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It’s Not Really About Me (Yeah, it’s kind of about me)

September 14, 2017

Well, you have to sign up for the draft, it’s called the Selective Service. . .and you can now write your own notes to excuse missed school days.

It shouldn’t make a difference. I’ve been through it five times already. But, this time is different. This time it was my son.

We had an important birthday at my house this week. My oldest son turned 18. As I said, I’ve been through this with his five older sisters. Some of them had their 18th at our house, some of them were already moved out or living other places. I’m not sure why this one was different.

Maybe it’s because he had to register for the draft. Sure, we haven’t actually had a draft for over 50 years and it’s unlikely his number will ever be called. But, you have to consider the prospect when a son fills out that form. My lovely wife informed me that NO, he did not need to go down to the post office and fill out a post card. Apparently the system has been updated since 1983 when I had to go through the process.

Maybe it’s concern for his safety. And yet, my second oldest daughter is actually in the military. She’s a 1st LT in the Army Reserves. As a future Army veterinarian it’s very doubtful she will ever be in harms way. But as an active duty officer she’s closer than my son.

Maybe it’s the fact that the state is willing to let him write his own notes. I remember my senior year. I skipped school more than I should. I once wrote a note excusing my absence because “Unfortunately, Rodney died.” The school wasn’t amused. My son is a great student who is enrolled in college classes as a high school senior. He missed a class today. He asked if we wouldn’t mind excusing it since he’s not even sure how to do it.

Maybe it’s just the idea that he’s no longer a little boy. In the eyes of the world he’s now an adult. And as he (and in the coming months and then years his brothers) makes the transition to adulthood, it changes my role. My my oldest daughter moved out and then turned 18 she asked me,

Does this mean you can finally stop worrying about me?

Doesn’t matter how old you get. Dads always worry about their daughters.

. . .and their sons.

It’s possible that one of the reasons this birthday affected me differently than my older kids is that just a few weeks before his birthday my son completed the final requirements for the Eagle Scout award. All requirements need to be completed by the time a boy turns 18. The Eagle Scout award is really important to me. Thirty-seven years ago I earned the Eagle Scout award. In the Scouting world, Eagle is not only the ultimate rank, it is always a rank that the recipient holds for life. Once an Eagle Scout, always an Eagle Scout.

Throughout my career, the Eagle award has helped me get jobs. It has helped me bond with men across multiple professions. It was only recently that I quit including it on my printed resume. (It’s still in my LinkedIn! profile.) I promised my boys when they entered scouting that the first boy to achieve the Eagle rank could have the physical badge that was awarded to me almost four decades ago. As a collector, I have thousands of patches. I would have never considered trading that particular patch. Giving it away just seems like the right thing to do.

One of his sisters asked him,

So, bro, how’s it feel to be 18?

Pretty much the same as it felt to be 17.

I’m just glad she didn’t ask me. Because it’s not supposed to be about me.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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