Monday, June 6, 2016

On the cusp of adulthood: Registering my son for Selective Service

On the cusp of adulthood: Registering my son for Selective Service

With my son on the cusp of legal adulthood, I’ve been looking back at how far we’ve come together. It seems like just yesterday that this young man was an itty bitty baby in my arms and I was a first time mom.

That little 7lb 6oz, 19.5 inch bundle of little boy is now a 125lb, 5’ 9” young man.

How did that happen?

It seems amazing that we both made it to this point! So much of the time I felt like I was still a kid myself, raising a child--and I was 24 when he was born.

We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, and I am sure there will be many more.

I used to worry constantly about his food allergies, colic, and his vision. Then, I worried constantly about how he was faring at school (he went to public school from pre-K until halfway through 4th grade) and if we were doing enough when we switched to homeschooling. And, as he has gotten into his teen years, I have worried when leaving him home alone, when he goes out with friends, when I send him to do errands.

And now. . .

He’s about to be an adult. As I write this, my son is 2 months and 1 day away from his 18th birthday. He is about to register to vote, start college classes, get his first formal job, and he is learning to drive.

I have been feeling nostalgic about the past, but also looking forward to my son’s future when a radio commercial added a whole new level of worry.

My son has to register for the Selective Service. You know, the draft.

According to the Selective Service website, he has to register within 30 days of his 18th birthday (within 30 days before or up to 29 days after).

I was so excited for my son’s first election participation to be a presidential election, as mine was, until I heard the radio commercial. The commercial started out talking about registering to vote and ended with registering for the Selective Service.

I went from excited to deflated and freaked out in a matter of seconds. I mean, what comes to mind when you think of the draft?

For me, it’s young men carrying rifles through the jungle and the worst possible military hospital scenes from the TV show M.A.S.H. It also brings to mind the few stories my dad has shared from his experiences in Vietnam--my dad was drafted and you can still see the anxiety and mental anguish on his face decades later.

Many young men that went to Vietnam with my dad did not return.

Now, think about all of that as you look at your child.

Terrifying, right?

The last draft in the United States was on December 1st, 1969. Whether or not we have another one is yet to be seen. But, the idea of sending my own son off to the military, whether forcefully via a draft or voluntarily of his own free will, scares the crap out of me.

My neighbor’s son recently completed basic training for the U.S. Air Force and got his first assignment--Japan. I can’t imagine being in my neighbor’s position, even with her son going somewhere that is pretty safe as far as military service is concerned.

Tell me about your experiences registering your sons or your experiences as parents of children who have joined the military.

How did you feel about it? How has that experience stayed with you, changed you, or changed your relationship with your child? What advice would you give to another parent with anxiety about these issues?

See all of our posts on transitions HERE

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