Tuesday, November 6, 2012

236 Years of Service

I know, I’ve been quiet. It’s not you, it’s me. Really. It seems like a lot has gone on, but really, I have no great excuses. Turbo finished soccer last week, Lunchbox turned two on the 4th, and we attended the Marine Corps Ball this weekend (which even entailed a night away from home in a hotel room without kids! Yay!)

There’s a lot I could write about in all that, but I thought I’d spend a little time on the Ball. We go most years if we can… but I remember the first time I went about 8 years ago. As a new spouse, the entire thing was brand spankin’ new to me. I didn’t know the first thing about the Marine Corps or the Birthday Ball. So here’s what I didn’t know…

The Marine Corps was founded on November 10, 1775, making this November 10th the 236th birthday of the Corps.

The first year that I attended the Ball with the Major (then a Captain…), I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that there’d be a bar, and that I got to get my hairs did and wear a fancy dress. And that was seriously it. I didn’t expect to be moved or touched, and I didn’t know that I’d come away with a whole new perspective on my husband.

The Ball is full of pomp and circumstance. There is a sword procession, the presentation of the colors, and a formal cutting of the birthday cake — which is my favorite part. One piece is offered to the oldest Marine present, and another to the youngest, marking the continuity of the Corps — respect for those who have given years and have much to teach, and also for the youthful vigor embodied by the newest members. There is always a table set for one up at the front of the room — that represents all of the Marines who cannot share the birthday festivities with us or with their loved ones. There is usually a band — in our case last night it was the USNA band and they were really excellent. There’s some marching, lots of standing at attention, and a good deal of speaking. The Ball was the first time I’d seen my husband stand at attention. It was the first time I’d seen him wear his medals, and it was the first time I’d recognized these silly guys that he hangs out with as anything more than overgrown frat boys with F-18s. When called upon to do so, they all became rigid, serious… reverent. And I realized that when called upon, they would also all become heroes, if needed. They would protect one another and perform the duties assigned to them with the same stoic resolve I saw on all of their faces when the national anthem and the Marine Corps Hymn were played.

There is always a message presented from the Commandant of the Marine Corps. This year’s message reflected on the fact that 2011 is the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and illustrated the roles that Marines played in those events. Here is the message:


I got teary watching this — I lived in NYC during 9/11, and like most from my generation, this will forever be a turning point in my life — an end to innocence. I knew people involved very directly, though was lucky enough not to know anyone personally who lost their life. Still, many close to me were scarred by the events of that day and the images will never leave my mind. And mixing those memories with my appreciation for the sacrifice that Marines make — are making –  every day, was a lot to process. Mix it with a few glasses of wine, and poof! There goes my mascara.

It was a good time, but I try to remember what the Ball means as well, and what it means in my husband’s life. He’s a humble guy, and he would be the last person to call himself a hero, but when I see him in his dress blues, medals on his chest, standing at attention… I feel so proud of my Major. And he will always be a hero to me (and to two little guys I know!)

Semper fidelis.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Incident Report



You smell delicious -- is that baby powder you're wearing?

If your kids are in daycare, you know the dread you feel when their peppy teacher, Miss Whatshername, catches you when you arrive at the end of the day with clipboard and pen in hand. “Oh, hello Callsign Mommy. We had a little incident here today, just need a quick signature.” The Incident Report details for you either how your kid has been an a** to some other little person, or how another little person has done something less-than-friendly to your kid. I don’t get many of these for Turbo these days (thank goodness, because he was showing signs of being the class bully when he was about 2.) No, now we get them for Lunchbox. And I’m not kidding when I tell you that we get them pretty much EVERY. DAY.

I could actually use a bit of help here… when the first few were presented, my heart jumped just a bit as I felt the guilt that comes with thinking that your perfect little angel did something awful to another child. And once in a while, Lunchbox does clobber someone. Usually he bites them. Turns out this is going around in his class. I have signed an incident report almost every day for the last month, because ANOTHER KID in Lunchbox’s class has bitten him. My poor tiny guy has come home with visible teeth marks on his arms constantly. It’s at the point now where I ask when I walk in, “incident report?” And the answer has become a sheepish, “Yes, here you go.”

