*I wrote this one a while back, but thought it could come in handy for new parents.
I know that a lot of us are dealing with deployments and/or getting ready for the next goodbye. I wanted to tell you about my favorite deployment item for my children. This is the greatest thing for younger kids while their dad is deployed.
It is called, “The Wish Bear”.
My husband and I struggled with our first 2 deployments. Like most parents know, when Dad leaves it is hard on your kids. This in return makes it hard for your husband and yourself. We do the videos of dad reading books, and the kids get half way boxes made by Dad that “show up” on half way night…..the kids are happy and great, but bedtime just wasn’t the same without him. We have always had bed time rituals. And bed time was never a problem until Dad wasn’t there. There is nothing harder for a Mom than when your child needs something that you can’t give them . . . in this case, their Dad. So, I used my milspouse creative thinking and came up with an idea.
I call it the “Wish Bear”, and this is how it works!!
Dad went out and bought the kids a “special” bear. They just happen to be Navy bears, of course! He waited until bedtime to give each child their own special bear from him. He took the time to talk to them about how much he misses them and “wishes” that he could get to talk to them and see them everyday. He then told them that the submarine doesn’t have a phone cord long enough to reach the shore and that he has to stay under the water, so he can’t come up to see them either. But, here is the good part. He then explains that all they have to do is “wish” to get love from dad by hugging their bear. And he (Dad) would send them something special that night while they were asleep. Both the kids were a little confused the first night, but when they woke up, they were the happiest I have ever seen them during a patrol. They woke up to find a simple folded piece of paper under their pillows with a drawing on it signed by Dad. Every night after, they would say their prayers and I could hear them telling their “wish bears” how much they missed their Dad . . . every morning a new picture was there. My son was only 5 when we started this….I remember how he came running into my room and shouted, “Mommy! Mommy! Daddy sent me mail from his boat under the water and it’s not even WET!” It was amazing. He was so happy, and the bad thoughts of patrols and Dad being gone were quickly replaced with excitement and happiness.
Now, my son is nine and knows that it isn’t “magic”, but my husband still writes him notes instead of pictures and I place them by his pillow at night. He keeps quiet about his ” intelligence” , so that his little sister who is six still believes that when she makes a wish, her daddy hears it and sends her “love”. So, yes, my husband would draw simple pictures and/or write notes. He would do it before he left…sometimes making copies…or using pictures he found off the web. He let them know that it would only work if they went to sleep at night thinking about all the fun stuff that they would do when he got home. I would slip the pictures under their pillow every night…It really isn’t time consuming at all. It has been worth every moment. I of course have had to make a few pictures myself for Dad if I ran out, and every once in a while I would forget to put them under their pillow and have to tell them that they must have “lost” the note in their covers….as I so quickly get a note/picture and slip it in their bed as we looked!
This is something that I have shared with many wives who have tried it and loved it. You can get creative and use a piece of candy, gum, or small gift, etc. The kids would even draw pictures for Dad and put them under the pillow, which I would collect and put in a folder for my husband. When he came home, he’d get the folder, stick it in his sea bag and call the kids to our room where he would pull it out and tell them thank you for the great pictures they sent to him!! They ate it up!! I hope that this makes someone’s patrol a little better! We have done this for years . . . My son still keeps his bear with him and the greatest part is that it works where ever you are!