The Tin Soldier

Tinson1is joining the FCA, or the Reserve Defence Forces as it is now apparently known.

If ever I needed proof that he is not my clone, no matter how much he looks like me, then this is it. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do less. Well, be trapped in a lift for two hours with the elevator music stuck on “Achey Breaky Heart” , perhaps, but nothing else.

Indeed, the FCA came campaigning to our class when I was in my final year at school. It wasn’t a great success. The guy decided to appeal to the macho man within us. “The training is really tough,” he said. “Wow”, we repiled. “You’ll get to drive really big motorbikes,” he said. “Oooooh,” we replied.

Looking at their website now, it’s clear that they’ve upped their game since my time when it comes to recruitment skills. The introduction says:

“What did you get up to last weekend? Well, if it involved getting together with a 100 or so good friends and firing semi-automatic Steyr AUG rifles or being part of an artillery gun crew, then you already know about the unique challenges and attractions of the Reserve Defence Forces. If not, maybe you should check it out.”

Even my class would have been impressed by that. Anyway, Tinson1certainly was, and so a couple of days ago Mrs Tin had to drive him to Wicklow town to go through the induction process. The other Tinkids and I stood at the window and saluted as the car backed out of the driveway. (When he returned Tinson1informed us solemnly that there are very strict rules about when and whom you salute, and was informed equally solemnly that we weren’t in the FCA, and that we‘d salute whomever we wanted to, whenever we wanted to, thank him very much). We have continued to poke fun at him ever since, with comments about tennis-ball haircuts and potato-mountain-peeling, and will carry on doing so right up until the time when he learns to use the rifle.

What do I think of it all? I don’t want to stand in the way of him trying anything he wants to. I honestly believe that when he actually tries it (he can’t start for another five weeks, till he’s 17) he won’t like it, and that it will be a lesson well learned. If he does like it, and stays involved, well, it will keep him fit (one of his obsessions), teach him about discipline, and the importance of teamwork.

And we do need a Defence Force. And other countries do have National Service. And the youth of these countries do seem to emerge more respectful and mature.

And yet… I hate all the macho crap involved with organisations like this. I’m sad that the website had to focus on the opportunity to fire rifles, rather than the chance to serve the public, as its catchcry. I’m worried that he’ll come into contact with people joining because of the lure of aggression and bullying rather than the excitement and cameraderie. And, in the end, damn it, I just don’t like guns.

Or perhaps I’m just sad because it’s one more proof that his childhood is virtually over, and that he’s becoming a man.

1 thought on “The Tin Soldier

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