Well, yesterday we packed up The Boy and took him to his new school. The whole thing looks like such a great idea, except for the part where this place is 200 miles away. Whose idea was that? Oh, right. Initially, it was mine.
He has always wanted to be a Marine, ever since at age 4 he announced he wanted to be a "soldier guy" when he grew up. I thought he'd outgrow it.
He chose his high school based on their JROTC program, and loved everything they did. He joined the Civil Air Patrol. Last Spring Break we visited my parents in DC, and took him to tour the Naval Academy in Annapolis. He nearly lost his mind over it.
How did two pacifists wind up with this kid?
Last year, he suddenly felt that he didn't need to do homework. It was a year of endless battles. At one point, I threatened to send him to military school, where they'd make him do his homework and everything else.
I forgot that the kid lives to call my bluff. So off I go to the Internet, looking for military schools. There was one I recalled form my youth in DC, but I've learned that it's changed it's military-prep curriculum. Others I looked for, traditional names I knew from years ago - a pacifist I may be, but I grew up in the Navy and dated plenty of military guys. I grew up in DC - who else was there to date? Politicos? Ew. DC locals don't hobnob with out-of-towners. (Don't think about it too hard; it doesn't make anymore sense than the hot air factory on the Hill does.)
Where was I? Oh. Schools. A lot of the old ones closed. Or they changed their focus to "providing a disciplined environment for troubled youth".
Skiving off on homework doesn't equate to troubled youth to me. Not sending him there.
Then I found that the Army Corps of Cadets is opening a school outside Lexington, Ky. They bought an old military academy that closed at the turn of this century, to use it for their summer programs. And then they said "Well, we have a school. Why not run one?"
I showed the website to The Boy. He didn't like it. "Well, kiddo" I said. "Bring your grades up and I won't mention it again".
It worked for a couple of weeks.
The final report card came and after I came back down out of the ozone, I made an appointment to go look at this place. My Beloved went because he loves me. He didn't want to send our Boy away anymore than I did. Do. The Boy sulked all the way there. But I felt like I had to show him that I meant it. He wanted a career as a Marine officer? Then he's got to put in the work. Not only would the Marines accept no less, his parents won't. I will do what it takes to help him reach his goals, even threaten to send him to a boarding school.
Well, we got there in these various moods. And then we all loved it.
I didn't expect that.
They are seriously committed to making a strong military academy prep curriculum. They run it as a (younger) replica of how the academies run, right down to how the dorms are set up. Teacher:student ratio, 1:8.
Half the recruited faculty have PhD's. For a high school?
As much as possible, they will be bookless. Each cadet will have a tablet, with both e-texts and Odysseyware.
He saw the Airsoft guns and uniforms and fell in love. (Did you all know that Airsoft has a division that makes replicas of military weapons? Accurate enough for target practice? I still haven't made up my mind how I feel about that.)
This is the inaugural year. Total of 30 students, 6 in his sophomore class.
So we talked about it. A lot. We talked to his JROTC teachers. We talked to his developmental psychologist who's been working with him since he was diagnosed with the ADHD in second grade. We talked to his Neurologist. We showed them the school's documentation. The consensus was that this would be a Good Thing.
So off we went, driving though some of the prettiest parts of Kentucky. We met teachers, administrators and the Commandant. They took away his cell phone and electronics and told him he could have them back after New Cadet Training (boot camp). Parents are invited for the ceremony and Parents' Weekend on Sept 15.
So we hugged our Boy hard and got in the car and drove home. And we didn't let him see us cry.
And I miss my Boy.
And oh, I hope this is a good thing.
At least you'll get to hear from her. He's allowed one 3-minute phone call a week until basic training is over in 2 weeks.
Today's 3-minute call was fully traumatic.
"I changed my mind. I wanna come home! Come get me!"
We told him he has to hang in there. And I've been crying all day.