Some of them, less so.
And then, there is the wonder and joy of being able to reintegrate with your children.
Melissa's husband David has been learning the ways of adjusting, and the ways of being a father again.
There is beauty in it, and adventure.
And a fair measure of healing.
It has been 8 months since I was medically retired from the Army. I have become a full time stay at home dad, and love it each day. To quote Liam Nisen in the movie Taken, “I possess a unique set of skills” that make me perfect for this job. Being that I was an officer for 7 out of the 13 years I was in the Army, I can create and follow a rigid schedule and ensure that everyone is on time (15 minutes early) for their events.
Although that is an impressive skill, and probably the most useful, my skill set doesn’t stop there. I find myself teaching the kids about all kinds of interesting things when the opportunity arises. Example - It snowed a few feet, so we stopped the snowball fight and I showed them how to build a snow cave as a cold weather survival shelter. Complete with camouflage and intersecting fields of view (they really were quite warm once we covered the ground inside with some pine needles).
My son saved for weeks to buy a battery powered Nerf Gatlin gun. When he took it out of the package and started shooting it, I was impressed at the range and accuracy of his new weapon. After firing it a few times he came to me with a problem. “Daddy, this gun is awesome, but I use most of the darts trying to aim at my targets before I actually hit them.” Lucky for him, I know a thing or two about belt fed automatic weapons. We had already covered loading/unloading, and clearing procedures, so I moved on to firing techniques. When we finished, he understood his problem was because he wasn’t using his first round as a sensing round to gauge where the rest of the rounds would hit. Now he is a pro, and even hit a squirrel as it ran up a tree (the squirrel was not harmed). It brought a smile to my face to see how quickly he learned.
But I’m not so sure that a 10 year old with an in depth knowledge of machine gun theory is the most well rounded child. So after that block of instruction I took a step back to decide if what I have done is mentally damaging. I decided to lay off the application of real world knowledge and let him use his toy guns as toys - until my son and daughter ambushed me in our hallway.
I was walking down the hallway, minding my own business, when I start taking fire from two sides of the hall. When the volley of fire ended, I was furious. Not because they ambushed me, but because they were on opposite sides of the hallway and were aiming at one another while they tried to shoot me. This was a teachable moment, so I seized the opportunity and sat them down in front of a white board and covered the basics of an ambush. When we were finished they decided that a linear ambush would have worked best, and even demonstrated on me when I went outside to do some yard work.
I’m still trying to figure out how my new life as a stay at home dad fits in with my old life as a Soldier. Some things from my past apply, but most are just useless facts that pop up when I criticize a TV show. I confuse myself sometimes though because I can’t figure out if I’m a has-been Soldier, or the most bad-ass stay at home dad around.
It makes me feel better to think I am the latter.