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Army Brats - Military Children
Flag Day at Fort Bliss
Flag Day at Fort Bliss
Living amongst us are highly organized people. I admire these people. On many days I envy their stress free existence. Imagine picking up the car keys, buckling happy children into their seats, and driving directly to their destination. Snacks and drinks are nicely packed. Required gear is in the bag and in the van.
I have never, not one time, experienced this dream life. Though I never give up striving for a goal of a prepared activity. I never give up hope. Reality suggests that such an experience will never happen.
It is Flag Day at Fort Bliss. Yes, even birthday cake to celebrate the Army's birthday. No, there will not be a piñata. No, there will not be treat bags. However, Daddy will march in the parade, and a soldier will parachute the flag into the parade grounds. The band will play, also. We love the band.
We actually have two hours before the ceremony is scheduled to begin. I begin the initial scan with a goal of four attractive children on time and perfectly behaved.
"Hannah and Rachel, you need to brush your hair."
"Do you want a pony tail? Where is the detangle spray?"
"I want a bun. You can just put my hair in a bun without brushing it."
Sigh. Bribery? Threats? Cajoling? Holding by force? I give it a little time. I find the detangle spray and the best brush and pony-tail holders. Ninety minutes remain.
"Robert, you need a clean shirt. Alex, do you have on underwear?"
"Mommy lets me not wear underwear."
"If you can't cooperate, then we can't go."
Crumpled face, trudge up the stairs. Perhaps he will find and install underwear, perhaps he will build a tent. He is five.
Let's start with the easiest child first, the three year old. Oh wait, Robert is not the easiest child. He sees me approaching with a clean shirt and runs. Why?
Go back to the hair. Hannah is seven and gifted with lovely, easy to brush hair. Even so we have squeals and jerks but her hair is nice. She wants to wear a dress. Go for it.
Rachel is five and her hair is always a tangled nest.
"Be brave," I say as I cover her hair with detangle spray.
"I'll do it myself."
I hand over the brush.
Robert walks into my path. I snatch him. I am bigger. Ahh, clean shirt and shorts. "Handsome boy."
Check upstairs. "This is not the time to play with Darth Vader."
"You never let me do anything."
Thirty-five minutes remain.
Day-care professional arrives. Always concerned with proper nutrition and health, she packs juice boxes and snacks and the ever-necessary sun-screen. I chase down Rachel's hair, find where she hid the brush (her usual hiding place). We have a bun.
Twenty minutes remain. It is late to start on the final phase. With fear in my voice, I say, "Do we all have our shoes?"
While it is true that all four children have on shoes, I actually meant pairs of shoes. I could hope for appropriate shoes rather than ballet slippers, but my standards are slipping.
Zero minutes remain. We open the door and march forth into a calm, sunny day. The children are beautiful and perfect. I am unsure as to the last time I combed my hair, but it doesn't matter. We walk the four blocks to the parade ground.
Seating areas are set up with awnings. The upside we find sic chairs in a row. We are protected from the sun. The downside is that we cannot see the parachuting soldiers. A soldier announces to remain in our seats just as I stand to find a place to see the sky.
All four children bunch around me to watch the soldiers glide across the cloudless sky and land mere feet from the flag pole. We return to our seats. We find daddy though that is not so easy. We watch the soldiers march. We listen to the band. Then when all is finished, we follow the group to climb into the helicopters.
An extremely successful outing, and I am bursting with pride and love for these quiet, obedient, docile and perfect children.
Even Children Have to Sleep, Don't They?
Why is my heart pounding? Why is my appetite returning? Why am I so happy? Bedtime for the children, that's why.
Bedtime is a process. We began with warnings. "Almost bedtime." Grandma's happy dance.
After "Peppa Pig" is bath time. Dad chases down, rounds up and puts the boys in one tub. Grandma does the same for the girls. We wash hair, we play with the mermaids. We can't get Rachel's arm wet. We stall until Grandma pulls the plug. We find pajamas.
The next step is healthy snacks. Then we brush teeth and floss. Then we pick out our stories. We read each child one book, so actually each child hears four stories. Hannah religiously chooses long books. Dr. Suess is her personal favorite. I go don stairs while dad puts each little body in each little bed.
Does this mean the children are now safely in bed and going to sleep? No, it does not. The front door shuts which means dad is walking the dog.
Undefined whispers. Timid giggles. Running feet.
"I can't sleep."
"Can you lay by me?"
"Robert is playing in the bathroom."
"Alex is scaring me with Darth Vader."
"My tummy hurts."
"Rachel hit me with her cast. Make her sleep in her own bed."
"Can I sleep by you?"
I go upstairs and put the boys back into their beds. I confiscate the two foot tall Darth Vader. I put Rachel and cast into her own bed. Then I lay down by Hannah. Hannah really, really misses her mom and struggles to find sleep.
I say my prayers while looking through the window into the dark street. We have silence. I wait for dad to return with the dog before I slip from my spot beside Hannah and tiptoe down stairs.
Now I can read my own book. Once settled into my room and into my bed with my book in my hand, I find my place. Next thing I know it is morning and the children are up. Really?