I’ve gotten this question a few times throughout the year so I guess it’s time I answered it yeah?
“How did you keep Sam fresh on Bud’s mind and memory while he was deployed?”
So there are a few things and some are pretty obvious.
1. I talked about him all the time. I realize Bud didn’t have the cognitive ability to connect who Dada was at that young age but I’d always accompany it with a picture. I’d show him a picture and say, “Your Dada would love that!” or “Your Dada would be so proud right now!”
2. We Skyped whenever we could. I think this helped towards the end when Bud’s cognition got a little more mature. It at least helped him hear his voice, put a face with it, and let him interact. Sam was in a really remote area with terrible communication so it was pretty infrequent but we probably got to do it once every two weeks or so.
3. We recorded Sam reading Bud’s favorite books on video before he left and Bud and I would watch those often. We also bought one of those Hallmark recordable books so Bud could listen to his voice whenever he wanted to.
4. The USO does this awesome thing while soldiers are laid over during travel. They record this reading Dr. Seuss books (or any of your choice) and then mails it to the family. So we got two DVDs of Sam reading books to Bud and they are still some of Bud’s favorite books because he would get so excited to see Dada on the TV reading to him.
5. Now, Daddydolls makes these dolls that look like the soldiers and I think you can even record their voice but Sam was afraid Bud would think he magically turned into a doll soooooooooo we didn’t do this but I know if families who have had great success with these. There are tons of companies who do similar things as well as other ideas to help families through deployments. If you research, there are so many organizations out there I had no idea about!
6. And lastly, I made a storybook through Shutterfly about Sam that Bud and I would read every day. It was a story about how him and woodland creatures and basically how his Dada was a badass and was keeping the world safe for him to live in. It had tons of pictures of the two of them and to this day, Bud asks for us to read him his “Daddy Book”.