How 2/C Parents Weekend exceeded, yet failed to meet every expectation

With all the hype around 2/C Parents Weekend, there was no way it could meet expectations. Except it did. But it didn’t. Seems everything about being an Academy parent is complicated (probably by our own doing).

First, a few topline observations:

  1. The weekend reminded us that our family doesn’t deserve to be blessed with everything that comes with being associated with the Academy, both through the Academy and non-affiliated support like other families. Of course, being an Academy family can be a tremendous pain in the neck.
  2. Good Lord was the weather awful.
  3. I can’t believe he’s more than halfway to Commissioning Week. Time is moving much, much too fast.
  4. I hardly took any pictures and I am sure I will be kicking my self for years to come.
  5. I wish the days during Parents Weekend were 48 hours long so I could have done everything I hoped to do.
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Falcon’s first visit to The Yard!

The Friday plan was simple enough – drive down to The Yard in time to get Mid Mom & Mid Sib connected with the Mid for lunch, a tour of his room and a class. I get to spend a lot of time on The Yard, so I thought it would be great for them to have these moments. We were running behind but made it in time and despite all the warnings about not being able to park on The Yard, I found my normal spot near the 8th wing dumpsters open and waiting for me. We made our way to T Court to seen noon formation and wait for the Mid (who took his two-week-old virus to Brigade Medical). That actually went fairly smoothly, despite some stranger coming up and telling me, in no uncertain terms, Falcon shouldn’t be in this part of The Yard, despite the presence of about a half-dozen other dogs. Falcon seemed unfazed, so we shrugged it off. Once the rest of the family was assembled, off I went.

First stop, our rental, which was just across Spa Creek in Eastport. You know, when you choose something online, it’s always a crapshoot. This time, we came out on the right side. The place was clean, cozy, and well-appointed. I knew it would serve us well for the weekend. With the car unpacked and Falcon settled in, I headed out to collect provisions, trading texts with the Mid the whole way as he gave me the highlights – they had lunch in King Hall and sat near one of my favorite Mids and her Mom, a Facebook friend. Perfect! They made it to class, they checked out stones for the class rings – holy crap, that’s happening this year, too. The Ring Dance! And, they got to see the Mid’s room, which neither did on Plebe Parents Weekend and met BOTH his roommates and their families.

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Photo by the Mid Sib

By this time I had completed my self-appointed duties and swung back to The Yard to collect them. But the Mid had a different plan, he wanted to do some homework and get a nap (still not feeling 100%) before hanging out. Honestly a little disappointed, but I brought the rest of the crew back to the rental.

When I collected the Mid, I learned we had additional dinner guests coming, which thrilled me to no end. The only thing better than cooking dinner is cooking for a larger group, so when we got back, the Mid got settled in (he “had” the weekend, which meant he could sleep over … and Mid Mom could nurse her under the weather son), I went about putting together dinner.

The other families arrived and, I won’t lie to you, it was great. We shared one meal and about 1,000 stories. We had never met the parents of our Mid’s roommate, but the conversation was like one you’d have with a longtime group of friends. It was a particular joy to see the Mids relaxed and sharing inside stories and laughs. We probably could have gone on all night, but there was a long day ahead.

Still not feeling 100%, the Mid wanted to sleep late Saturday, which was fine with everyone, even Falcon, who spent most of the evening guarding that particular member of her flock.

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Falcon keeping guard over the Mid as he sleeps in late on Saturday morning.

Well, sleeping in late was great, but some dominoes had to fall. We had a leisurely breakfast and I got him back to Bancroft to prepare for the game. When I returned, we got ourselves ready and checked the forecast once more – all the rain had been erased. Huzzah! Certainly, they wouldn’t do that unless they were certain, right?

Well, we decided to take the 30-minute walk to the game. I realized this would preclude us from being at a tailgate party I so sorely wanted to attend. There were literally dozens of people I wanted to meet – and wanted my family to meet. But I thought, well, if I know our Class of 2020 families like I think I do, they’ll be partying well after the game is over and we’ll catch up then, including the few folks who said they wanted me to sign my book (for the record, that request is embarrassing, humbling and wildly exciting all at the same time!).

The Mid Mom was adamant about seeing the walk on, so we hustled to our seats to be there. The walk on never fails to impress me.

20180908_152726The rain has started to fall by game time and on one of my trips to the concourse, I ran into a Mid Mom (not our class) and her husband. This particular woman had been such an amazing blessing to me during Plebe Summer, Plebe Year and beyond. Without her counsel, I honestly don’t know if I would have made it through the ordeal. She spotted me, called my name and we had a great chat. It was such a joy to connect!

Our Mid soon found us and told us his company had now lost the rest of the weekend for some issue during the march over to the stadium. So while he could come back to the rental for the evening, he would have to return to Bancroft by lights out. Quite a bummer. And the weather continued to deteriorate. By halftime, the Mid Mom and Mid Sib here soaked to the bone and shivering. The Mid urged us to leave, so we did. Well, there went any other chance of connecting with all the folks I had become friends with in a virtual space. As they say, family first, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was sorely disappointed (and we missed one hell of a game!). So we Ubered back.

Side note: As we weaved through the halftime crowd in the concourses, it was so easy to spot the Plebes and Plebe Parents. Not that other parents don’t hug their Mids hard, but there’s something that much more special about hugging your Plebe.

By the time we got to the rental, the Mid texted to say his weekend had been “unlocked.” Crazy how fast things shift. I went back to the stadium after the game to gather him so he wouldn’t have to walk back, then brought the family together. And this time, we were joined by two families. What a great evening. We ordered pizzas, ate, drank and laughed for hours. Another evening that could have gone on for days without one complaint from me.

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Breakfast complete, everything packed, almost ready to exit.

The next morning amidst a steady rain, Mid Sib and I let them sleep in and headed to Naval Bagels to collect breakfast. What a classic bagel shop! I love that they use playing cards for your order numbers. After a wait, we returned to find Mid Mom & Mid finally rolling out of bed and ready to eat. Perfect timing.

After another leisurely breakfast, Mom provided an old home remedy for the Mid’s virus and we finally started packing up. Everyone but Falcon piled in the car to get him back to Bancroft so he could catch up on all the homework he thought he’d get done over the weekend.

Amazing how timing works out, though. As he came down to make his second trip to the room with supplies, the roommate and family who joined us the first time came strolling up, them a Mid Mom and Mid who joined us the second night pulled up. It made a difficult goodbye even more difficult. But we finally found our way back to the car, then to the rental, where we loaded up the car for the rainy ride home.

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Falcon found the whole weekend tiring and didn’t seem terribly motivated to leave.

As much as I enjoyed the weekend, as much as so many things went right, I selfishly thought of all the folks I wished I had connected with. I want us to have a week-long get-together, just hanging out sharing laughs and stories. Yes, I know that won’t happen and I know there won’t be another parents weekend. And it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but we have gone from staring at a clock during Plebe Summer and wishing it would slow down, to staring at a clock counting down to Commissioning Week and praying it will slow down. The inevitable is coming – these amazing young men and women are going to commission, head into The Fleet and do amazing things. But just as certain, the far-flung group of parents who have created such amazingly tight bonds knows that once that happens, they will always be Navy Family, but things will never be quite the same.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the weekend. Loved every moment. But I selfishly just didn’t want it to end. And not just because there were more people to see and more fun to savor, but the end of the weekend was a reminder that we’ve turned a corner. The Class of 2020 is no longer full of underclassmen. Its members have signed their 2 for 7s and are now headed full steam to commissioning.

It’s official. The Class of 2020 … and its parents … are on the clock.

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