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People told me once my son left for boot camp I’d get a one or two sentence letter if I was lucky. Not from my son. He has been sending letters every day or two, filling the front and back of each page. He has always been better at long distance communication than chatting at home. Now I get a glimpse at a whole different world. Here are some things I’ve learned.

Despite the tough environment, boys act like boys. The ones that goof off at school- shutting their friends in a locker will do the same in the army. The only difference is that everyone gets in trouble if the drill sergeant finds out. This drives my very grown up son nuts.

MRE’s taste better than the food at the cafeteria. My son loves MRE’s. At first I thought he was joking, but he was completely serious! He also eats more, and healthier than he has ever eaten before. While he likes the change for the most part, he craves his favorite candies and foods in a way that I thought only possible in another country. Of course, boot camp might as well be another country.

My independent son wanted nothing more than letters. We didn’t get an address for three weeks, and then it took another week and a half for our letter to get to him. The sadness of not getting any letters for so long almost broke my heart. We have learned that letters only go out once a week so we get a slew of letters at a time. By the time we ask a question, he gets the letter, and responds, a full three weeks has passed despite the fact that he’s only 3 states away. Might be why the post office is struggling. It is agonizingly slow in our fast paced world.

I have learned that my son is an excellent shot with his rifle, loves the runs and tromping in the woods, but struggles with the push-ups. He gets annoyed that men around him act like little boys, needs his quiet time, and enjoys being a leader. He is a charming writer, and his letters are a gift I will cherish always. While the letters are slow, they are rich in information, and tangible so that the experience he is having is captured forever, his own shared journal. I worried about not being involved in this transition from boy to man, I feel now that I’m more involved than if he’d been living at home.