YK will be undergoing the toughest part of his basic military training this week. It's the gruelling week long field camp where they learn to live in the field as a soldier. It is infamous for making even the fittest guys break down and cry.
To help the recruits cope emotionally, parents have been asked to send in a letter of encouragement so the boys can read it during one of the most trying periods of their lives. Many male friends laughed when I said my letter was 2 pages long. They say kids today are way too pampered.
See, these men think that our boys are so fortunate compared to 'those days' when they were in the army. They tend to forget that 'those days' was three decades ago when we had no airconditioning, computers and mobile phones. Back then, the army food was bad, training was tougher and the word welfare was unheard of.
None of these friends have sons who are going to the army, so they cannot emphatise with me enough. Kids today grow up in a different environment. They don't climb trees, wade in the longkang (drains) or play combat in the kampung (village) like we did. Most live in the city and have never been in direct contact with mud all their lives.
While most parents agree that the 2 year stint in the army is beneficial, how can we not worry whether our sons will be able to cope physically and emotionally? It's not reassuring to read about young lives being taken away while they are doing a service to the nation.
Anyway, back to the field camp. The rainy season is here which makes the exercise twice as gruelling. The boys will be wet, muddy, stinky and miserable. This guy's blog post about his own experience sums it up nicely.
The worst thing is, YK doesn't get to come home this weekend. He will be roughing it out in the jungle, sleeping in a sloshy hole while we snuggle under the covers.