I am responsible for the bounty of boodle that has taken over my oldest child’s barracks room.
I first learned of “boodle” and the joy it can bring to both mother and child last summer while that oldest child of mine was being yelled at and put through his paces during Cadet Basic Training. In West Point circles, CBT is affectionately referred to as “Beast Barracks”, or simply, ”Beast”. In West Point Mom circles, it is known as “the dark time when I knew someone was being mean to my baby, but I couldn’t do anything about it.”
During that dark time, I was introduced to an amazing group of women dedicated to supporting each other during the 47-month roller coaster ride of life as a West Point Mom. Through the wonder of Facebook, the veteran moms of West Point scooped the new West Point moms into a warm embrace and told us we would be okay. Our children would ”slay the Beast”, and with their help, we would most certainly become fluent in military jargon.
When one exuberant mom posted that she was buying boodle to send to her son, my first reaction was to blush at the slightly illicit sound of the term. Surely, this is not something meant to be shared between a mother and her son. As other moms chimed in at the remarkably soothing effects of boodle and the almost immediate rush of endorphins upon giving and receiving, I began to wonder if what they were doing was legal.
I was intrigued, but I was uncertain if my own heart-felt posts through social media had earned me enough trust among these women to be granted the knowledge of this well-guarded secret. I sat back and waited for someone else to ask the questions I was too intimidated to type…
”What is boodle, and how do I get some?”
As I waited, I typed “boodle” into Wikipedia only to find out that boodle is not some type of highly addictive drug. In the mid-1880s, it was a form of government bribery. Were these moms I respected so highly really encouraging their children to bribe their way through the U.S. Military Academy?
I didn’t believe it, so back I went to Facebook in search of more clues. The newest additions to the thread created a user’s guide to procuring and packing boodle.
“The best place to find boodle is at Wal-Mart.”
“The post office is the only place to get your supplies.”
“Use a FoodSaver to keep it fresh.”
“Send extra boodle for sharing if you can.”
“Don’t forget the bubble wrap!”
Then finally…the recipe! “Just fill it with love, moms!”
LOVE! That’s what boodle is! West Point Moms send their children love in U.S. Postal Service flat rate boxes!
“Boodle”, as defined by West Point Moms on Facebook, is a loving reminder that someone at home is thinking of you and wants to bring a smile to your face. It is fresh baked cookies, jars of peanuts, sweet smelling shampoo, a picture of the family dog, a card filled with words of encouragement, a silly trinket from the dollar store meant to spark a funny memory shared between a mother and her child.
Now eight months later, I am an expert at assembling boodle. So much so that during Plebe Parent Weekend last month, I was astounded by the sight of my cadet’s boodle box sitting in its place of honor above his desk.
Like all parents that weekend, I was granted the opportunity to walk inside my cadet’s room to see where he spends his time outside of the classroom. I wanted to see everything–where he hung his uniforms, where he kept his socks, and of course, how he stored his boodle.
He smiled when he pulled the plastic bin from the shelf, but we all braced ourselves when he unsnapped the lid. I could tell even before he pulled the top back that this might end in disaster. The sides of the container were bulging, and the lid was bowed in the middle. The boodle had exceeded the boundaries of its box and threatened to burst into a mushroom cloud of goldfish, peanuts and beef jerky.
Yes, I supply my son with boodle. The physical contents are usually my secret recipe pretzels, cookies that can be shared with his roommates and pictures drawn by his little sister. I don’t stop filling the box until I have stuffed every empty space of each package with all the love I have stored up in his absence.
His boodle runneth over…as does my love for a young man hundreds of miles away sinking his teeth into a taste from home.