Monthly Archives: July 2013

Journaling Then and Now

While Quinn has been enduring Cadet Basic Training for the past five weeks, he’s shared with us the pages of his journal. We receive an update about once a week. We treasure all the details of his new life as a “soldier scholar.”

I’ve kept journals sporadically all my life. I wish I’d been more faithful to writing them. It’d be fun to look back at them now that my memory is fading little by little.

Both Anna and Hattie have kept wonderful travel journals starting when they were nine and seven and we took our first home exchange. The summer after that trip, we read theirs and mine at dinner every night to recreate the trip and prompt discussion of memories.

Lane and Quinn keep prayer journals and have for years.

Quinn has kept a journal since he was five years old. He started with a journal from Disney World.
We’d given them ten dollars to spend any way they wanted. During a shopping excursions, Quinn approached me with a notebook. The cover was as cool as a notebook could be with Winnie the Pooh’s face embedded in soft, gold fur on the front. Solid fur on the back. Beautiful.

I flipped it over and admired it but gasped when I spied the price tag. Nine dollars. Pretty much his entire spending money.

“Quinn,” I said, “This is a nice notebook, but we can get one for about fifty cents at home, and you can buy something else.”

“No. I want to keep a journal in it, and I want to start today.”

How could my English teacher/sporadic writer self refuse that argument?

He bought the book and started writing that night. “Day 1. The worst day of the week. It rained and rain.(sic)

His only stipulation to writing was his entry was something different each day. “Day 36. Today I lost a tooth at school!” My journal entry might have read, “Thank Goodness I didn’t have to pull it out.”

“Day 93. Today I got a duck!” This duck business happened because I was experiencing moving guilt and hoping the ducks—one for each child—would somehow help the transition.

He was faithful to keeping a journal for one thousand days. That day fell on Christmas Day 2004. After the Christmas presents had been explored, the breakfast casserole eaten, we gave Quinn a special gift for completing such a tremendous feat, a box set of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.

Today his entries are different. “Today I qualified as a sharp shooter, making 33 out of 40 targets.” That’s with an M16.

“We stood in formation at parade rest for 2 1/2 hours waiting for a urine test.”

“Today we got to sleep late to 5:15. Yay sleep!!!”

The entries are quite different, but I am thankful for them. They’re precious and give us insight to what he’s experiencing.

Thank Goodness for that Winnie the Pooh journal that started him on a journaling life.


Fourth of July Thoughts

July 4th. Three days since we left Quinn at West Point sporting his first, free haircut. I’ve shed a few tears, yes, but I think I’ve done pretty well.

I’ve left children at college before. I’ve felt the pull of the heart. I’ve experienced the unsettling feeling that our box set has been broken, not worth quite as much as the original. I know this idea isn’t true. It’s the melodramatic musing of a mother who is learning about new family dynamics. But still.

Leaving a child at West Point (or any of the service academies) isn’t the same as leaving a child at college. The leaders of these New Cadets who are experiencing Basic Training (or Beast) right now are busy changing these young men and women from civilians to military people–military people who will serve in the military after graduation, not start climbing the corporate ladder at a Fortune 500 Company.

Yes, I’ve managed to hold back most of my tears, but today was a weepy kind of morning. Maybe my tears surfaced because of the patriotic posts that popped on my Facebook feed. Maybe it was the saber-like pain in my right shoulder that my chiropractor attributes to stress from last weekend. (You think?) Or maybe it was the fact that I had written exactly one word on my way towards my 1500-word goal for today.

Whatever the reason, this morning was just a touch soggy in my office. That’s okay. I remind myself that Quinn is where he wants to be, that we’ve prayed all over his future (along with his siblings), that I’m proud that he loves his country and wants to serve like the veterans he admires.

It’s good. It’s good. It’s good.

Happy 4th of July!