He doesn’t cry that often. He learned early that it doesn’t help. His mom consoles him, but nothing changes. He’s learned not to think about his dad. Sometimes, it comes out. Sometimes, when he leasts expects it, when he’s not thinking, when he’s had a really bad day, he whines a little. “I miss him,” and then he regrets it.
It’s especially hard when his Dad calls. Mommy gives him the phone and for a few minutes, he forgets. He forgets he’s really far away, but then Daddy starts talking about things that happened a long time ago. “Remember when you did that great project in science?” Yeah, he remembers. It happened when it was cold outside. It hasn’t been cold in awhile. He doesn’t know why Daddy is talking about that now. He gets bored and gives the phone back to Mommy.
And then he throws his book on the floor and he breaks his Legos and he goes upstairs and throws his pillows on the floor. “What are you doing?” his mom yells.
He doesn’t answer. “What are you doing? Stop that!” His mom is angry. She’s yelling. He screams. He doesn’t know why. He doesn’t like talking to Daddy.
Sometimes his mommy says he acts like his Dad. When he does a hard job around the house, or when he stays calm in an emergency, she says he’s just like Daddy. He likes that. Daddy always says he has to take care of Mommy. He tries to do that. He likes it when she says he’s doing a good job.
Lots of his friends dads go on long trips. But his dad was the only one who missed Christmas this year. Christmas was still fun. Santa came and he got new toys. But he likes it when Daddy decorates the tree because Mommy doesn’t put all the ornaments on. She says it takes too long to take it all down.
He misses when Daddy plays soccer with him in the back yard. He misses driving in Daddy’s car. He misses Daddy at bedtime because he likes to look for Waldo in the Where’s Waldo books, and Mommy doesn’t like that book. She says it hurts her eyes.
He doesn’t tell anyone any of this. Sometimes he asks how much longer the trip will be. He knows it’s not going to be over soon. He doesn’t cry. He learned a long time ago that crying doesn’t make anything change.
He loves Mommy. He loves his sister and his brother. He loves playing with his friends and his toys and watching TV and going to school to see his teacher.
When he wakes up in the morning he doesn’t think about his dad. He doesn’t think about him that often. He wonders if that’s good or bad. Maybe it’s good. Nothing hurts when he doesn’t think about Daddy.
My deepest respect and admiration for all the military children during April, the month of the military child.