that hasn’t been as bad as not hearing from her. She has been away at college since 2005, so we are used to her not being in the house. However, the house seems quiet with her being In Fort Jackson. No phone calls, not texts, no emails. Strangely quiet.
Vikki (The View Outside) said:
Thanks honey! I need those hugs.
Wow, Robin, this is quite an experience to read about especially as a mom of young girls – now wondering about the choices they will make and how I will cope. Thank you for sharing.
When the kids are little, you can influence decisions and the friends they hang out with. When they are adults, you hope that the foundation you laid when they were little carries them through with good decisions as adults. Why? You can’t do anything about it but support them in their life choices. Sigh.
Polly Robinson said:
Good to see how Amanda’s doing ~ love your comments re the Army letter template ~ heh-heh 🙂
DYING to edit the letter! I don’t think the Army would appreciate it however.
Thank you for sharing, Robin. I’m glad your daughter is doing well, and I look forward to hearing about her letters. Everyone in my family thanks her for her serving.
And we thank your family for the support of her passion for serving, as well as that of her fellow soldiers. I couldn’t do it!
Wow! I had no idea it was pretty much like the movies. She is a tough cookie! I can’t wait to hear what her letters say! I can’t imagine that training in that heat–misery! Ugh! Can’t wait to hear more!
Full-on heat, humidity, full uniform and helmet, 50-pound backpack, boots not yet broken in, no sleep in a barrack with 60 women . . . and no MOM!
I imagine how you must have torn open the letter in excitement at this first bit of contact, reading it over and over, then getting out your marking pen and circling redundant form letter words.
Thanks for letting us know she’s doing well, Robin.
I DID rip the letter open thinking it was a “real” letter from Amanda. The desire to edit the letter happened by about paragraph two.
The crumb of word from Amanda was worth slogging through the poor writing.
Oh my G. You need to edit that form letter and send it back. I think that would be a riot! Then you’ll have all sorts of Men In Black swarming your house to investigate. Heck, maybe you could do it if you’re bored one day. 😉
Wishing you and your daughter the best!
The letter is poorly written and makes me cringe. However, I couldn’t do what the Drill Sergeant is so I should be quiet.
It would be fun to edit the letter, but the Men in Black might not like my “perky” writing style.
Thanks Kate. I’m looking forward to when she has computer privileges and can see your well-wishes.
My goodness. That’s a weird letter but I guess. It’s better than nothing. Best wishes to you all.
The first two weeks or so were hard with no word from her except for a form-letter. The hand-written letters we’ve received from her since then are fantastic. Watch for them in future posts!
🙂 I’m sure… I will.
Eagle-Eyed Editor said:
Best of wishes to you and your family. She’s chosen a challenging road. More power to her.
Thank you Eagle. Her decision matches her sensibilities.
Madame Weebles said:
She’s a tough gal, that Amanda. More power to her.
She is tough. And determined. And focused.
Perhaps you’re supposed to tell all her friends not to send her porn…. or other contraband? I know there’s a similar letter from the Navy in my mother’s house when my oldest brother joined the Navy. I should check sometime to see if they mentioned porn….
Tell her to read your blog when she can to see how many strangers wish her well and admire her for her convictions and service to her country.
I will tell her! I know she will appreciate the well wishers.
Thanks for the update Robin and I’m glad to see you haven’t lost your humor up in all this. Sending good thoughts your way 🙂
It is either laugh, or cry. Since she is happy, I’ll take laughing!
Acccck! I have deep respect for both Amanda and you! I’m glad you chose to update us.
I guess it’s good to know that while still hot here in the South, it’s not 105-degree hot. I hope she’s acclimated. Go, Amanda!
Thank you Anne. We are proud of Amanda. Her letters are full of news and give a good feel for what Boot Camp is like.
She seems to be acclimating. Since we live in Sacramento, she is used to heat. It isn’t like Southern tho. We like to say it is a “dry heat,” like that is any better!
The “dry heat” thing always cracks me up. Oh! Dry heat! Yes, please! It also makes me think of “dry heaves.” I think I’m so used to the humidity now, and yet… it still comes up, as I approach my 40th birthday.
I think she might have “dry heaves” after the grueling workouts they put the soldiers through.
The “wet heaves” gives one a truly bad hair day.
Thank you T.W. I have the same respect for our soldiers. I couldn’t do it.
T. W. Dittmer said:
My very best hopes and thoughts for you and your daughter. I have nothing but the deepest respect for those brave people that serve.