On Thursday I asked my 4th graders to briefly describe to each other the imaginary Pilgrims (protagonists for works of historical fiction they will soon be writing) they had created the day before. Figuring it would be fun I decided to record and podcast these little character descriptions. You can listen to all of them on our blog, but here are a few that are especially delightful.
Elizabeth Ann Button
Charlotte Anne Clarke
Here are several posts describing what we’ve done so far:
This isn’t the first time I’ve taken care of the kids while my husband has been away for extended periods of time, but it’s our longest deployment yet. (We have been lucky — other military families have endured multiple 12-to-19-month deployment cycles since the Iraq war began.) Our Pacific Northwest town has a significant military population, and most of the people I have met here are women whose husbands are also service members. Because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a relentless schedule keeps many of the squadrons away from home. So we military moms talk often about ways to help our kids cope with their dads’ long absences. We trade names of psychologists. We exchange tips that may ease our kids’ nightmares, regressions and depression. But what I wanted, more than any of those things, was a book.
Kids’ books on deployment are becoming more prevalent as the war drags on; these stories, often self-published or from small publishing houses, try to explain to the 2-to-5-year-old set why Dad must help children overseas instead of staying home to play with them. I have always found comfort in literature, in the power of a shared experience to bring consolation during difficult times. So I prompted other military moms for authors’ names. I haunted the aisles of local shops and spent hours online. I borrowed other families’ deployment-related books and lent out my own. I amassed quite a children’s library — a heartbreak hotel of titles I wouldn’t wish on anyone. The books I found are well-meaning, almost painfully sincere in their effort to address a child’s fears and feelings. They end in joyful homecomings.
But talking to a kid about deployment is like talking to a kid about God: Every parent has his or her own approach. And I couldn’t find one single children’s book on deployment that I could read without cringing.