When your kid heads off to Navy boot camp, you'll get a 30 second call when they arrive, a box full of their civilian clothes about a week later, and a form letter from the Department of the Navy in about another week.
The form letter expresses appreciation for your support of your recruit, gives you the official address for sending mail to your recruit (as well as letting you know what is and is not acceptable to mail), discusses telephone calls (you can't call 'em), emergency leave (strongly discouraged), visiting (not until PIR - Pass in Review, the official graduation ceremony), and various and sundry other form-letter-type stuff. There are also two lines available for your kid to write a message.
This didn't stop my daughter from cramming eight lines of writing in the "Recruit's Comments" area as well as little notes or a drawing on each of the other three pages of the letter.
Her illustration let us know that the bitter cold (boot camp is in Great Lakes, Illinois) was being compensated for by what she referred to as cold-weather
Her note indicated that the RDCs (Recruit Division Commanders) aren't as scary as she thought they would be because she hasn't "done anything completely moronic ... yet." And that one of the things that keeps her going is knowing "whatever comes after this canNOT POSSIBLY suck this bad. It's inconceivable."
And then she broke my heart by saying that she barely laughs for fear of getting yelled at. My daughter has an absolutely delightful, infectious laugh and it's one of the things I miss the most.
But if the kid who's going through the boot camp ordeal can tell me to "Be strong - I'm okay" - well, it's the least I can do.