When Daddy goes to war
By Sophie Roth-Douquet
I'm a twelve-year old girl. My Dad is in the Marine Corps. Eight months ago, my dad was deployed to Kabul, which is the capital of Afghanistan. This is his third combat deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan, but this is the first time I've been old enough to actually realize what's happening.
My mom says that the first time my dad deployed, when I was three, I came up with lots of ideas to catch Saddam Hussein so that my Dad could come home sooner. An example of this was my idea to sneak up on Saddam and scream really loud so that he would fall down, then the Marines could capture him. The second time my dad deployed, my brother was three, and he'd wake up at night and go walking around the house calling for his Daddy. He never really understood that he wouldn't find him.
People sometimes wonder what it's like to be a military child. Sometimes it's easier, more fun than others. One of the worst times for me was last fall. I came home from swimming, and my mom told me she had to tell me something. She led me in and we sat down on the couch. I was a little bewildered, my first thought was that I was in trouble, but my mom reassured me it wasn't that.
The news that came out of my mom's mouth was unexpected. My dad was getting deployed and would be gone a year. He would be leaving in seven days! I couldn't believe it. Pretty soon, I was crying hysterically. Tears were streaming down my face. I was repeating over and over again, "He can't go, He can't go." I was eleven then; it meant when he came back, I'd be twelve. We had a new puppy, it would be a full grown dog.
My brother was only seven. A year is so long for a seven year old. It made me more upset to see my brother: After my mom told him, he was just playing video games and laughing with his friends. It made me so angry.
The actual deployment was easier than I expected. By the time it had sunk in that my dad was gone, I'd gotten used to it. The worst thing about my dad being gone is realizing that as hard as I try, I remember less and less about him. Even though we see him on Skype, sometimes he seems like a memory, and that's a little scary.
Some of the things that make me feel better when I miss my dad are: playing with my puppy, cooking, and reading. It was also fun to go to Disney World with friends during Thanksgiving.
Even though it's hard to have my dad gone, I don't want him to stop being in the Marine Corps. Even though bad things happen. I had a friend once whose dad was killed in Iraq. And a family who used to live in our neighborhood lost their dad in a helicopter crash. It's hard when these things happen, but it's rare. Our life has a lot of good in it too -- travel, new people, and feeling proud of ourselves for what we do.
I think it's great that when people think about the troops, they'll think about the ones that died, like my friend's dad and our neighbor, and maybe they'll think about people like my dad too, far away and giving up being with us to do his job. Maybe they'll even think about me, and kids like me, who serve in our own way, and that would be good for everyone.
Sophie is a sixth grader. Her mother, Kathy Roth-Douquet, is the co-founder of Blue Star Families.
| June 11, 2010; 9:39 AM ET
Tags: Blue Star Families, Kathy Roth-Douquet, Sophie Douquet
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