T-6 days until I drop daughter number three off at West Point. I keep looking at her when she thinks I’m not looking trying to memorize her face, the casual way she relaxes on our couch, her infectious laugh as she watches a funny Vine video on her phone.
We try not to talk about what lies ahead for her and just enjoy our last precious days together. Her summer will be vastly different than her peers or that of any summer she has ever experienced before. Grueling road marches in the blazing sun, endless push ups, and older cadets screaming in her face, yelling at her for every misstep will become her new normal.
Our farewell will last exactly 90 seconds at 6:30 am on July 2. We’ve been told that 80% of new cadets want to quit on the first day. That number drops to 50% on day two and by day three most have acclimated to the new routine, the heat, the yelling and the physical strains of basic training.
Bethany will be allowed to call us one time for ten minutes on July 20 sometime between 12 and 4:30. My family will be on vacation on this day, so you can bet I’ll be locking myself away somewhere quiet so I don’t miss her call! This day for the cadets is called “The Ice Cream Social.” Cadets are dispersed amongst West Point families who live on post and offer to take them in for a few hours. During this time they are fed lots of junk food, given access to a cell phone, and can just relax. It’s a nice break from the constant stress of Beast Barracks.
West Point cadets can receive mail and I’ve promised to write everyday. Mail day is the highlight of the week for cadets. This rolls around once every four days or so for them. We’ve been told to number our letters since they receive their mail in bulk. We’ve also been advised to not slip anything inside the letter…even a stick of gum…as this is prohibited. Older cadets often open the letters first and take out anything good for themselves. Awesome.
On August 16, Bethany will become an official cadet, moving up from “new cadet.” This is known as A Day at West Point where cadets are accepted into the Corps of Cadets. We will be allowed to spend the weekend with her! I look forward to hearing about her experiences and seeing the changes that I know will have taken place after this demanding summer of physical and mental growth.
I know Bethy is a little nervous about how she will manage Beast Barracks at first. Who wouldn’t be? She knows she is mentally strong enough (SO true), but is at times concerned that she can keep up with the physical demands. This is a legitimate concern, but I have confidence that she’ll do fine. So much of physical endurance challenges is telling yourself you can do it and Bethany has a very strong desire to succeed. Additionally, she’s been working with a trainer and running so I think she’s better off than she gives herself credit for.
So, I’m going to settle in for the last six days here of enjoying my time with Bethany. Right now she’s watching The Bachelorette on TV. I’m watching her watch The Bachelorette…nothing could be more beautiful.
Slide Show of R Day at West Point:
R Day is Reception Day…The first day of Beast Barracks, the day new cadets arrive.