Sunday, March 04, 2007

This Boy's Life

Brian did make it home for this weekend, after all. He has 4 days off, Saturday though Tuesday. We're so happy for every minute we get with him!

But guess what, I've had a bit of a conflict with him lately. A certain cell phone bill that's in my name hasn't been paid as promptly as I'd like it to be, and we need to figure something out for the upcoming months. Don't sweat the small stuff, I know, but it stands to be a huge expense over the next couple of years, if we don't freeze the account, which is also a possibility. At any rate, we need to get some things straightened out! I admit: I enlisted the help of his Dad: "hey, help me give the kid a nudge, will ya?"

Brian teased me last night, "Hey! Did you call "The Collection Agency" on me?!!"

I stood staring at him for a few minutes, and did the only thing I could do:

I mugged him. Yes, I ran over and got him in a headlock told him I'd have to show him who was boss. I wrestled him right off the couch, screaming a maternal battle-cry. His friends, fearful for their own lives, scattered and took cover. Brian pinned me fast enough though, and said "watch it! I'm a trained soldier! 3 seconds! I could kill you in 3 seconds!" I countered, "but you won't, you won't! You can't hurt a mom! I win, I win, I win!!!"

He admitted defeat, and I declared victory for Mom's worldwide.

I also decided Bush should bring home all of our sons, and send, instead, 30,000 pissed off mothers. We'd box any ears that need boxing, and no one would have the audacity to give us any lip. We'd march over there, demand that everyone play nice together. Anyone who doesn't will get sent to time out. For as long as it takes.

Ahhh, last minute jocularity.

I later asked Brian, "can you really kill someone in 3 seconds?" He told me, "yes." That, he has, himself, lost consciousness to this technique they were taught, in his hand-to-hand combat training. He said "I thought I was talking on my cell phone, and I came to, wondering where in the hell I was."

I know this isn't a game. My son is shipping out next week, and I'm still stunned that he's even a soldier. I don't know him as a soldier! I don't physically see him, as a soldier. When he's home, he's wearing Bob Marley t-shirts, and cutting up with his friends, and drinking Miller Lite. Except for the haircut, he's the same kid that left my house almost a year ago, heading to bootcamp. Isn't he?

He is, and he isn't. I'm surprised at how much I don't know about him, his life, any more. He's so damned strong now. And smart. He knows so much that I don't know. Stuff I can hardly imagine, or that I have a false idea of, in my mind. Part of that is that I know so little about the military in general. I've seen more Army bases on TV than I ever had in person. Last week I had Brian explain the hierarchy of regiments/battalions/companies/squads/platoons.

It's bizarre to me, to be so removed and understand so little about my own son's life. I will continue to ask him questions, hope for lots of letters, and learn through his photos and stories. A lot is explained to me by military veterans also, and I appreciate all the input I can get.

Here are a few pictures that Brian took at NTC, desert training at Fort Irwin, CA. They give me a bit more insight into his life.

He drives a tank. He got the tank-driving gig by chance: Another soldier went AWOL, and he filled the position.

Here's his view from the driver's seat:

This is Brian's friend, and as far as I'm concerned, "another one of my son's," Kyle Lathrop. He was here last week, when Brian was. Another smart kid, I enjoyed talking to him immensely. He's an artist also, and spent a few bucks on some good supplies at our local Art Coop. He worked on his drawings on the 12 hour ride back to GA on Monday.

Here he is holding a big honkin' machine gun.

Brian ran to duty without shaving one morning, and caught hell for it. In this picture, one of his buddies is helping him get the job done, from the confines of a tank. This photo was not staged; he really is getting a shave with a knife. In military lingo, that's "sharp honkin' knife."

A random view at dusk:

And a few of his buddies. Click to enlarge.

They're babies! Children! Our little boys.


They're men.


Our country's protectors.


I still like the idea of an Army of Pissed-Off Moms better.


  1. touching post (again). also, a belated happy birthday to brian! definitely keeping him and others like him in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. Some of my former students are over there right now. I still see them as the 9th grade student that I taught 7 years ago. I know they are prepared, but no one prepares the family and friends to help deal with the deployment.

    As far as the cell phone goes, I'd freeze that account right away, if it's in your name - it's your credit rating getting hurt. Just buy that son of yours a prepaid phone of whatever amount and then it's his responsibility to make sure it's paid up to date. The work kind of like a secured credit card, the credit limit will only go up to however much you have in your account. At his age he should start establishing a credit rating in his own name. So guess who has been watching Suze Orman lately!

  3. Si: Thanks, I'll forward your well wishes to Brian.

    Mary: Actually, the Army did call us and assign a "counselor" of sorts...or at least someone that will answer our questions and direct us. They actually called before Brian even got his deployment orders!

