When Eric is sent to military school, he is left feeling lost and needs to find meaning in his life. Upon meeting his estranged father, he decides to change his life for the better and bring his family back together.
Margaret and Richard’s relationship had always been shaky. Even when they were together in college, they were constantly on and off. Despite their love for each other, Richard’s bad-boy nature often got him in unnecessary trouble. When Margaret fell pregnant, the young couple decided to get married for the sake of their son.
For a short time, Richard stayed true to his word, but within a few months, he was back to his old ways. Margaret endured as much as she could, but after Eric turned 3, she filed for divorce.
She was awarded full custody of Eric due to Richard’s lousy behavior. Margaret struggled to raise Eric independently, as she was also the sole breadwinner at home.
Without the guidance of a father figure, Eric began to act out and was quite naughty. “That’s it! No more phone, no more games, and no more time with your friends,” Margaret told Eric. She was desperate to get her son’s behavior in order before he entered high school. Still, Eric continued to cause trouble at home.
Margaret’s friend, Gwen, could tell she was struggling and suggested military school. Gwen insisted it was the best option for a young, ill-disciplined boy who needed to get his act in order. Margaret refused as she felt it may be an overreaction.
She was also worried that Eric would react poorly to being sent away from home. However, her son continued to disobey her, and she eventually had enough of his antics. Soon, she sat him down after he had failed to submit homework and continued to disrupt class at school.
“You leave me no choice, Eric. It seems like no matter how hard I try, you just won’t listen to me. You’re going to military school. Maybe they’ll be able to teach you some discipline. I’ve already packed your things. They’ll be here to pick you up in the morning,” Margaret told Eric.
“I promise you, dad. I’ll get my act together and make you and mom proud. Not only that, I’ll get you home.”
At first, Eric didn’t believe her, but when he went to his bedroom, he found his bags ready to go. Even the posters on his walls had been taken down. The following morning at 6 a.m., Eric was on the bus. He didn’t look his mother in the eye or even give her a proper goodbye.
Upon arrival at military school, Eric could tell that it wasn’t a place where he could mess around. The school was rigorous. Headmaster Ron, a former marine, even had his own catchphrase that explained the basic rule.
“Stay in line, or you’ll get put in line!” he would yell at students.
The school was stringent and focused on teaching the boys responsibility, accountability, and discipline. While Eric didn’t enjoy the system, his behavior changed almost immediately. He quickly learned to respect his elders and superiors.
Every month, different men from the military would come to the school to give lectures. Eric found them boring for the most part until coast guard lieutenants came to talk to the boys. Eric could recognize one of them, and after squinting hard enough, it clicked.
It was his father, Richard, whom he hadn’t seen in ten years. He barely recognized him at first. After the talk was over, Eric ran down to talk to his dad. “H-hi, Lieutenant Richard. S-sorry to bother you, sir. You may not recognize me, but I’m—” Eric said. “My boy!” Richard replied immediately before hugging Eric.
The two went to the canteen to talk over lunch. Eric explained how he ended up in military school.
Richard chuckled before saying, “Well, I guess you’re a chip off the old block. But I’m here because after your mom left me, I realized that I was the problem. I needed to get my life in order and fix my mistakes. I just want you to know that I’ve tried to reach out over the years, but she wasn’t having it, which I understand. But if you’re here, it means you have a chance to fix yourself for the better.”
“This time, I’m going to keep my promise to our son.”
“I promise you, dad. I’ll get my act together and make you and mom proud. Not only that, I’ll get you home. Mark my words,” Eric replied. With support and belief from his father, Eric began to work harder than ever. He realized that he couldn’t continue to throw his life away.
When he returned home for the holidays, Margaret couldn’t believe her eyes. Eric had changed completely. Not only did he achieve top marks for the first time ever, but he was also respectful and helped her around the house without needing to be asked. But soon, Eric sat down with his mother to have a serious discussion.
Margaret agreed and hugged her son as she cried silently.
That evening, Margaret called Richard and invited him for a family dinner. To her surprise, Richard was a new man and carried himself with poise. It was as if she was falling in love all over again. “This time, I’m going to keep my promise to our son, and if you take me back, I’ll never disappoint you again,” Richard told Margaret.
Over the next few months, the family was restored, and the three lived happily together for the first time in a decade.
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