April 2, 2014 by comhomflt
My dad has always traveled frequently for business, often for two to three weeks at a time and sometimes for more than a month. When we were younger, we kept the dad from the old fisher-price Little People family handy for when our real dad was gone, and this “dad” filled his shoes on all sorts of outings. I wasn’t surprised, then, to discover in my reading that military families often resort to a similar strategy to help their children cope with the absence of a parent during deployment. There are even companies out there who specialize in making these stand-in parents, and they offer them in a variety of forms and in all different sizes. While these “dads” (or “moms”) can’t offer affection and interaction like a real parent can, they can help a very young child not to forget their deployed parent, and they give the rest of the family a fun way to include the absent parent in family outings by taking pictures with the stand-in to send overseas.
To my LT and I, it sounded like a good plan, and we purchased a G.I. Joe, complete with full battle rattle, to be his stand-in while he was away. Unbeknownst to the kidlets, this G.I. Daddy, as he was renamed, was stashed in the stroller basket the morning of departure; and he made his appearance in the heart-wrenching aftermath of the airport good-byes. Of course, there were immediate fights over who would carry him and for how long, but having him immediately lifted their spirits. They wasted no time in including him in family life by feeding him sips of their post-send-off Coolattas. He has since been to all sorts of places and enjoyed everything from a Pennsylvania hoagie to some Rhode Island chowdah and clam cakes. He’s even been decorated for St. Patty’s Day in a way the real dad would never permit.
When he’s not out gallivanting with us, he’s at his watch station on the red shelf in our living room, where he is safe from the ravages of our little Seaman.
G.I. Daddy doesn’t look quite the same as the real daddy, especially since he wears an Army uniform (sacrilege, I know), but I can say I’d rather run into him than our real daddy if I were the enemy! The real daddy might not possess the, um, ridiculously muscular appearance and battle scars that G.I. Daddy does, but he did post the highest score for the pistol quals on range day. Take a look at his target; the bad guys don’t stand a chance!And, of course, we miss the real daddy so much! He does look pretty awesome in his battle rattle, though, don’t you think? It’s kind of hard to believe this is the same guy who makes us poached eggs, helps with baths, plays games, and gives snuggles. We love you!