It looked like an alien. But the green box with arms, legs and smaller square “medals” peppering its upper body was actually a “Veteran.” My first grader corrected me as he carefully finished drawing the soldier on a thank you card for a school project.
“Do you know any Veterans, mommy?”
You learn a lot when you become a parent. Most of it isn’t pretty. Especially when your kids make you realize you dropped the ball.
Forgot to pack lunch…again. [Check] Conner’s birthday party was actually last Saturday. [Sorry buddy] Realizing it’s pajama day at school…after morning drop off. [$%@!]
But this ball fell hard. The answer is yes. But the military, and those we know who have or are still serving, isn’t something I openly talk about with my three small children.
My son will never meet his Great Uncle Harold, who he looks so much like, because he died after exposure to Agent Orange when I was just 10. Another soft-spoken Great Uncle was a P.O.W. for eight years. He did a better job connecting with guests and filming my wedding then the videographers I hired. Though, Ryker does know that Papa Don was in the Air Force. He’s seen pictures and loves all the airplane toys in his basement.
While teachers do an incredible job opening the eyes of our children, it’s our job as parents to follow through.
But talking about war and our safety and “the bad guys” who are far more evil than Lord Garmadon on Lego Ninjago is really hard as a parent. Because I want my kids to feel safe.
So, as we head into what I believe should be the most appreciated holiday, here are a few not-so-scary, tangible ways to help your family celebrate Veteran’s Day.
Because, puppies. This organization provides assistance dogs to help those who have served our country live independently. One of the things I love about their site is how they illustrate the action your donation will take. For example, $25 provides a special leash. Or, $50 provides a dog two months worth of food. It’s easy to explain how it works to your kid, plus the images and videos are incredibly uplifting (and will cause ugly crying).
Ryker and I just dropped off candy to a site for this operation’s leftover Halloween candy drive. While this event is finishing up, you can click here for a wish list of items to send to deployed troops. Things like gum, chap stick, even Beanie Babies are small—but incredibly needed—items that your kid can help purchase and pack up.
Write a thank you card. Contact a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility close to your home. Chances are you drive by one on your way to the grocery store. Call to ask if you can drop off homemade cards for Veterans. As annoying as my kids are, other people find them quite adorable. You don’t have to visit on the actual holiday. Veterans love getting misspelled, stick figure cards year round!
Attend an event. What I love about Cleveland is the small town feel of our suburbs. We are attending a Veteran’s service on Saturday in our tiny community. Grab an event calendar from your local City Hall or visit the event page on your city’s website. Some suburbs even have parades.
One of the better things about being a parent is learning from your mistakes and adjusting your approach. Lucky for me, Ryker is my first. I have two other kids to nail down this motherhood thing.
What are some ways you are saying thanks this Veteran’s Day?