By Anita Doberman
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 the DVD through a program called “United Through Reading.” 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 back home.
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. I encouraged my children to be excited, mostly by being very excited myself.
When I started the recording, all the kids were very close to the computer screen and seemed mesmerized. But a few seconds into the story, the younger ones, ages 1-1/2 and 2-1/2 — 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.
As parents, it’s important to acknowledge their feelings. 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.
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 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: