Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Young Carlton, my oldest so who is currently in the Marines and stationed in beautiful San Diego, California is all over the damn map. He informed me this past weekend that he wants to marry his girlfriend when he comes home, which will be in three to four months. My son will be 19 in August and his girlfriend is 17 and still in high school.
He informed me of this minor miracle via text message and I immediately asked him to call me. I had to be very delicate with the situation because I did not want to alienate him simply because I vehemently disagree with this premature decision. But at the same time, I was not going to talk to him like everything was rosy either. He called me, I asked him if she was pregnant and he said no, then I asked him why he wanted to marry her now and his response after a long pause was, "She's stuck with me through all of this." In case you're wondering what "all of this" is, it is her ability to "endure" the 6-7 months Carlton has been at bootcamp and two assignments and in the Marines--that is hardly a feat of strength.
I didn't discourage him, but I did tell him that he needed to make and spend his own money, develop some personal preferences and do a bit of self-exploration before marriage (aka see how many women he could safely have sex with while donning that Marine uniform). He's basically gone from high school to the military (after turning down college) which means he has been insulated from the evils (and pleasures) of the real world. And now he wants to marry someone more sheltered and naive than he is? Not good. He said he felt strongly about the marriage, and I said I would support him, but I think he's making a huge mistake. We agreed to disagree but I suspect some time between today and when he comes home this whole marriage thing will lose steam because....
Yesterday Carlton texted (didn't call) and told me that he didn't know about "this". I once again asked him to call me and I found out "this" was the Marines. He is bored with his current assignment which involves lots of menial tasks and waiting--none of the excitement he thought he was going to immediately get into. I explained to him that he was more than welcome to quit the Marines, but he needed a plan, considering he'd have no money, no job, nowhere to live unless his grandparents (and not on my side) took him, and all he would have is a girlfriend, who would eventually leave his ass. Then I explained to him that every job has slow periods in the beginning and the military is no different. He's getting paid, he has free room and board, he's going to start working towards his degree soon, and surely he can endure a little inconvenience. He kept complaining, and I just kept explaining the consequences and the realities of quitting. We got off the phone and I still don't know what he's going to do, but I'm going to be mildly relentless with him.
I begged him not to go the military last Spring and I strongly urged him to attend Virginia Commonwealth University where he got accepted. He calmly told me that the military is what he wanted to do, and before the VCU registration/housing deadline I asked him was he sure and he said "hell yes". From that moment on I shut up about college, and I made sure he talked to people, family members and friends who were either in the military or recently retired. He was buoyed by those conversations and he basically doubled down on wanting to go. So now, about 8 months later, when I hear this quitting b.s., I shut it down. I won't disown him if he quits, but I won't give him a dime of money--only support and pep talks. It will hurt me to do that, and it feels a touch unfair, but if those lessons aren't learned early, adulthood will be a bitch.
That being said if he quits and has a plan to get back on his feet, I will support it 100%--if he stays single. My father supported me financially in college, until my girlfiend--who I made the ill-advised decision to live with--left me abruptly. My dad said, "I told you not to do that", and he said I had to figure my own way out of it. I was student-teaching, working and barely making ends meet for 3 months but I did it and I graduated. I never asked my dad for money again, and I'm glad he taught me that lesson, but that's me talking 20 years later. While I was going through, it was an everyday struggle to a)make ends meet b) stay sane c) focus on school work and d) get laid. All four things were important to 21 year old me. Carlton may have to learn similar lessons...but again, I hope to God he powers through and sticks this out.