By Ms. Elyssa Vondra (Fort Jackson)September 28, 2018
One Fort Jackson elementary student has an impressive resume. Nathan Mobley, 8, is already a published author.
He and his mom, former drill sergeant Staff Sgt. Ayan Mobley, wrote "My Mommy is a Drill Sergeant" -- a children's book that tackles the subject of Basic Combat Training and life in the Army.
They held their first book reading at Fort Jackson Sept. 24, presenting it to Child, Youth and School Services, and the public at large.
"Books are our thing," Ayan, a former teacher, said.
A single parent and drill sergeant of three years, she uses literature to bond with Nathan.
Through their book, she brought to light a story largely unknown to the outside world.
"The civilian population has no idea what we do," Ayan said. She set out to change that.
"This (book) is from his perspective," Ayan said. Nathan dictated what was written. The mother-son duo drafted it in just two weeks.
The book was officially released Aug. 17, and they have already sold around 80 copies, Ayan said Aug. 24.
Nathan is an avid advertiser, she admitted. "He tries to put a plug in everything."
The inspiration for the story all began with a trip to the Basic Combat Training museum on post. Nathan was fascinated and wound up playing "gas chamber" at recess with his friends.
"He thinks it's cool," Ayan said. "He was really interested in what I do every day."
Whenever she could, Ayan took Nathan to work with her. It was a nice break from bringing him to daycare at 4:15 a.m., seven days per week, she said.
"Six weeks, he was at daycare," Ayan said. "I have nobody to switch off with." She remedied being a single parent by keeping Nathan by her side when possible.
While at work with her, Ayan said Nathan always tries to show his strength, hoisting himself onto the pullup bars. They had a mutual understanding that she wouldn't help him down if he got stuck.
He imitated his mom, unbuttoning her drill sergeant hat to make it look more like a "boy's hat" -- a brown round, as Ayan called it.
He sometimes says he wants to be a drill sergeant, but he has gone back and forth. He has had every career plan from firefighter to garbage man, Ayan said.
"I want to be an actor," Nathan said when asked Sept. 24. Theatre was his goal that day, though he did nod when asked if he also wanted to join the Army and become a drill sergeant.
Nathan said his favorite part of the book-creation process was spending time with his mom.
Beyond that, he hoped to highlight the Army Family lifestyle.
"I wanted to show other people how you can enjoy the military," he said.
The title of the book is technically no longer true for Nathan. His mommy is done with her stint as a drill sergeant.
Aug. 31 was officially Ayan's last day. Soon, she and Nathan will be leaving Fort Jackson -- their home of six years -- for Hawaii, where Ayan will work in human resources.
One day, Ayan hopes to make writing her full-time job.
For now, she and Nathan will continue to create books. They intend to make an entire series.
They are currently in the editing phase of "Military Kids Rock" -- a book for kids that describes "what it feels like to be a military kid," Ayan said. Nathan described it as a book about "helping children get their full education." It is set for release after Jan. 1.
"We're still brainstorming" future plotlines, Ayan said.
She is also working on the website, millitarymochamommy.com. It's a resource for single parents.
Time management is what Ayan calls the key to her success. It's a value she tries to instill in Nathan. She uses some BCT practices at home.
"We are very regimented," she said. They even do two-minute shower drills.
It doesn't always work. Despite the book's detail on how Soldiers clean their barracks, Ayan said Nathan absolutely does not clean his room.