It’s April – Month of the Military Child – when we thank the children whose parents are serving in our volunteer armed forces. We recognize them for the sacrifices they are forced to make as children whose parents are frequently called to duty far, far from home, for extended periods of time. It’s a month to do special things FOR them and to honor them somehow. I’m blessed, as a military veteran and children’s book author, to be part of these very special celebrations in schools on military bases.
I was invited to Naval Air Station Lemoore Thursday to present two assemblies and three 4th grade classroom visits at RJ Neutra Elementary School, serving 520 children of Navy personnel. Greeting me in the multi-use room, decorating the walls, were eight colorful banners filled with children’s art inspired by my books. The many original patch designs created by the students (using template from my first book) will have me smiling for a LONG time. They celebrate a parent’s service; they express love and joy.
Here’s a photo of a favorite patch at the school! Just look at the detailed artwork!!
The memories I will take away with me from this day filled with hugs from grateful children are MANY. Here are a few highlights:
During the assembly I shared photographs of my squad during our military survival training week in the Colville Forest of Washington State. I shared details of the kinds of things we survived on that week: black ants that taste like lemon drops found in rotted logs, earthworms, edible plants, a rabbit. I shared how we caught a deer with a large-game snare to enjoy our best source of protein that week. I was quite surprised that these kids were so fascinated by these survival training stories!
During the afternoon classroom visits with three different groups of 4th graders, in addition to asking lots of questions about how to write and publish books, the process of writing and working with other people, and talking about aviation, aerial refueling and the training involved, I got many questions about the survival training and the eating of insects and such. It came up over and over again. It was hilarious – the questions were awesome:
- Did you find any lizards out there?
- You said it’s important to take off the heads of the ants before eating them so they don’t bite your esophagus on the way down. Did that happen to you?
- You said that you should eat earthworms whole (and not chew them because you’ll get dirt in your teeth) but won’t they bite you on the way down like the ants?
I also got questions about how long does it take to write the book? Is it hard to write a book? Who drew all the pictures? I loved it all…all the wonder and curiosity in their eyes and voices!
While pulling my wagon filled with my flight suits and books through the hallways after lunch, I was stopped several times by inquisitive children. The same thing happened at the end of the school day as I walked to my car.
One little red-headed girl was so excited that she had just received an embroidered patch of my first book (the school staff purchased three Teacher Packs for students.) She said, “I just have to give you a hug to say thanks for coming to my school!”
Another girl simply wanted to tell me that she thought I was pretty, something that frankly I’ve NEVER been told at a school visit before. LOL! Several boys wanted to know more about how hard it was to fly and one asked if I had ever thrown up in an airplane. (I haven’t.)
Then there was the little boy who stopped me to tell me that his father has been deployed to Bahrain for over 5 months and he really misses him.
A fourth grader in one of the classrooms shared that he’s barely seen his father the last four years because “he comes home, is home for a few weeks and then deploys again.” I asked what his father did and he answered proudly, “My daddy flies F-18s.”
Such is the nature of serving children whose parents are in our active-duty military forces. All I could do for the children was offer hugs which they gladly took me up on. They’re all such loving kids there – a truly special school culture has been created by the devoted staff.
As I drove two hours north to Turlock for an evening event at a middle school (will be my next blog post), I reflected on this. To be asked questions about my military aviation service and survival training which I did in my previous life AND to be asked many questions about how to publish books, how to write books in two languages and how to become an author who wins awards….which is my current life ….all of it together – it is simply a HUGE blessing. I was filled with gratitude and am still floating as I think of it all.
What a wonderful way to celebrate April Month of the Military Child! There’s a lot more of April left. Please let me know if I can be of service at your school in person or via Skype or Google Hangouts. Please call (510) 542-9449 to inquire about getting me to a school near you – in person OR remotely. Read numerous testimonials from teachers HERE.
Are you on Facebook? If so, I’ve posted more photos of children’s artwork and the assembly HERE.
Thank you for supporting my work. Visit www.CaptainMama.com to learn MUCH more about this award-winning bilingual, children’s picture book series we’re creating to take children’s into fascinating airplanes, nations and technical careers…while seeing the world as I was blessed to do while serving in the U.S. Air Force.