Skype-ing with our Marine and the Alien Webcam

After boot camp graduation, we gave Sean a camera-equipped laptop so he could easily tote it around to find connectivity. Our more antiquated computers required the purchase of an external webcam. After Bruce completed setup, we finally connected with our Marine! I had not anticipated how much comfort I would feel in just seeing him live. At first we had a few technical difficulties, including a distracting episode where sound and mouth went out of synch, like an old film projector. He had to squat on the floor at the back of the squad bay, privacy being pretty hard to come by. He later posted on Facebook about our first video call; “it was SO GOOD to see them!” Warms a mom’s heart.

The Alien WebcamThe webcam, I must say, gives me the willies. Reminds me of the Martians in War of the Worlds (the classic one, not the silly Tom Cruise remake). Turns out it has a removable neck stalk (probably not the right term, but that’s what I’m calling it). I made Bruce disassemble it before going to bed. I didn’t want to have a coronary when walking into the den in the middle of the night to let out the dog. Without the neck stalk, it resembles a little black alien snowman, like something out of Monsters, Inc. Weird, but not nearly as creepy.

On a subsequent call, when Bruce got everything connected and fired up, I made the next horrifying discovery.

It moves.

The nasty little creature has face capture (shudder) technology, so it moves around to follow your face.  The motor whirrs; I half-expected the stench of burning Martian gasses to spew forth.

I promptly vetoed the den as the primary Skype location. The Martian-cam is now quarantined into Bruce’s office so I only have to look at it when chatting with Sean. Nightmares I do not need.  Sean of course finds this hilarious.

After recovering from horrifying Martians, we had several great conversations. He has known for some time that he will serve on guard duty at Camp Pendleton while he awaits the start of his technical school. He just found out that he reports to school (still not exactly sure where or for how long) on October 14. So he’ll be cooling his heels for about 2 ½ weeks….a little while, but not as bad as the potential 45 days that his sergeant warned him about. He’s just anxious to get the next bit started, but he knows he must learn to be patient.

Their final official activities included a 15-km hike (with fully loaded pack) and a three-day battlefield exercise (BSRE, he called it). Right at the beginning of the hike, he rolled his ankle. Didn’t sprain it, but it was still sore days afterwards. He enjoyed some parts of the BSRE (storming the mock town, for example; “that gets your blood pumping!”), but other parts were wet, cold, and miserable. He showed off a finger swelled up like a sausage, courtesy of an angry hornet. They also posed for a new set of pictures, for which they chose their own captions. Sean’s suits him to perfection.

At graduation, they presented him (and two others) with an award of merit. Their platoon voted on those with the best leadership qualities and those “they’d most like to go into battle with.” Of course we’re very proud of him. He has a great post on his blog about the possibility of becoming a chaplain.

As I write this, he has completed graduation and is moving to yet another squad bay, where he’ll live while completing his guard duty assignment. Now that he is out of infantry school, he will have more time to email, text, and call. We’re trying to decide if we want to go visit him in California or wait until he gets to tech school. He would vote for the former.

This entire experience is teaching both he and I (sorry, but “him and me” sounds wrong) how to deal with uncertainty on a daily basis. The military provides answers on its timelines, not ours; I had forgotten that, and he is learning it. I do not venture into the “what-ifs” for his future and focus only on what’s happening now and how best to support him—whether that’s driving his truck to him or putting up with creepy Martian-cams. That’s my job. 🙂

–Mighty Marine Mom


Posted on September 27, 2011, in Marine Combat Training, Military Parent, Motherhood, US Marine Corps and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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