This past Monday was “R” Day at West Point. Also known as reception day, the new cadets are “welcomed” into West Point for their four year journey into adulthood. This year’s R Day hit Stan hard. Three of his friends’ kids are new cadets at West Point. Stan has told me he can’t get the thoughts of R Day out of his head.
I think this year it’s hitting him hard because his friends’ kids are there. It’s kind of a wake up call. We are now old enough to have kids who are old enough to be going off to college. It’s disconcerting feeling to think we only have three years left before Zach could be counted among the new cadets at West Point. Three years is not that long and the reality of three short years is smacking Stan around.
This morning, Stan started reminiscing about his own time at West Point…I’m not sure if reminiscing is the right word but maybe it is. He was looking back and telling stories of times long gone by. Stan is wondering what the new cadets are doing right now. He’s wondering, too, about the effects of a “kinder, gentler” West Point. Stan’s thoughts wander to what it would be like to be there now, as opposed to when he was there. The kids who are there now are enjoying an education in a top notch facility filled with some of the best of the best ~ some of the best facilities we have to offer, some of the best minds our country has produced, all going to educate these young men and women who will lead, not only one of the best equipped and trained militaries in the world but who will also go on to be leaders in other ways as well. These kids can focus on their studies now, with the kinder/gentler model of education at West Point. When Stan went was there he also “enjoyed” the many benefits the academy has to offer but there was no kinder and gentler.
Stan thinks the effects of kinder and gentler might produce better leaders when these new cadets leave the academy and go on to fulfill their roles in the military and in life. The new cadets can focus on their studies rather than ways to escape the wrath of the upperclass cadets. It makes sense to me. I never understood how belittlement works to anyone’s advantage. I understand how mentoring, teaching and coaching can produce top notch leaders and I think West Point may have embraced the concept of mentoring over belittling, at least that is my/our hope as Zach is serious about pursuing an appointment to the academy. The thoughts of Stan’s torturous beginning at West Point is something I, as Zach’s mama, don’t want him to have to go through ~ although it made Stan one helluva guy.
Stan was brought back in time, yet again, this morning as we watched the new cadets on Youtube today as they took their first P.T. test. This has been a fun week, walking down Stan’s memory lane as he ponders thoughts of Zach following in his footsteps.
My own feelings are conflicted ~ pride versus fear; excitement for Zach’s future versus my sadness about time slipping away so quickly. My list of feelings could go on forever but I will stop with those two. I will deal with my feelings in the future, if and when the time comes for Zach to experience his own R Day.
Oh, for the love of my children…