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When Daddy goes to war

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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.

By Christian Davenport  | June 11, 2010; 9:39 AM ET
Tags:  Blue Star Families, Kathy Roth-Douquet, Sophie Douquet  
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Comments

Be proud of your father, and your mother, and your brother & yourself. You're 12 and making sacrifices for your country that other people do not have the courage to do.

I may be (by your measure) an old man, but thank you for YOUR sacrifice for people like me.

Posted by: Nymous | June 12, 2010 5:19 AM | Report abuse

Some day you will learn that killing people isn't the way to conduct our lives.

Posted by: since1492 | June 12, 2010 7:32 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry but I don't understand how the subject's mother could be a founder of Blue Star Families. I mean, the first Blue Star families began with our participation in WW I. That's a long time ago.

Posted by: 1234qwer | June 12, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Someday you will learn to smack idiots like 1492.

Perhaps 1492 would like to travel to Waziristan and decide, just before they behead 1492, that violence is sometimes the only option.

Sophie, you rock.

1492, your snivel speaks volumes about liberals: they love the Taliban and hate their own country. While the Taliban will eagerly stone them.

Semper Fi.

Posted by: hhhhhiiiihhhiiiiiiiiiiii | June 12, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm so sorry that your daddy had to go to war so many times and miss out on your early childhood and your brother's.

I work with soldiers who are injured every day and also see the hardship that families endure with these long tours of duty. The soldiers never complain, but I know how much they especially miss their kids. I also see how hard it is for them when children are caught in the cross fire and explosions as they are always thinking about their kids that they have left behind. They always ask themselves; What if that was my child who was hurt or killed by the enemy?" Thank you for sharing your experience with us. When our President and Congress send our soldiers to war, they don't often think about the family left behind until it is too late to do anything about their decisions.

We owe you a great future for all that you have experienced as a young child without your father or mother to support you when you need them the most. God Bless you and your family.

Jerry

Posted by: vajara | June 12, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

What an amazing post from an amazing girl.

1234qwer - You're thinking of the organization Blue Star Mothers.

Blue Star Families is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the entire military family. You can find out more at http://bluestarfam.org.

Posted by: LawyerMama | June 13, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

You are learning very important values for your life. I hope you recognize that people like @hhhhhiiiihhhiiiiiiiiiiii is just a pathetic as the person he criticized. Yes they are both pathetic.

Posted by: shlomiesdad | June 13, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Sophie, I loved what you wrote. I had never thought about how different one deployment must be from another, and how it is different for each of you in your family, each time. The are so many moving parts to the big machine of your world. I imagine it must make you feel like people who don't have family in the military don't understand something fundamental to your life. And it's probably true that we don't. But we should, and your essay helps.

Posted by: farare | June 13, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Sophie, I'm a Major in the US Army with 3 kids and I appreciated your words. I've had to leave my children numerous times for deployments and schools. I can tell you that it is hard for us fathers as well. We love serving our country and don't like having to leave our families, but know that it's something we must do sometimes. With father's day coming up this weekend I don't see it being a day for me, but for more for my kids...without them I wouldn't be a father. Being gone so much, my time with them is even more precious. I can't speak for your father, but I'm sure your father feels the same way and is very proud of you. Take care and God Bless.

Posted by: davidmkirkland | June 18, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

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