Well, it’s happened.
Teeny – otherwise known as Sarah (I can now use her name, because she’s no longer a minor, and she cannot be victimized by any crazies who may or may not want to harm me by getting to her, because she can kick anyone’s ass) – has left the home.
Sarah is now 18 years old, and she has made a very grave, very important decision to serve her nation in the United States Marine Corps.
Yes, my daughter has joined the Marines.
We have established a tradition service in our family, and Sarah – being a stubborn, determined child – has decided to one-up her parents, who are both Army veterans, and join the Marine Corps for the challenge of her life!
So, today Rob, the Redhead and I got in the car and drove 45 minutes to the military entrance processing command at Ft. Meade, MD to see Sarah raise her hand and swear her oath to protect this nation and its constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. After the swearing in, she was to have boarded the bus and headed off to Parris Island for basic training.
That was not to be. The bureaucracy, as usual, bent everyone over, with the government “shutdown” as an exacerbating factor.
Sarah’s recruiter told me yesterday that I needed to be at Ft. Meade at about 0900, as they were going to swear in and get on the bus around 10. We arrived at 0845 and were told that they wouldn’t even swear in until after 1100. So Rob, the Redhead and I headed over to Burger King on base, and sat around for two hours, sipping caffeinated beverages! We were all exhausted! Sarah called around 0930 to inform us that she may not even swear in today, due to a bureaucratic snafu.
When we made it back to MEPS, we were informed that, yes, her departure had been delayed. You see, Marines usually ship on a Monday, but yesterday was a holiday, so the Marines had to join a large shipment of recruits today. However, limited funding prohibits any overtime pay for the civilians working at MEPS, so they apparently couldn’t process the unusually large number of recruits, leaving my daughter and her friend stranded at a hotel for another day!
Yes, she will ship tomorrow, but I won’t see her swear in, which, as a veteran, is a huge deal for me. I also won’t see her board that bus on her way to her new life, which pisses me off to no end.
So now we’re back home. It’s just a little quieter here today. Sarah’s room is clean (for a change) and vacuumed. I’ve taken the sheets off her bed and washed them. her clothes are neatly put away in her closet, and all the books she enjoyed as a child, and all her goofy, silly mementos and knick-knacks have been put away for safekeeping. She had been driving my car since she got her license last year, and that’s been cleaned out as well. She handed over her cell phone (not that she will need it in boot camp) and I tossed out her half-eaten Subway tuna sandwich that had been sitting in the fridge for a few days.
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t strange. My little girl is starting a brand new life. Last night I had this dream about the time when she first came to live with us. She had been there about a week – she was only 5 years old – when she went downstairs and somehow managed to tip over a 7-foot Christmas tree onto herself. There was glass and ornaments everywhere, and she was terrified!
Sarah came to us when she was only 5. She was torn away from her biological parents. She spoke no English. Hell, she barely spoke anything at all. She didn’t know how to use a toothbrush or properly wash herself. She didn’t know how to speak, or how to eat with utensils. She didn’t know how to brush her own hair. She ate with her hands. She had tooth decay and lice.
It wasn’t a good situation.
She had some emotional issues, likely brought on by being essentially abandoned.
But we worked on it. We fought tooth and nail. I yelled a lot. Frustration. Tears. Rage. Yeah… there was all of it.
And yet, here she is. A graduate of one of the best high schools in the country with an advanced diploma, and a Marine Corps recruit. She made this choice to turn her life around, and face the biggest challenge of her life!
I couldn’t be prouder, and yet, there’s this tiny sense of loss. She’s grown up. She doesn’t need me any longer. It’s pretty jarring.
The nest is hardly empty. The Redhead keeps me hopping, that’s for sure. But this is part one. He’ll be gone too in a couple of years, and I know I have raised them right.
Congrats, Sarah! You’re going to do a great job as a United States Marine! I have no doubt you’ve chosen the right career path.
Kick ass, and Semper Fi!