    And Lordy, lordy, nothing's happening that's hurting my credit rating; I WOULD have put a vulcan death grip on him if that were so. He reimburses me, but not always as promptly as I'd like. He's working on that credit rating too; we'll be happy when he gets his first major credit card; he'll be able to rent a car to get home from GA next time he's home.

    One of my dear friends used to be Suze Orman's roommate!

  4. As always, thanks for sharing.

    And a big thanks to your son for what he does.

  5. Kyle Lathrop, Brian's brother from another mother.

  6. Anonymous12:12 AM

    the phone won't work in iraq nor will any prepaid phone from here. he must cancel now or you will have a bummer on your hands. you better have power of attorney because he can't do anything about this kind of stuff from iraq. he will be able to purchase phone time over there(satellite phones)and wait in line for a half hour or more to call you. if he calls early AM (iraq time) on weekends the lines are shorter. iraq is 9 hours ahead of CU time.

  7. Anonymous12:18 AM

    Most car rental companies require a person to be 25. i believe a few are 21 but there is a hefty surcharge.

  8. I like the 'army of mothers' idea: the sound of 60,000 carpet slippers padding around the streets would strike the fear of God into anyone.

    Love to you both and enjoy the next couple of days together!

  9. I LOVE the last couple of posts. Not being a mother, I can only attempt to understand all the mixed emotions you must be feeling.

    I'm sure at times he's still that little cutie from the photo you posted from 1986. I think you're being very brave at his upcoming deployment.

    Did you say he's going to Kuwait? Just a personal comment here. If he will have direct dealings with Kuwaiti civilians, he'll be in for a treat. I've had loads in my training classes over the past couple of years, and I find them to be very, very interesting people...full of curiosity and laughter and fun and intelligence. They and the South Africans are my favorite students.

    So of all the places in the Middle East to go, Kuwait would be MY choice.



  10. I'm thinking an army of pissed off Moms would get the job done in no time at all.


  11. CB: Thank YOU; I'll forward your nice words.

    wil: I have dozens of sons from other mothers!

    Anon: Thanks so much for the info; I spoke to Brian about what you wrote. His POA was filled out thru the military last Friday. The phone is in my name, so freezing it won't be a problem.

    AnonII: Yes, we've discovered the "must be 25" rule, hence his father and I taking turns making the 12-hours each way drive to get him and friends home. We even tried to rent the cars ourselves and add him as a 2nd driver, but no-go!

    If we could get one car-rental Company to make a military exception, they'd make a killing !

    Sveny: yes, we'd have curlers in our hair, and carry rolling pins. I wonder if I can get my friends together for a photo shoot...

    Janet: Brian's going to "nowhere" right now. Another post, but there is currently nowhere to put the extra 21,000 soldiers that Bush is sending over. 3700 men will stay where there are accommodations for 345.

    Jazz: I'm sure Dubbya reads this blog! Thanks for giving him hell!

  12. I'm glad he got to come home again.

    You two are so funny together.

    I liked the photos he took, too. I was surprised that he was a tank driver. And since I'm a the Queen of Denial - I hope this new tank driver goes AWOL too.

    Though, I know he has a duty that he is going to fulfill. He told me that when I tried to talk him into going to Canada. He said: "Maybe after my military career is over."

    [darn it!!!!!]

  13. ::sigh:: an Army of Pissed off mom's would do this country some good...sign me up! If there are a few hispanics envolved we can beat them over the heads with our spoons or tree branches..that'll knock some sense into a few folk..

    As far as cellphone bills go, my ex-husband had his freezed (the account , not the phone) until he got back..and our loans didn't catch any interest either...

    Hugs to you and Brian..!!!

  14. Ah, crap.

    I hope he gets to keep the tank driving gig. If you have to be in a place where people want to shoot at you a tank is probably as good a place to be as any, especially since the "other side" doesn't have any tanks. Small arms fire and IEDs are the biggest dangers and a tank is pretty much immune from that type of thing. PLease send my birthday greetings along.
    Those pictures are amazing and frightening. Hang in there kid. You are much loved.

  15. I hope I have half the relationship with my kids that you have with yours....your relationship is beautiful...the fact that you can wrestle with him at his age is a true testiment!!! Thank you!

  16. Love this - especially the idea of the moms. We'd handle it, wouldn't we?

    Crazy he can drive a tank but he cannot rent a car to come home to visit. Harumph.

  17. I have always thought that a plattoon of mothers and grandmothers would be Far More effective than any fighting force. March right up and say "Does your mother know what you're doing?????" War as we know it would come to a screeching halt.

  18. Great Post and God Bless to you, your Son and all the soldiers that protect us! They are Our True Heroes !

    Yes we can end this quick if we send over 30,000 pissed off Mom's!!


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