About two weeks ago I asked if the bites were always coming from the same kid. The answer was yes. A week later I asked in a less friendly manner, as I returned yet another signed form and looked over the new bite on my kid’s shoulder, what was being done about this little vampire’s proclivity for toddler flesh. They told me that they’re shadowing the tiny cannibal and that it’s been effective. Except that I still get an incident report every day. I asked if Hannibal Lecter is biting anyone else, or if Lunchbox just has a bad habit of being in the line of fire. Evidently, many parents are being presented with these forms each day.

Once or twice is not a big deal. Lunchbox has dabbled in the world of peer chomping himself. But every day for a month is a bit excessive. I am struggling with some guilt here because I know that if the daycare informed me that one of my guys could not attend anymore because of a behavior issue, I’d be mortified and completely screwed. This daycare was the ONE here that had a schedule that worked for us that we could actually afford (and bonus! is a Montessori program, which I’m a fan of for preschool). I would have to scramble to find something else, end up driving to yet another out of the way destination before getting to work at 7:30am, and probably end up paying more. And I hate the thought of throwing another parent into that turmoil. It’s hard enough just being a parent. And I’m sure that the parents of little Dracula are mortified enough (they have to sign an incident report each time their kid bites someone, so they must be getting three and four a day!)

I was told on my last inquiry that this child was about to turn 2 and would therefore be moving up to the next class. We didn’t get any reports last week, so maybe the werewolf had his birthday. But guess who else has a birthday coming up and will be moving? Maybe if I wrapped Lunchboxes arms in a protective layer of eggo waffle… or bacon… but that might just invite more nibbles. What if I coat him in Tobasco? That oughta keep Toothy away, huh? Wonder if that burns the skin… Ideas?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Spouse Event



"Sara, look at her shoes! They're gorgeous. Bitch."

So tonight I’m going to my first spouse event here at our new base. This is kind of a weird situation because normally the Major is part of a squadron, so there is an automatic wive’s (spouse’s, sorry) club that has regular meetings and social events. Additionally, when we’ve first checked in before, I’ve been contacted right away by the CO’s wife, welcomed, offered babysitters and shopping tips. Here, not so much. But that isn’t anyone’s fault – it’s because the Major is working more of an administrative position. It also has to do with his being one of only about 200 Marines on a Navy base. There’s no squadron to “take care of us” and there just aren’t that many other Marine spouses around. But the Marine Aviation Detachment is trying to take up the slack, which is nice.

I’ve never been a huge joiner when it comes to spouse events. I guess part of me thinks that it’s silly that we’d all be friends just because our husbands work together. At least if WE worked together we’d know that we had similar backgrounds or interests, maybe, but the spouse groups are often quite the hodgepodge of people from every corner of everywhere. And I’m all for a diverse group of friends. And I don’t like stereotypes in general. But to me, throwing together a group of women becuase of who they’re married to is kind of like assuming that two gay guys will be a perfect couple because, well, they’re both gay. That being said, I have also always found a small subset of these women with whom I’ve gotten along great and forged good lasting friendships. And I’ve made other friends who are great to know while we’re at whatever base we’re at, but those are often the types of friendships that  you sort of know won’t last when one of you moves on. And those are nice to have, too.

And it wouldn’t be a wives’ club post if I didn’t mention the “knives club” aspect of these groups. As in any gathering of women, there are often a few who prefer backbiting and gossip to actual friendship and see these groups as an ideal setting for making snap judgements, saying nasty things and excluding people when possible. I haven’t run into a lot of this myself — aside from a few cases when attendance at such events was disputed due to being a ‘fiance’ rather than a spouse; or once when someone’s hubby deployed for a non-squadron billet and some ladies said that the wife left behind was not actually a squadron spouse anymore and should not be coming to events (nor should she receive any support from all of us despite the fact that she was left at home without her hubby, caring for the house and family… cuz that’s not hard.) And there are always a few wives who believe that they have somehow earned their husband’s rank and should be treated accordingly…that’s pretty fun. ANYWAY, crappy things do happen, but generally these organizations are a good source of support. And I have to say that even if you don’t really bond with anyone, even the nastiest of biddies will tend to rally around another spouse when they are truly needed. I didn’t cook my own meals for months after having my kids… that alone was worth more to me than I can ever express.

So I go tonight not knowing anyone. Actually, that’s not true. I know (and like!) one other Marine spouse here, but I don’t know if she’ll be there. Maybe I’ll actually make a new friend. Friends are nice. Wish me luck not being shy and also not being an asshole. Sometimes I struggle with both.