By Anita Doberman: CNJ columnist
I fully expected my children to be ecstatic when we put on a recording my husband sent from Iraq. But I was surprised by my 4-year-old daughter’s reaction.
We received hubby’s DVD through a program called “United Through Reading,” sponsored by The United Service Organizations and the Family Literacy Foundation. The deployed military member visits a USO center and the staff records him or her reading a story, and then the story book and the DVD are mailed.
My husband told me he was using this program, so when the package arrived, I made a big fuss about daddy having sent a special DVD for us.
When I started the recording, all the kids were close to the computer screen and seemed mesmerized. But kids will be kids, and a few seconds into the story, the younger ones, ages 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 — after trying to touch the screen with their little fingers and being told “no” several times — got tired and moved around looking for something new that could entertain them.
A minute or two later, my oldest daughter and my 5-year-old also started looking for other things to do.
Surprisingly, my 4-year-old stayed glued to the monitor for the whole recording.
At the end, she asked me: “Is this a real daddy, mommy? Our real daddy?”
Me: “I am not sure what you mean, sweetie. This is daddy; he recorded a video and sent it to us. It’s your daddy.”
My daughter, with escalating frustration in her voice: “I don’t want this daddy; I want the real one — that one that was here before, and I don’t want the computer daddy.” Now she was crying, “Is the real one coming back?”
I thought her confusion was revealing about how tough it is for young children to understand the concept of time, an interactive image versus a recording, and the feelings associated with the absence of a parent, such as separation, fear of abandonment and resentment.
As parents, it’s important to acknowledge their feelings and the sacrifices they make. April is the Month of the Military Child, and it’s a great reminder of how precious our little ones are.
This week, I also had my own little experiment with technology, trying to feel more connected through the Web.
With my new Web site, totalmomsolutions.com or anitadoberman.com, I tried to upload some videos, not only for my work, but in the hope that my husband and family overseas would enjoy seeing them. I had to resort to a professional when at 2 a.m., the videos were still not in the right place and everything else on the Web site was out of place.
Oh well, I can’t really put my children on video right now, but I can certainly acknowledge all the cute little things they do and be thankful for the many wonders of technology.
Anita Doberman is a freelance writer, mother of five and wife of an Air Force pilot stationed at Hurlburt AFB in Florida. Contact her at: