Children’s Perspectives: Deployment and the Military
–by Kristen Tsetsi
E. ( age 11 ) J. ( age 8 ) and H. ( age 4 )
answer questions about their dad’s deployment.
Their father is currently serving in Iraq.
LIFT: How do you feel when you find out your Dad is scheduled to go on a deployment?
E: Sad, and usually surprised. I was surprised this time because we thought he was leaving later. So, I knew he was going to leave but just thought it would be later.
J: I am sad because my Dad is leaving and I did not know.
LIFT: What do you miss the most when he’s gone?
E: The three things I miss the most are all the games we get to play with him, getting to go out and do fun stuff like go to the movies with him, and just him being here at home and getting to see him.
J: I miss him. My Dad. I miss everything about him the most.
H: I miss his hugs and kisses.
LIFT: Is there anything you do or have that helps you feel better when you can’t talk to him?
E: Before he left we all got a present from him. Mine was a calendar that I got that starts at the month he leaves and ends when he comes home. It has pictures of us together for every month, pictures of fun stuff we’ve done together.
J: When Daddy was leaving he gave me a present. It was a blanket that has pictures of him and me together. It makes me feel happy and sad. And I sleep with it every night..
H: Uhm. Yes. When we see pictures about him on the walls. That makes me feel better. And my Daddy Doll is my favorite thing to hug.
LIFT: What happens differently at home when he’s away?
E: We aren’t able to cook on the grill, and that is one of my favorite things to do with my Dad. We aren’t able to go out and do some things, cause like the little kids can’t do them and Mom can’t take us all by ourselves. Like going to see certain movies.
J: So, we can’t do as many things because there aren’t two grown-ups. Like if my sister is sick and we want to go out and do something we can’t do it and we all have to stay home.
LIFT: How do you stay connected with Dad?
How do you share the things that are happening at home?
E: We talk to him on the phone, and we use Skype on the computer to see him and talk to him.
J: We use the computer and talk on Skype. When I see him on Skype though I feel happy and sad.
H: We talk to him on the computer. Then we can see his face! And I paint pictures like for Valentine’s. And send them in a box!
LIFT: Do you have a special way of keeping track of the time until he returns?
E: Yes, three ways actually. My calendar, and we made a paper chain recently to count down the days, and my Mom has this graph on her computer called “The Donut of Misery” that shows how long we have till Daddy comes home.
J: We have a paper chain we made that counts the days just like a couple weeks ago since he’s almost coming home. We cut off one paper link every day. I like to see the chain get shorter..
H: Cutting our paper chain with scissors. Like first it was longer, but then we cut it shorter.
LIFT: How do you feel right before he comes home? What kinds of things are you thinking about when you know he’ll be home in a couple of days?
E: I was feeling excited, and nervous. Happy. I think about what we will do when he comes home.
J: I feel a lot of things. I feel nervous but I don’t know why. But I also feel happy because I can’t wait to see him and be together. It is confusing for me having so many feelings..
LIFT: What is it like when you see him again? Describe a time that he came home and you saw him for the first time after so many months away.
E: We picked him up for R&R in August at the airport. When I first saw him I felt so excited and happy. I could really tell how much I had grown when I gave him a hug I could tell I had gotten taller..
J: When I saw him at the airport I was very excited. I gave him lots of hugs and kisses. We all got in the car to go home and I was excited even more. I can’t really explain it, but it is really great when I see him again.
H: I ran like really fast and gave him a big hug.
LIFT: Describe something Mom does for you, that Dad usually does when he’s home.
How is it different?
E: We have this card game that used to be something just me and my Dad would play. My Mom finally learned how to play it this deployment, but it’s still more fun with him..
J: There is a card game I play with my Dad. It’s called Yu-Gi-Oh. My mom tries to play it but it is different.
H: Go hiking. But usually Mom can’t carry me in the backpack, like my Daddy. So I have to walk. I like the backpack better.
LIFT: Do you and your brother help each other? How?
E: Yes. If my brother is feeling really sad I usually give him a hug and try to figure out what’s wrong. If I can’t help him then I get my Mom. I am the oldest kid in my family and that means I have to help a lot more when my Dad is gone. I feel good when I help my Mom by playing with the little kids and helping them get things they need.
J: We help each other feel better. We play together and we try not to fight. We don’t fight a lot anyways, but we do fight a little bit. But then we say sorry and play together again.
H: I give them hugs when they are sad.
LIFT: Do your friends understand why your Dad deploys? What kinds of things do they say?
E: I don’t talk about it with my friends. I don’t know if they understand.
J: No, they don’t understand. Some of them their Dad is in the Army too so they understand but the other ones don’t. They ask a lot when he’s coming home.
H: Yes, they like soldiers.
LIFT: How do you feel about your Dad and his job?
E: I feel like its an important job and I think its pretty cool what he does. I think his job is hard because he has to leave for a long time. I wish he was gone shorter and that R&R was longer..
J: I’m not glad that he’s away but I am glad the he’s trying to help us be safe. I love my Dad and I’m proud of him. I’m glad that he’s a soldier because he’s not just helping us he is helping a lot of other people too.
H: He gets the bad guys.
LIFT: What do you like about being in a military family?
E: I like that we get to go all sorts of places and I get to make a lot of friends everywhere we go.
J: I like being a military family because we get to go to cool shows where we see big tanks and guns. I like going to my Daddy’s different graduations and seeing all the cool Army stuff he does.
H: I liked that time we went to the big Museum together. (The National Infantry Museum in Ft. Benning.) I want to go there again.
LIFT: What do you dislike about being in a military family?
E: Moving a lot is hard, and that Dad has to be gone so long.
J: I don’t like it because sometimes my Dad has to go away and that’s always hard. But we’ve gotten better about it cause it’s happened more and more, and its not like the first time that he’s leaving.
H: My Daddy leaves sometimes and I don’t like that at all.
LIFT: Describe what it’s like to move to a new place.
E: It’s fun! I like spending a lot of time in the car with my family, driving through new places. We always have fun when we are together. I like walking in to an empty house and going around finding all the rooms and deciding which one is mine. I do like going to a new school and I don’t at the same time. I like it because it’s exciting and new, but I don’t like it because I miss my old schools too. I’ve been to 5 different schools, so that is kind of hard.
J: I’m excited but it’s a little bit strange because I don’t know where we are going to move or what it will be like. When we moved to our house that we live in now it was exciting and me and my brother looked all around the house and asked where our room would be. It’s even more exciting to start a new school because we get to meet more people that we don’t know. I really like making new friends! I like where we live now because there aren’t mosquitoes like where we lived before and here we get lots of snow.
H: It was really happy because there are snow days here. I like sledding!
After Lora, the children’s mother, was interviewed by LIFT, she asked if LIFT would be interested in knowing what her children would say about their experience. The answer, of course, was “Yes.”
Lora had planned to only approach her two older boys with the questions, but her daughter felt left out, she said. “So I interviewed her, too.”
Lora explains why she wanted to ask her children interview questions, and what the process was like:
“I know that being in an Army Family impacts them differently than it does myself or my husband. I know having a deployed Dad has changed them, and has shaped their world. But it can be hard to really know how much, and how deeply this lifestyle has impacted them. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to ask, and to try and understand.
“They were all excited to get started, but by the third question they had tears in their eyes. It was so hard to talk about their Dad. People need to know how much my kids, and all military kids, are sacrificing for our country.”
Follow Lora’s blog, My Camo Kids.
Thank you Lora, E., J., and H.
[*Update: The kids’ father returned from Iraq in mid March. Read the homecoming story at Lora’s blog.]