Contact Us

How To Handle a Bad Call Home During Plebe Summer

parent's guide phone calls plebe summer Jul 05, 2019

I was Not Happy During My First Phone Call 

During my first phone call home, I was not happy. I thought I had made the wrong choice in attending the Academy, and I wanted to go home more than anything.

There’s a pretty decent chance that some plebes this year are feeling that way as well.

So, my mom, Kerry Vermeer, has put together a few words of advice in case your first phone call home is a little like mine was. Here is what she has to say:

My Mom's Advice

Being a plebe is hard, and so is being a plebe parent. Nothing is worse than seeing your kid unhappy, and our natural instincts as parents tell us to do whatever it takes to make them happy again.

My son Grant had a very rough Plebe Summer, and therefore so did I.

The main problem for me at this time was that I hadn’t yet ‘bought-into’ the Academy. Not only was I hating seeing my son be so miserable, but I also was not convinced that attending the Academy was the right thing for him.

I couldn’t yet believe that learning through the discipline of the Academy and being a member of the military would shape him in unimaginably great ways. When Grant was tackling Plebe Summer, I had known not one other person who had gone through this process.

Therefore, I could not find hope and all I could feel was his pain.

I remember that before the first call home, Grant’s basketball coaches called us to tell us that we needed to prepare for a pretty terrible call. So when the phone rang from Grant, I couldn’t even answer. I gave the phone to my husband, Scott, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it and that I would just tell Grant to come home.

I could overhear Grant continually saying, “I hate this place and I’m coming home.”

Scott would just tell him to wait until Parents’ Weekend to talk it over, and he’d angrily respond saying he “wouldn’t be able to make it to Parents’ Weekend,” that he “hated the Academy,” that he “didn’t want to be in the military,” that he “wasn’t cut out for this,” and everything else under the sun.

So all of this just made me even more upset about everything.

His pain was my pain and I just wanted my son home and happy.

Just know that if your plebe ends up like ours did during Plebe Summer, that it is going to be okay. We’re all humans, and when we are uncomfortable, we will justify any reason to become comfortable again.

For my son, it was the “I don’t want to be in the military” justification.

Expect your child may react this way – it’s very common. And if he or she doesn’t, that is absolutely wonderful and you should consider yourself lucky.

My only advice is to let the figure – whether a parent, relative, or friend – who is most bought-into the Academy do the talking.

But at the end of the day, if you’re looking for specific helpful words, they don’t exist. My husband will tell you that nothing he said that day actually got through to Grant. 

All you can do is stay strong, encourage your plebe to do the same, and remind them and yourself that there is a reason your son or daughter is where they are. 

And after having my son graduate, I cannot speak highly enough about The Naval Academy. Navy ended up being the best place for my son, and he would not be the man he is today if I had been on that phone that day and encouraged him to come home.

-Kerry Vermeer, Plebe Mom in 2013


Photo credit: Bob Peterson