This was supposed to be a smooth week – drop the final batch of stuff to the Mid and wait for a picture of him signing his 2 for 7s. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my time as a Mid Dad, it’s that things rarely go the way you expect them to go. Semper Gumby.
The drop off day moved from Wednesday to Monday, which really wasn’t a big deal. I made it to The Yard a bit early, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Sprint Football team practice, but couldn’t locate them as they had moved indoors to escape the crazy weather of the day. (Seriously – it was a beautiful day until I crossed the Bay Bridge, then a downpour of biblical proportions, followed by gray skies, then brilliant sunlight. An hour or so later, another deluge. Crazy.)
I strolled The Yard and took in the relative silence – it’s amazing how much calmer it is in the summer. A group of Plebes prepared sailboats for a training run and a number of Mids in PT gear ran here and there. I bumped into a pair of Plebe parents near Tecumseh, waiting to catch a glimpse of their daughter at evening meal formation before heading back to Mississippi. We had a nice chat and their daughter seems to be in a good spot.
Eventually, my Mid emerged from the Halsey Field House and after a much-needed shower, emptied the truck into his academic year room (one of his roommates had already moved in for summer school). Then he found a spot for his upright bass. His sponsor parent delivered an enormous bag of stuff, which my Mid hauled upstairs as well. (Side note: God bless these sponsor parents – our Mid has a great one who has helped him out more times than I can count).
While his roomie was unable to join us for dinner, his sponsor and another Mid who has become part of our extended family (on Facebook, USNA parents often use the hashtag #YourMidIsMyMid and that’s a charge I really believe in) could, so off we went.
The conversation covered a lot of ground and I mostly listened, picking up bits and pieces about life at the Academy. Part of the discussion was about Mids who would not be returning, most of their own accord. The Mid who joined us mentioned that they had a PRT in two days; they had not yet passed the running portion. And this upcoming test was their last chance – failing the test would likely mean being separated from the Academy.
The gravity of that possibility didn’t really hit me for two reasons. One, this Mid is a truly good kid. I mean, they discussed how they had been focused on getting into the Academy all through high school, purposely avoiding being around kids who could get them in trouble. They had attended a military school for a year before coming to Annapolis. And they talked about how they had made a point of staying away from negative elements while here. Second, they had been working their tail off to prepare for this test. I was so confident that I made sure to, again, extend an invitation to hang out with us during the upcoming 2/C Parents Weekend, since their parents wouldn’t be able to make it.
We said our goodbyes and I headed home.
Wednesday arrived and so did a text from a mom whose Mid I had taken to the airport some time back (you know, #YourMidIsMyMid). She said her Mid was really anxious about the upcoming 2 for 7s – filled with doubt. A number of factors rolled together had them questioning if they were on the right path. We exchanged text messages for an hour and the strain was palpable. Despite the fact these young men and women are, well, young men and women, they are still our kids. I’m not sure I helped a whole lot, but when we ended our conversation, she had a few ideas on how to help.
I turned my attention to the other Mid and their PRT. Hadn’t heard from them by the time I hit the rack Wednesday. Thursday went from morning to afternoon and still no word. I reached out to my Mid and when he finally responded, it was two-fold – he hadn’t heard anything and he was worried.
I was out late Thursday night when I got a message from that Mid. It was just two words: “I’m gone.”
My heart sank. I wanted to reach through the phone and give them a big hug, tell them it was going to be all right, that this was just another step in life’s journey. #YourMidIsMyMid is usually a happy hashtag – we sent another Mid a care package (as I often did for this Mid – they love coffee) or brought them along for dinner. This time it was a gut punch and it hurt. A lot. All I could do was offer to stay in touch and help whenever they thought I could help. The words on the screen looked awfully hollow.
Later that evening, my Mid expressed his dismay. The anxiety of the other two Mids weighing on me, I asked him if he was sure about signing the 2 for 7s. He was. And because he’s my son, he laid out six very logical points as to why he was ready to sign. I told him that was all well and good, but that this was as much a “gut” decision as a logical one. He said he was comfortable with it.
And on Friday, he signed a contract committing to finishing his degree at the Academy, then serving at least five years in The Fleet.
As for the other two Mids, one is on their way home and I heard that the other is feeling better about things and has been given a bit more time before making a final decision.
Typical of life at the Academy – one size does not fit all; each Mid (and their family) have their own story.