Saturday, February 20, 2010


My son recently had his 23rd birthday.

I remember my 23rd birthday. I was in the Army, in basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. On my birthday I was at the rifle range, qualifying with the M-16. I'm not sure if I had ammo detail that day or the day before, but I remember liking ammo detail, because it got me out of a forced march. Qualifying was a several step process. We had to be able to shoot a tight grouping of 3 shots or so into a paper target - I can't remember how far away it was, but it wasn't close. Those three shots had to fit within the space of a quarter or half dollar, I can't remember. Once you could do that, they figured you had the basics down, then you adjusted your sites so that you could hit the bulls eye. My intial grouping was off to the right and a little low, so I had to adjust my sights to move it up and to the left. Once I got to the point that I could consistantly hit the bulls eye with that tight grouping, then I was ready to qualify. I got though the process without too much difficulty and qualified as a sharpshooter, which was average. Some people struggled - they could not get that initial tight grouping, and by the end of the day they were getting a tremendous amount of grief from the drill sergeants.

I always wondered about the advisability of giving tremendous amounts of grief to people with a loaded (and fully automatic) weapon, but I assume they knew what they were doing.

Having a son brings back memories, it seems.

I called my son & talked to him for awhile on his birthday. Near the end of our conversation I told him not to do anything crazy. What I was really saying, though I doubt he knew it, was please don't do the things I did.

I got through my 20's without any kind of injury or jail time, and that was due to dumb luck more than any other single reason. I'm begining to think that's the case for the majority of men. Can't speak for women. But now my son is going thru that age and I worry. I've been a father for 23 years, I suppose I'll never get used to it.


Heather said...

Congrats on being a daddy for 23 yrs.

Yeah not a wise thing to do, yelling at a kid with a loaded weapon. Amazing nobody got shot! But then again, people had more respect, than they do now-a-days.

As a woman..I slid by my 20's just by pure luck. I could have (probably should have) gone to jail many times. Seems like the kids just don't get that we say things in hopes that they won't be exactly like us.

linlah said...

I've been a mom for 27 years and I haven't gotten used to it because they're still doing stuff that is a "first" for them.

j said...

I have been absent and am catching up -- happy belated birthday to your son. Mine is four and I feel like I have a lot to be nervous about in the future (and now, of course, but the teenage years loom large). My husband was a very good boy, so I'm hoping my son follows in his footsteps (and certainly not in mine).