In two months, less if you are an athlete reporting the end of July, the Class of 2020 will report for Matriculation Day at The Citadel. This time of year is stressful for the families of the incoming knobs.
The students are starting to get their “game face” on. If they are smart, the incoming knobs are breaking in their shoes and working on their physical training. I’m told by cadets and alumni those are two things a knob can do to help them self out the beginning of this challenging year. It will still be tough but if you can meet or exceed the PT standards at least the new cadet recruit won’t have to do remedial physical training on top of everything else.
While the incoming knobs, also called cadet recruits, have concrete things they can do to prepare the parents task is not as straight forward. Parents need to begin to prepare to, but their preparation is more mental than physical. Sending a child off to The Citadel is a scary task, especially if you do not have any military background. I know it was scary for me.
Parents need to remember that sending a child off to college should be a time of celebration and focus on the success of the recent high school graduate. Too many parents dwell on the change in a negative light, forgetting that there are some exciting time ahead. Yes, we all miss having our children at home, but sending them off into the world is a sign we have done our jobs as parents.
I’ve learned that for some parents they cope with their anxiety by obsessing over the Success Packet list of items to bring and the Citadel Family Association’s “Nice to Have List.” The problem with that plan is the parents tend to over think the list. There is not one perfect kind of sock, underwear, or the exact size plastic bin. You really can’t make a mistake. If something isn’t brought with them the knobs share with each other. They can also purchase items they need from the Cadet Store and the Bookstore
The big difference in sending a child to a military school like The Citadel is the abruptness of it all. The knobs turn in their phones the very first day they arrive and do not get them back and do not have computer access for a week to ten days. Some parent handle this better than others.
My suggestion is to keep yourself very busy that first week. Limit your time on the computer and social media. Let your friends and family know you’d like to get together for a visit, spend more time on your other children and your spouse. Most likely they’re feeling a bit strange about this new normal too.
It’s also a good idea to try and let go of some of the control over your son or daughter’s time now. In a couple of months you will have very, very little input as to how they spend their time or what they are doing day to day. Get used to that now.
The first few weeks that the knobs are on campus some photos will be posted to the school’s Facebook page , and the Citadel Photography page as well as the parent Facebook groups. You’ll begin to understand the game of “Where’s Waldo” in a whole other context. Once they get their hair cut and wear the same uniforms it is very hard to find YOUR Waldo. (Pro tip: If they are in the PT clothes look for their athletic shoes.)
Between now and Matriculation Day step away from Facebook and spend time face to face with your family.