I received a 3-page letter this time. 3 pages, albeit small ones. Other than a required paper for college, I'm sure that's the most my son has ever written in one sitting. I know that as of the first two weeks he was in, I had already received more letters from him than I had in the preceding almost-21 years.
You may not be surprised to learn, however, that this is a young man who can also write about 10,000 text messages a month. Thank goodness for unlimited texting on our cell plan! If you average around 8 words per text, that's 80,000 words - enough to edit into a good novel. I'm sure he's not unique in his generation.
There is a bit of irony there in that my son is truly an amazing writer and poet. I occasionally run across a poem he has jotted down somewhere, and I'm continually impressed with the depth of feeling that comes across in so few words.
In the letter, he let his little brother know that everything about claymores in the video game Call of Duty is a lie since he's already gotten to blow one. He also said that they "Hollywooded the crap" out of the movie The Hurt Locker since EOD doesn't do much any of that. Maybe what that really means to us is that once he gets to come home and tell his little brother what isn't accurate about it, he will then spend less time playing video war games. And maybe he'll go see more movies where they don't blow things up. Nah, who am I kidding? He's still a guy.
He's learning new lingo, which means we are too. I thought my brain had already processed enough alphabet soup, but now we're going to have to remember that LBE is load-bearing equipment, IBA is individual body armor, and that him having his own M-4 is not really something I had always hoped he'd put on his wish list. He also mentioned his platoon was going to the gas chamber since they got their gas masks as well. That's enough to make some of his ancestors cringe, I'm sure. I already knew the IED/UXO/EOD stuff from my work over the past several years, but it doesn't thrill me that it has now become part of my son's lexicon.
He has a tremendous sense of humor, "necessary to survive this place" he says, and so does his DS. I can tell I'm going to have to hold on to mine pretty tightly.
He's also learning something about himself that I've always known. He has an incredible sense of integrity, loyalty and discipline that not everyone possesses. That will help him stand apart from those who don't get it, and will make him stand strong with his fellow soldiers that do. I sound like a commercial.
That's still my baby.
I wish our politicians had a clue as to what this is like for the families.