My grand-niece, Aleesia Spethman is a bubbly little girl, who loves life. She is going to be in 2nd grade this coming school year. She is the youngest child of her parents, Jenny and Steve Spethman, and the youngest grandchild of her grandma, Cheryl Masterson. She is a girl who is full of personality and energy. She is always on the move, doing something…from playing with her big brothers, Xander, Zack, and Isaac, to showing them who the boss is in this family. The boys humor her for the most part, but she gets a lot less “princess treatment” from the youngest of the boys, Isaac, who thinks maybe he is the boss. Aleesia would disagree.
Aleesia and her mom love to do girly things together. Shopping is a big favorite, because they are both fashionistas. Jenny has great fashion sense, and she has passed that to Aleesia, along with how to be in style, and still be yourself. Being the youngest does afford Aleesia some special treatment. She was the last one home all day with her mom, and being the only girl, eliminates the whole “hand-me-down” thing too.
Last week, Aleesia, Jenny, and Aleesia’s Aunt Liz took girl trip to Denver for Aleesia’s birthday. They got to go to the Denver Zoo and Aquarium. They had a great time watching all the animals. Aleesia loves to go to the Science Zone in Casper. The zoo and aquarium are along the same lines too, so it’s right up her alley. She really isn’t afraid of any animals…even bugs, which make me cringe, so she had a great time checking it all out. She takes after her mom in that respect. Jenny has had just about every kind of animal, including an Iguana…which really creeped me out, because it would appear next to you, when you least expected it…usually scaring the daylights out of you.
Most evenings find Aleesia visiting her grandma, and Cheryl is quite happy about that, because this is her last granddaughter, so she wants to make the most of the time she had left before Aleesia decides that she has other things to do. It is inevitable with all kids. Grandparents have them for a time, and then they are pushed out of the way for friends, sports, and after school activities. Aleesia does enjoy her girl nights, and I have had the opportunity to be a part of her girl gang, which has been great. On Thursday nights, Cheryl, Liz, Aleesia, and I go out to dinner, and then to Cheryl’s for a movie. Aleesia and Liz don’t always go for the movie. Liz has papers to grade, or photos to edit, and Aleesia either has homework, or she just missed her family, and wants to go home. She is a bit of a homebody too. Today is Aleesia’s 7th birthday. Happy birthday Aleesia!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Brian, who is the 14 month old son of my cousin, Alicia and her husband, Jordan, is a curious little boy, not unlike most boys his age. I am always amazed at the things that catch the eye of little kids. Things we adults would most likely never notice, seem somehow special and interesting to them. Add to that, the fact that Brian is a boy, and you will find that the things that will interest him will be the bug, worm, or as in Brian’s case…the toad.
While taking in some fresh air and sunshine in their back yard, Brian came upon his first toad. He pointed at it and said, “Mom! This?” Either he was asking her what it was, or wanted her to look at it, and it doesn’t really matter, because it is just the beginning of his boyhood curiosity, and this is a question Alicia will hear over and over again. I told Alicia that her days of finding toads and other such friends in her son’s pants pocket were probably not too far off. It does make me thankful that I had daughters, although my grandsons broke me in on the various items in their pockets and in their hands. Some, I would rather not think about!!!
As I looked at the picture of the toad, my mind went back to when I was a kid. I remember hunting for toads too. And I remember having one that was in a box, but I am quite certain that I would never have picked up that toad, so maybe one of my male cousins put it in the box for me, or maybe my memory is of looking at a toad in a box that belonged to one of my male cousins. Whatever my memory of the toad was, I do remember touching the toad…briefly. Its skin was rough and scratchy. I also remember thinking that it was odd that the toad didn’t try to get away from my touch…almost like they enjoy that touch, like a cat does.
Little Brian is just beginning his years of curiosity about the animal kingdom, and it is my guess that he will have many more memories of that type than I ever did, since I tried very hard to stay as far away from bugs and amphibians as I could. If Brian is the boy I expect that he will be, he will try to be around them much of his young life…until he discovers girls, that is.
Being far away from family, is only one of the many hardships of being in the service. It is strange to think of feeling lonely with so many people around you all the time, but that is just how a soldier feels…probably more than they will ever admit. It doesn’t matter if they are married or single. There are always family members that they miss. We would have a hard time understanding their feelings, even if they are our own family member, because we are not all alone in a foreign country, with enemy fire all around us, wondering if we are ever going to get to go home to our life again, and they are.
