YK has been in the army for 2.5 months now and we're all quite used to the routine. He books out on Friday night and goes back in after dinner on Sunday. Now that weekends are so precious, we try to spend time together as a family.
The stint in the army has changed him already. He's slimmer, fitter and darker. I find that he has become more tolerant too. I supposed when you're forced to live with an entire company of young men and go through hardship together, you just have to put aside the differences and build camaraderie. He has adapted to the new lifestyle and his conversation is peppered with military jargon. He brings home funny stories about his camp mates which make us roar with laughter. He has even declared that the army bed is more comfy than the one back home. I choose to think that after a hard day of training, even lying down on concrete floor is bliss.
If there is anything that is less than desirable, it has got to be the cookhouse food. There are some hits and misses. Brought up on a simple diet of fresh seafood and vegetables, he finds the sloshy mystery minced meat revolting. The only vegetables that seem to make regular appearance are overcooked Chinese cabbage and cauliflower. His favourite is the green bean soup dessert which according to him, is cooked to perfection. Even bananas and ice cold drinks are such a treat. They like Tuesday dinners the most because they get ice cream for dessert, even if it is just a simple ice lolly.
Deprived of fresh leafy greens in camp, I give him plenty of vegetables and fruits when he's back home. The diet and training have taken a toll on his skin and his limbs are covered with bruises which he waves off with nonchalance. I have learned that the only ones who feel pain are the mommies.
My friend who has 3 sons says it's always hardest (for the mom) when the first one goes into the army. By the time the second is enlisted, you're hardened already. I quite agree. When YK first went in, I was miserable and probably infected him with some of my despair. When I left his camp that day, other parents stood and waved merrily while I hid in a corner to cry.
Seeing how well-adjusted and happy he is in the company of new friends fills my heart with joy. The army has invited parents to visit the camp again this weekend and I'm looking forward. This time, I'll leave the tissue at home and bring my big smile instead.