For those of you raising eyebrows at the title of the post, rest assured that I’ve not started selling Kirbys on my blog nor have I switched to a more ‘adult’ format.

The post’s title comes from advice given to my son by a military friend upon learning my son had enlisted. His advice was to understand Basic Training (BT) would suck and the best way to survive was to “Embrace the Suck!”

It seems good advice for life as well as for BT. While life in general doesn’t suck as badly as BT in particular, some parts are pretty sucky! Remembering even the sucky parts are part of the process can help one survive when things seem darkest.

I’m happy to report our son is, indeed, still living although we’ve not spoken to him since about 20:30 on Monday. Today’s mail brought a post card indicating homesickness is part of the suck. Don’t get me wrong, the boy’s been away from home before. He spent a summer in Brazil a few years ago on a missions trip. I’m thinking he’s realized he’s volunteered to be away from the family for YEARS and the enormity of that is setting in.

Also part of the suck will be PT. But it’s a good thing for 19 year old, testosterone enhanced males to be running and doing push-ups and pull-ups and any other “ups” sadistic Drill Instructors (DI) can imagine. Not only does it get them in shape but it makes them easier to shape as well. Not to mention it allows them to sleep well at night. Personally, I’ve always appreciated the narcoleptic quality of exhaustion.

Another element of the suck will be my son’s inevitable disappointment that the stories he was told, not only about BT, but also about his particular BT location, will prove false. He’s doing BT at Fort Jackson in South Carolina and he assured me it would be OK because all the guys in the know referred to that particular Fort as “Relaxin’ Jackson”. I suspect that notion fell by the wayside in the first couple of days. Note to any DIs reading this: MY son never said that. Other men’s sons did and my son merely repeated it in the hope it might be true. Make those other boys run until they puke!

Fort Jackson has a nifty website for parents and friends of soldiers “relaxing” there. It’s got all sorts of information on what to expect. There’s even a breakdown of the 9 week BT cycle. Thus, #1 Son is now in Reception. It sounds so nice – Reception – maybe a latte and some nice music, perhaps. The website says

Basic training begins with in processing at the 120th Adjutant General Battalion (Reception). For most Soldiers, in processing is brief, from 4 to 10 days. Here Soldiers receive a general orientation, get fitted and issued Army uniforms, establish personnel records, obtain an identification card, receive visual,dental physical examinations, test for physical fitness, and receive immunizations. Soldiers also begin learning the Army core values and basic military skills during this phase. From the Reception Battalion soldiers are “shipped” to a basic training unit on Fort Jackson.

Riiiight – this is the Army! A few codewords exist in that description to assist in visualizing the suck to be embraced in Reception. Among them are “processing” (like Beef?), “dental exams”, “physical fitness test”, and “immunizations”. Reception … yeah!

As soon as I hear from the boy himself, I’ll let you know how it really is. But for now, I’ll leave you with some other parts of BT to be covered in ‘Embrace the Suck’ updates over the next couple of months. Basic First Aid and an introduction to the military justice system – yummy! I wonder if you get to volunteer for these or are you assigned to hurt yourself and get in trouble? Chemical Warfare training, the Gas Chamber and Bayonet Training and, of course, more PT. That would seem pretty self explanatory. Then there’s some more PT, road marches, a confidence course (who names these things, I wonder) along with some interesting sounding night time activities.

Meantime, there’s a roster update. I’m officially changing the designation of my oldest male child from “#1 Son” (I’m sure you all remember Charlie Chan, right) to ‘The BWBB’ which stands for “Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy” in honor of both his love for music and his service to our country. While his MOS has nothing to do with music, it’s my blog and he’s my son so I can call him whatever I like. Besides, I’ve loved Bette Midler’s rendition of the Andrews Sisters’ classic since I first heard her album (not CD, a-l-b-u-m) ‘The Divine Miss M’ around 35 years ago.

Thinking it’s going to be a LONG 9 weeks for all of us embracing the suck …

Blue Collar Muse