Naps And Snacks, The Later Years

By Major Van Harl USAF Ret

Wisconsin –-(  My then eighth-grade daughter had a speech and drama class project where the teacher took some of the students to an Altus (Altus Oklahoma) grade school and had the drama students perform for the little kids.

In a later conversation with my daughter, she informed me how lucky the younger children had it.

“They get naps and snacks, life was good in grade school” she advised me. I informed her it’s “heck” having to grow up.

When we first got to Altus, middle school was set up like junior and senior high school. I don’t think she was still taking naps in fifth grade, but for sure the pace picked up dramatically in middle school. My daughter is an Air Force brat and in her young life attended school in Texas, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, and did high school at Air Academy HS on the grounds of the US Air Force Academy.

My father the Navy Master Chief offered the same pattern of K-thru-12 education for my sisters and me. I attended eleven schools in order to get to my senior year in high school. To include, a three-room schoolhouse in a small Scottish village.

One thing you learn early in life as a military member’s child is, change is constant.

In my Navy days, we moved every two years, which explains the eleven school names on my report cards. In the Air Force, they try to keep you at an airbase for three to four years, but the more senior an Air Force kid’s military parent is, the odds are the more they will move.

On a number of occasions, I change schools in the middle of the school year. You want to talk about stress. The pecking order had already been established in the classroom long before I got there. Everyone in class already knew what the teacher liked and disliked and they already knew who the class bully was. I think naps left me after first grade which for me was good because I could never go to sleep or even be quiet. So nap time usually got me in trouble.

I did re-discover naps in ninth grade. At first, I scared my mother because she thought something was wrong. The truth was I was growing and I needed more sleep. Come to think of it my daughter rediscover naps her freshman year. Maybe this nostalgic yearning for naps and snacks is as much biological as it is emotional.

However, short of pulling the breaker switch for her bedroom, I bet I cannot have gotten her to turn out her lights before 10:00 pm.

At least she was talking to me about this issue. Sometimes for short periods I am the popular parent in the home, but since I refuse to go shopping with my daughter I will never be the most popular parental unit.

I remember seeing some community service commercial years ago on TV where the dad takes his teenage daughter out to eat so the two can have some quality bonding time. It seamed hokey at the time but it does work. If there is nobody else but the two of you and you can manage to have the cell phone turned off, I would suggest you can have a pleasant and productive conversation with your very soon to be adult child.

Perhaps your teen does not get naps at school anymore and most likely you hope they would stop snacking, but the major issue is increasing the positive communication between parent and child.

Our daughter graduated from college this past weekend. Two weeks ago she swore into the US Air Force Reserve and will attend medical school on a military medical scholarship, with commissioned officer training this summer. Adult summer camp as she calls it, was held in the middle of an Alabama summer.

Sunday evening after all the excitement she had a slice of cake, laid down on the couch, and passed out for three hours. I guess even college graduates sometimes still have a need for naps and snacks.

They are all going to go away someday, you just want to make sure they still return once in a while and actually talk to you, not just ask for money. I even have a new gun safe sitting in the garage for her to take to med school. Just because you are attending one of the most liberal universities in the country is no reason to go unprepared.

We got her concealed carry class accomplished before her 21st birthday. The old and now new again Air Force motto Aim High would apply here I believe. OK, I get it, proud papa, I will stop.

Major Van Harl USAF Ret.
[email protected]

About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School.  A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI.  His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training.  He believes “evil hates organization.”  [email protected]

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Charles Griffin

Great story Major! My daughter too was a military kid. She and her Mother spent 20 years in the Marine Corps with me. They followed me allover the US. They also did without me on multiple unaccompanied tours to Okinawa and elsewhere. I also found it wise to spend some sort of time with my daughter. Be it fishing, coacing softball, soccer, or horses in the later years, I think it made both of our lives better. We understand each other better, can communicate like adults, know each other’s faults, and can be honest with each other. She finished college… Read more »