Wednesday, October 1, 2008

He's a Marine!

You know how you have all these hopes and dreams for your kids when they're babies? "I hope he'll be a lawyer, a doctor, the president!"

I'm not sure how many parents ever dream their kids will join the military, especially since we're at war, but my guess is most parents only pick military when they see all hope of anything else from their problem child.

My friend and neighbor Susanne has an 18 year old son named Keenan. OH, the dreams she had for him. She has pictures of him all over her house from all ages. She always has. He wasn't very athletic but he played baseball like the other kids. He was okay academically but rarely applied himself. He's always been cute. Girls were always after him. He's always had friends.
But, as the years went on he had more and more problems staying in school, keeping a job, paying his bills, avoiding tickets. He even moved out a couple times to live with friends because Susanne just couldn't take him anymore and the feeling was mutual.

His dad, who is now remarried, was barely ever in the picture, he himself is a financial and commitment mess. The dad, when around, was the FUN parent. You know how that works. Susanne is the disciplinarian since Keenan lived with her full-time, and the dad is the fun parent who only saw him on occasional weekends.

Before school ended last year Keenan was talking to us about what he might do with his life. For a long time he planned to be a mechanic. I mentioned how the mechanics I know are always filthy, their hands are thrashed from grease, they don't love what they do. His girlfriend's dad is a mechanic and she said they don't make very much money. I mentioned being a cop. "I hate cops, I'll NEVER be a cop". (he's been in some trouble...can you tell?). Okay, what about go to air conditioning school? I have a cousin who did that and he makes more money than his sister who has an MBA in Park Recreation. (is that surprising? probably not)
After our conversation I was telling Dina, Susanne's partner, how the best thing for him to do would be to go into the military. She agreed but neither of us mentioned that to Keenan at that time.

Well, not too long after that day Keenan talked to a Marines recruit and decided to join the marines. The obstacles were: 1. Keenan was only 17 so his parents would have to sign him over. 2. He needed to complete high school and get a diploma. 3. He needed to pass the physical.
Now, I never realized that once you've signed up, the recruit is responsible for making sure you do what you have to so you make it to boot camp. Susanne contacted the recruit many times for help with getting Keenan in school. The recruit was like having a new parent around because Keenan had to listen to him. But, believe it or not, he actually failed high school because he purposely stopped going at the end of the year and had to take classes in the summer to get his diploma.

Through the many weeks of boot camp Keenan would write letters saying how hard it is, how many guys had already quit, how he doesn't know if he'll make it to the end. At the end of each letter he'd write I'M GOING TO BE A MARINE. By the end of camp his letters were more positive and he was enjoying it more. Still, it was hella tough. Last week they had Crucible, which is the Marines final physical and mental test that lasts 48 hours. He passed!

Susanne and Dina left today for his graduation. I'm on dog/cat duty again for them. As of now he's not going into combat. Instead he's being trained for a vocation. S&D don't know which one yet.

On Oct 11th they're throwing him a huge party at their house to celebrate his graduation. He's only home for 10 days before he goes to a different fort to learn his vocation. Susanne is so VERY proud of her son. I'm really happy for Susanne. She stressed so much about him for years. She felt like a total failure as a parent. She'd say "I only had 1 child and I screwed him up". Now he's the responsibility of our US government who has already made a soldier out of him. Oh the possibilities!!!

This is him below at a San Diego Padres game recently. 2nd from the right. Ain't he cute?!


Kate said...

That is really neat! Great for him for accomplishing so much. I can only imagine the emotions that goes with riding that road, as a mother.

Twenty Four At Heart said...

That's a great accomplishment. He must feel a lot of pride, as he should. Your girls are beautiful by the way!