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A peek into a military child’s heart through play

I love talking with my son. Through the entire age of 5, having conversations with him has been absolutely amazing to me. Small conversations often provide great insight into how his mind and heart are developing.


One day, we were hanging out and putting together a large floor puzzle when he innocently asked me if I had ever walked on rainbows. Where this conversation ended up, though, took me completely by surprise.

I had no idea he was thinking of his daddy and the deployment at the start of the conversation. The entire day was calm, and had gone without much mention of his dad. I’d like to replay our conversation for you.

Logan playing with floor puzzleLogan: Mom, did you ever walk on a rainbow when you were a kid like me?

Me: No sweetie, I never did.

Logan: Well, you should have. I’m going to walk on a rainbow.

Me: Are you really? I think that’s awesome! I bet it’s lots of fun.

Logan: I bet it is too, Momma. Do you think they are squishy to walk on?

Me: I have always thought they looked a little slippery.

Logan: Hmmm. No, I am really sure they are squishy, Momma. And you know what? I know that when I walk on a rainbow it will take me to see my daddy — wherever he is.

Choking back the tears

Bam! And there it is, completely surprising me out of left field. This is one of those mommy moments where I choke up, and feel almost as though I might crumble. My heart is slightly crumbling for my boy because I know he’s obviously missing his dad. But he’s not really reflecting sadness, and I know I need to keep it together to be strong and supportive for my son in this moment.

So, I swallow, take a deep breath, smile and say, “I think that’s exactly right.”

Making time for play

All that day and the day prior, Logan had been asking me to build that puzzle with him. Raising three kids alone isn’t easy, and his twin sisters often suck a lot of time and energy out of me. I hate to admit it, but all too often my responses were, “OK honey, let me just finish this project/laundry/dishes,” or “Sweetie, Momma’s so tired right now, can we do it tomorrow?”

This time when he asked to put this puzzle together, in my mind I wanted to give him the brush off again. I needed to get the kitchen cleaned up, and he needed to hop in the bath. However, his eyes melted all of that away in seconds, and I conceded to his request.

I almost missed this moment with him. And since then I have learned that these moments of play are my magical key to unlocking some of these little secrets in his heart. He had probably been thinking of — and missing — his daddy all day. I had no idea, and wouldn’t have, had I not stopped and played with him.

Image credit: Laura Crawford

More about military families

Our magical door to communication during deployment
One event at a time: Countdown to the end of deployment
The importance of routine after deployment

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