14 February 2010

Daddy's Little Sunshine Patriot

"Daddy?" Five-year-old Lena is in the backseat of a heater-less car, along with her little brother Rain. It has snowed another 5 inches overnight, and winds are expected to gust up to 22 mph later in the day. It is below zero, it is windy, and I am grumpy. I have forgotten my Gore-Tex parka, the topmost layer to my Army cold-weather personal clothing system. The wind is cutting through my "black-bear" fleece jacket. I want nothing more than to drop the kids at daycare, and to drop my 13-year-old frozen-brick of a station wagon one of two places: At the dealer, or off the side of a cliff. Whichever comes first.

"What, Lena?"

"Thank you for ... pro-tec-ting ... our country."

Her comment comes completely out of the blue, on this day that there is no sky. I instantly go from partly cloudy to 80-percent chance of precipitation. I feel weepy, and have to take a couple of breaths before I can reply with a halfway steady voice:

"Thank you, Lena. That was very nice."

I am searching for words. I'd like to give her a hug--right NOW--but we're both safely belted in and on the move. With my hands on the steering wheel, I can feel the teachable, reinforceable moment slipping out of my grasp ...

"Lena? Could you do me a favor? If you see Elam's dad or Sammy's mom at daycare, you should tell them that, too? In fact, if you ever see someone wearing a uniform--particularly one with an American flag on it--I don't care whether they're a soldier or a sailor, or an police officer or ambulance driver, could you tell them the same thing?"

"Yes, daddy."

That's my girl!


  1. Out of the mouths of babes.

    Thank you.

  2. I'll second that.

    Oh, and Sherpa?? Let us reiterate what your ever so smart for her age daughter said...Thank you for pro-tec-ting our country and us. We <3 all of you guys.


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