Do you remember that show from the 1960s called Gomer Pyle? It was about the mis-adventures of a young man in the Army, and his favorite exclamation for anything that was surprising, or shocking, or just out of the ordinary and unexpected was “Shazaam!” But he pronounced it sha-zayum because he was from North Carolina, where people are even more hick than they are here in Northwest Arkansas. That might be an sweeping generalization.
Today is the day that my baby daughter goes off to basic training for her career (at least for the next six years or so) in the U.S. Army. She hasn’t decided if she’ll go regular or reserve or National Guard, and won’t have to make that choice until she’s about to graduate from college. And I have been assured by several people in uniform that she WILL get to graduate from college before she is sent off anywhere with a loaded weapon. I won’t say I was hard to convince, but I will share that her recruiter told her that the meeting with me “Wasn’t as bad as [he'd} expected." Yeah, I'm that mom.
But I'm that mom because she's this baby...
But those adorable babies grow up to have their own babies while still in high school... or they join the Army. I'm still waiting to see what level of Dante's hell the Boychild will put me through as a teen. Lord help me.
Today we are driving the sweet baby daughter to Little Rock for her intake requirements at the MEPS center. Now, I joined the Army Reserves when I was younger too... but I was 24. I was already way past cute. My mother isn't here to argue, so I'll just state that as fact. One day I will have to go back and read her journals around that time and find out what she thought about all that... I made the decision and signed up without discussing it with her first. Yeah, I was that kid.
Side note: Given all that I and my siblings put mom through here on earth (not to mention 11 months of cancer treatment) I'm sure she's somewhere unbelievably posh in the afterlife.
At least the Army is putting the baby girl up in a nice hotel (The Peabody!), before they ship her off to North Carolina for six months of 4 a.m. roll calls and 10 minute meals and snot fests at the gas chambers and communal showers. Good times.
So, here are the images I'll be keeping in my head today. I know they won't be there for long, and I'll have to accept that the baby girl has grown up. But today - TODAY, this is what I see.