"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown

"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Not Daddy

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?”

“Yes, bug-ah?

“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.

“Yes, bug-ah?”

“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?


  1. My little guy was just over 3 years when his Daddy left for Afghanistan... One night, right before bed, he asked me this very same question, no tears, not upset, just curious. I answered him just as you did. "Daddy's in Afghanistan, bug." He wanted more though so I ended up explaining to him that Daddy was in the desert and got out a globe, spun it around and showed him where we were and where his Daddy was. We talked about the why, what he was doing, who he was helping. But when I had answered all his questions he was content.

    There's an excellent book called _Night Catch_ that is just spot on for this age. Every once in a while he'll want to read it and from it he's learned that A-stan's night is our day, that he would have to travel by plane to get there, and other random bits that he brings up out of the blue.

    Kids are amazing. It's my biggest pet peeve when people tell me "Oh, at least he's young and won't remember." Oh, he'll remember it alright. Same way he knows what slide is at what park, what paper he gave himself a paper cut with over a month ago, what color the hotel was that we stayed at to see my husband off. They remember so MUCH.

    I hope your little guy finds his Daddy on that base really soon. =) Honesty is the best policy.

  2. I tell my daughter that Daddy had to go live in Afghanistan for a year and help some people that really needed him. When they don't need him anymore, he'll come home. Then I told her that he would be home when she was 3. Just a little past that, and he would be here.
    Her birthday is conveniently on July 4th, too.
    She asks, and I answer, as best and as honestly as I can. I just don't want her to ever get the wrong ideas, and I want her to know that in our lives, this is our normal. Daddy has to go sometimes, and we know it's going to feel like forever, but that he does come back.

  3. My little Dude does that as well. When we drive on post, he hollers, "Dares Daddy" (There's Daddy) at every person in ACUs.


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