“Why do you talk to your dad on FaceTime?!”

April 16, 2015

  The kids have started a new daycare and are making new friends.  The other night  I picked them up and Keira was a bit withdrawn.  I asked if she wanted to talk and Ella said, “Mama, Garrett stuck up for Keira today.”  Through the eyes (and words) of a five year old I heard our first story of how completely naïve and uncompassionate children can be. Sitting in the backseat Ella proceeded to tell me of a disagreement that started over the color pink.  Apparently a little boy and Keira were having a passionate discussion over whether or not pink was a real color.  Keira got frustrated and said, “I’m just going to ask my dad when I FaceTime him tonight.”  The little boy inquired to why she would need to do that and she explained her dad was preparing for deployment.  He responded by saying something to the effect of “he probably is going to get shot.” It’s hard to fathom how such a simple discussion can turn so hurtful. Put yourself in the shoes of an 8 year old who loves and worships her father.  A little girl so full of pride for his service, yet so fearful of those exact words.  Our family knows the reality of war.  We’ve lost friends in theater, to suicide and to the hands of their fellow soldiers.  The day we told Keira about the upcoming adventure, and every day since, she’s asked at least once a day about the “what ifs.”  Each time it tears my heart out and I see terror and strength mixed up in a tiny little body. What can you say to make it easier?  The reality is, there is nothing to say.  There is nothing that can ease her fears.  There is only patience, understanding and lots of hugs. The life my husband and I have chosen is wrought with challenge that is shaping the lives of our children.  We choose to teach them that the life we live is an honor, even in the tough moments.  So when other children lash out and say hurtful things without understanding the pain they inflict, we use it as an opportunity to teach.  We talk about what respect looks like and how to handle situations where opinions differ, stakes become high and people say things that are hurtful.  We teach them to persevere and to forgive (even when we want to do everything but). I will never pretend to be perfect or that I know all the answers, but I will do the best that I can every day.  I will be strong when I want to be weak and I will see challenge as opportunity.  Through this I only hope that our children continue to grow to be well rounded, resilient and compassionate citizens. Whatever lies ahead, there is one thing that is certain, we will get through it together. -Karen