A while back I was on my way home from dropping a kid at dance/tae kwon do/volleyball/soccer and heard a blip for a nonprofit that organizes letters and care packages for American forces abroad. I’d been contemplating “adopting” a soldier for a while; my children often seem oblivious to anything outside our suburban bubble and could seriously use an injection of patriotism.
So I went to the group’s website, filled out the application and received a phone call from a delightful elderly lady about a week later. She assigned us two troops, both stationed in Afghanistan, and explained the rules and expectations. Basically we needed to write once a week, send a care package once a month, and not divulge classified material or include porn. Done! I added the letter-writing to the chore chart and shared the news with the kids. They were less than thrilled.
“This is stupid!”; “They don’t care about our lives!”; “What do I even say?” Jeeze! Could they be anymore bratty? I suggested they talk about the Super Bowl, college basketball, their hobbies, the weather, how mean their mom is for making them do this. “It doesn’t matter what you write! Just let them know we are thinking of them.”
Hindering my cause was the fact that we never knew if our notes and “survival essentials” of National Enquirer, Skippy peanut butter and Axe deodorant were arriving. The lady had said the guys may not be able to write back, especially if they were running mountain ops, but she encouraged us to keep up the support. If nothing was returned, we could rest assured they were getting “the goods.”
Then just the other day, two months after our adoptions, three letters arrived from one of our troops, thanking the kids profusely for their efforts. He said he truly looked forward to his weekly “update.” We learned about his young daughter and that he’d be missing the birth of his second; that he’s a Broncos fan and hates the Patriots; and that he couldn’t wait to hear about my Family Feud audition.
Finally, my kids understood. This isn’t about adding an extra chore to their lists. This is about making a personal connection with a young man who is making sacrifices for them every single day, and about getting the chance to say “Thank you.”
We hope to hear from our other troop soon, but even if we don’t, it’s all good. I’ve already noticed a change in how my children view military personnel, and how they pay a little more attention to the news. “Write Letters” remains on the chart, but I’d argue my kids don’t see it as a chore anymore. Mission accomplished! Peace out.