Children are amazing.
The things they hold onto, the things they remember, how well they can process certain moments is amazing.
I don’t know why I didn’t expect it. I should have expected it. But I honestly didn’t think he would remember. He was barely two when we left here. But he knew it. The instant we drove up to the gate he knew it.
“Daddy?!” he asked – his voice rising on the “dy?” He knew this place was where his daddy should be. I rolled down the back window with mine so he could see the MP checking my ID.
“Not Daddy,” he stated simply, shaking his head. There was no sadness or disappointment, just acknowledgement that that soldier did not belong to him. I looked in my rearview mirror to watch him as he poked his head around with his neck stretched out looking, “Daddy? Where are you?” I rolled up the windows and pulled into post.
He looked for him when we went into the housing office. He even went up to a soldier and pulled the leg of his pant. The soldier looked down and smiled, said, “Hey, buddy.”
Logan let go. “Not Daddy,” he said shaking his head and searching for him again. He just “knew” he was going to find him. “Daddy? Daddy? Where are you?” he kept asking as he poked his face into doorways and looked behind counters. Never getting upset, never showing the slightest disappointment but never giving up.
As I strapped him back into his car seat and pulled the chest strap higher he asked me, “Mommy?”
“Where’d Daddy go?” My heart sank.
I have done my best to not say C went “to work” because I do not want him to associate that simple phrase with this kind of separation. But he has never asked me the question so directly. He has never looked straight up at me with his big brown eyes that are the same color as his daddy’s and asked me without anger or sadness where he had gone. He had never asked this question (that he had asked a hundred times) in this way – like he just needed to know why every soldier he saw today was “not Daddy.” What could I tell him?
“Daddy is in Afghanistan, baby boy.”
“Atgamininstan?” he repeated.
“Yes, Logan, Afghanistan.”
“Oh.” He shrugged his shoulders. “Okay. Daddy in Atgamininstan.” He thought a moment.
“Mommy?” the same high pitch at the end.
“Daddy coming home?”
“Yes, baby. Daddy’s coming home real soon.”
Another soldier got out of the car beside us. “Nope, not Daddy,” he said again. “Daddy in Atgamininstan.”
Children really are amazing. There is so much beauty within their hearts.
How do you answer the “Where is daddy/mommy” question for your children?