A lot of times, these men are on long shifts that seem to never end, and in war situations, their bed can be a hill of dirt, sleeping among the bugs, with one eye open, and carefully listening for the sound of guns or explosives, or more importantly, footsteps. It doesn’t make for an ideal sleeping situation. Yes, they are afraid. Bravery has nothing to do with the lack of fear. Bravery is standing your ground, in spite of the fear. That kind of situation takes its toll on the men and women who find themselves in it, and the need for occasional breaks is vital. Unfortunately, trips home are not aways possible, so when they can they explore the area they find themselves in. Many times, these men will not come this way again, so it can be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Sometimes the area they are stationed is of great interest to them, as it was to my dad. A big part of his ancestry has its roots in England, so being stationed in Great Ashfield, in Suffolk, England, he had the rare opportunity to see where his family came from. I don’t know how much he was able to see of it, but to me, just knowing that my feet might have walked in some of the same places as so many of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, would be awe inspiring.
When we think of our soldiers, we get a picture of a man in camouflage, holding a gun, and taking cover behind whatever shelter they can find. We see them as fearless, brave and courageous. We never picture the man behind that facade. The man with hopes and dreams for the future. The man with loved ones who are constantly on their minds. The man who wants to do his duty, because he knows it is necessary, but beyond that, he just wants to go back home to his family…to kiss his wife and kids, or marry and have a family to love, and to return to his parents and family, who can’t help but jump every time there is a knock on the door…praying that it isn’t men in uniform, who are there to tell them that they have lost something of great value to them…son, daughter, husband, or wife. He just wants to make it home.
There is so much heaviness on the hearts of these men, and no way to change what is. It brings a great need for some down time. You can’t continue on, and do a good job, without it the ability to set aside the stress and fear of combat, for a just little bit of fun to take your mind off of it. So, the men and women, our soldiers, look to the countryside that they find themselves in, hoping to find a smile or two, and something to smile about. They do the fun things they can find so that after a time of rest and relaxation, they can go back and do their duty once again.
My parents had 5 daughters…and no sons. I’m sure that the early years were the same as they are in most homes, but with each additional daughter came a little less control for my dad. Now don’t get me wrong on that word control, because my dad was the boss. If we got to be too exasperating for Mom, her big threat was Dad, and while Dad rarely had to spank us, just knowing that he would was enough to make is behave ourselves.
The type of control I’m talking about is a little different. Being the only man in a houseful of women, especially when there are 5 daughters, means being seriously outnumbered. Imagine vying for the bathroom…and we had only 1 by the way…against 5 teen and preteen aged girls trying to get ready for school. I’m sure you get the picture. If Dad wanted a shower, he had better get it before 5:00 am, or he was most likely out of luck. And if he needed to use the bathroom…well, it might be easier to go somewhere else, or should I say quicker.
These kinds of things continued for most of Dad’s life. He always had to be the one to kill the bugs…especially the moths, which put his little princesses into screaming fits, instantly. We made him get up in the middle of the night while camping to “put another log on the fire” to keep the bears away…never mind the fact that we were inside, and the bears couldn’t get us anyway. I’m quite sure he watched more chick flicks than he ever wanted to as well. Nevertheless, Dad took it all in stride, allowing his girls to feel like princesses…with chores, of course…but still princesses. He gave in to the girlie side of his girls, and probably spoiled us pretty good. The house was filled with dolls and kitchen sets, tea sets, and cribs…all the things we needed to play house.
Later came the waiting on us to finally get ready so we could go somewhere, because we all know that it is impossible to leave the house without our makeup…and I mean it!! Dad knew quite well, that he might just as well sit down and read the paper, because he would have time to read the whole thing. I am reminded of the Brad Paisley song, “Waitin’ On A Woman” when I think of all the times my dad waited patiently for his girls to all get ready.
When there is one person, male or female, who happens to be the only person of that gender in their household, and they find themselves seriously outnumbered, yet they manage to keep their wits about them, I can’t help but think back on everything we put my dad through over the years. It occurs to me that they might just be a saint…or else they have just resigned themselves to the inevitable.