Monday, March 12, 2012
Deployment Brain, Kids' View
I think my heart just broke a little bit. The below paragraph is from my Little G, and came after I showed her a website for younger children whose parents were deployed.
"Kids my age, we don’t need all that stuff. We can just deal. We try NOT to think about the deployment, because it makes us sad. You mentioned deployment brain? If you notice sometimes you’ll explain things and I’ll seem to be listening and I’ll say “sure, okay” and then a few minutes later I won’t have any idea what you’ve said— it’s because I’m zoning out, trying NOT to think about the deployment."
I think of her as my little stoic one. When she was four or five, she had to have several shots all at once. She only let one tear slip silently down her cheek, and that one tear had the nurse nearly in tears himself. When she was 6 or 7, we had her tested for allergies to see if we could control her asthma by knowing what triggered it. She had something like 15-20 little pricks on her back. No tears, just "this has to be done".
Sometimes with kids, it is too easy to think they are adjusting well and having an easy time of it. Sometimes it is too easy to think the same thing others mistakenly say to us-- We're "used to it".
Just because we don't see them crying, doesn't mean they don't weep.
Just because we don't see their fear, doesn't mean they are not afraid.
Just because they don't constantly talk about their parent, doesn't mean they don't miss them.
And I, for one, am glad of the reminder. There are many resources for kids whose parents are deployed. There are camps, there are marvelous "Mock Deployments" where they have out-briefs and road marches, there are special events. But when kids have been through multiple deployments and they are "used to it", what's out there? What do you do?
I think... I could be wrong, but I think we do the same things we would want for ourselves. A funny note in the mail. Activities to keep us busy, but not exhausted. Good food, adequate rest, and lots of friends who love us.
Thank you, Little (stoic) G, for the reminder tonight that there is much below the surface. While this post is about kids who are going through deployments, I think it stands as a reminder for anyone whose kids are going through a rough time. We may not see what is going on. We may not always hear directly from the kids what they feel and think about their experience. We may even tell ourselves the greatest lie of my generation "kids are resilient". But we must, absolutely must, remember that they are just children and we are shaping and forming the adults they will become.
Keep talking. Keep listening. Keep asking them what they need from us.