Soldier Boy

union jack, buckingham palace, november 2012

Once upon a time I rebelled against my parent's strict regime at home, flouncing out when I was eighteen, convinced I knew best.  Since then the path hasn't been smooth but I've learnt by my mistakes.

Subsequently I have found out that it's hard... really hard watching your children grow up and make the right/wrong choices in life.  It's even harder to have to hold back and not attempt to pick up the pieces or give them a boot up the arse when you don't think it's going too smoothly.

In January 2010 I wrote this post about Michael expressing an interest in joining the Army.  He left school with average (better than expected) GCSE results and completed two years at college on a Motor Vehicle Studies course.  He hunted high and low for a work placement during that time but there was nothing available.  Now, he has no real experience (only what was available during lesson time in the college workshop) and mechanics is really a job that needs you to be hands-on rather than theory-rehearsed.  He is now claiming Job Seekers Allowance and has been sent on 8-weeks work experience at Halfords - not a bad deal really and there may be a chance of a job at the end of it.

NB: Let's not get me started on the Government's Back To Work scheme - that's a whole other blog post...

In the meantime he applied to join the Territorial Army - a decision that I'm glad he's made but it obviously comes with parental worries.  He might be 19 years of age now but he's so laid back he's almost horizontal.  I nagged and nagged at him to get all the information he needed because I didn't want him to go into this blind.  He watches and listens to the news.  He hears about all the young soldiers being sent out to war zones.  He knows that some don't come back.  He also knows that the TA isn't the soft option.

He submitted his application, went for initial assessments at our local headquarters and was invited to a selection process last weekend.  He packed a bag that was bigger than one I take for a two-week break abroad and set off for a weekend of mental and physical endurance with targets to meet that he'd not even considered possible before.

HE PASSED!  Every single section!  With flying colours!  
Out of 23 attendees only 10 of them succeeded in completing the weekend course.
A proper proud moment!  And yet, he's still so laid back about it all.  

He now has to have his medical papers signed off by Head Office in Scotland and then he is measured up for his kit.  He attends on one evening a week and at weekends and will have many opportunities to find out who he is and what he wants.