I continue to be intrigued by the differences in the experience of having my son at the Naval Academy (he commissioned in 2020) and my daughter at the Air Force Academy as a Doolie.
My son was rocked by his I Day experience – and to be honest, so was the rest of the family – so during Plebe Summer and Plebe Year, it was all about emotional support. I created magazine-style letters and wrote endless cards (there are some examples of them here if you’re interested). Of course, the main intent was to help lift his spirits and keep him motivated to carry on. On the other hand, it was also incredibly therapeutic as a parent coping not just with his first child leaving home after high school, but taking on the life of a military academy.
My daughter has been a much different story. Unlike her brother, and largely because of her brother, she knew what she was getting into. While she’s had her ups and downs at the Prep School and now on The Hill, her valleys have not been anywhere near as deep as her brother’s. And as for her father, well, I miss her an awful lot, but knowing she’s in a good spot emotionally helps me sleep easier.
So I haven’t felt compelled to write elaborate letters or inundate her with cards. In fact, I tripped across something that she really loves and that allows me a creative outlet. The added bonus is that it’s something just for her, not something we did for her brother and now do for her to “keep things equal.”
I downloaded the MyPostcard app on a lark – it allows you to create and send real postcards from your phone. They can be as simple as a single photo or you can use a bunch of built-in collage/grids. Or if you tend to be a little “extra” like yours truly, you can design something fancier and upload that, too. It’s really as easy or complex as you want it to be.
Let’s say you take a photo and figure, “my Cadet would love this photo.” Now, you can text it to them or post it on Instagram and tag them, but we all know how special it is for them to get something tangible in their mailbox. So you open the app, upload the photo, write a short message, and send it. Bang. Done.
My Cadet has loved this – she likes getting mail, of course, but she can also put the postcards on her corkboard for little pick-me-ups. Because I go overboard and send five or six a month, she can keep the look “fresh” by rotating in new postcards every so often.
Of course, you can store addresses, which means it’s super easy to fire off a postcard at a moment’s notice. While I used the app exclusively for my Cadet for many months, I’ve found that I find it a great way to shoot off thank yous and other notes, so my address book has several entries now.
You can also tinker with a couple of different fonts and text colors, which is neat. And while you can’t use all the emojis from your phone the app does make a handful of them available for the text of your cards.
You can send a bunch of other things like greeting cards and such, but I haven’t used any of those functions. Strictly the basic postcards for me. But one thing built-in that I do like are badges. You get them for sending a certain number of postcards or sending them to multiple locations, stuff like that. The reward is a discount that usually lasts for about a month. So it’s kind of like a frequent shopper discount. Yes, I earn a bunch of them. And every so often, they’ll offer a discount on credits, so it’s another way to make it more reasonable.
So if your phone is full of photos you want to share with your Cadet, I highly recommend giving it a try. Here’s a link to the app in the Google Play store and here’s a link to the app in the iTunes store. If you give it a try, I’d love to hear what you think!