This is something my daughter says almost every day. It's something we've never really given much thought to since he's usually at work when she says it, and it's normally right about the time she's getting in trouble for something. It wasn't until she started obsessing about where he worked- pointing out every building we passed and saying it was his place of work, and making up these elaborate stories about daddy shooting water guns, when we realized that maybe, just possibly, she remembers his year long absence from our lives.
Eliza was 10 months old when Ed left for Iraq. He wasn't able to be here for her first steps, her first birthday, her first surgery (boo ear tubes!)... Thankfully he was here to witness her first words (Dada, of course) but other then that, most of her milestone were caught on tape and shared through this wonderful thing called the internet. Thank jeebus for all this newfangled technology.
Anyhow, being that she was just shy of 2 when he returned (she's 3 now), we hoped she wouldn't remember it. I have no idea why we thought that because of course, our child is an elephant and can recite to you everything she did 3 Tuesdays ago. She totally got that from her dad because heaven knows I can't even remember what day it is half the time. I think this is both a good and a bad thing. Good because hopefully she kicks ass in school- bad because of things like this.
When it really hit us that there was more to this work/daddy/home obsession (yes, we need hit with a fire truck before we notice the most obvious crap) was when I was watching a video made for the Cold song "When Angels Fly Away"- which is very military and the video was a tribute to fallen soldiers. The first thing out of her mouth was "That's a soldier like daddy!" She definitely remembers the fatigues. Then she said, "I want my daddy back." I explained to her that he wasn't over there anymore, that he was just at work and he'd be home later that afternoon. She seemed noticeably relieved at that, but was still on edge while the video played and pictures of other soldiers came across the screen.
I wonder if she'll always remember, and I worry that it's somehow going to effect her in the future. Ed and I have talked about the whole "How is this going to effect her on a Freudian level" type of thing- will she have a fear of abandonment? Will she just remember subconsciously and will it effect her in the future? Given that neither of us has psych degrees (though I will say, that year I majored in psych made me a pretty decent armchair shrink if I do say so myself ;-) ) we won't know until we get there. But for now, we just give her extra hugs, make sure she knows everything's better now, and we look toward the future as best as we can. We can't change that year- we can't take it back or erase it. So, we do with it what we can and push forward, fixing the breaks as they happen. I will say, that's the one thing the military has helped with, even though it hurts sometimes, it's pretty damn effective. The "Suck it up, Push the hell on" mentality... it sucks, but it works.
By the way, we did take her to his work to try and appease her worries a little, and since he's an AutoCAD drafter for a small company, they didn't mind her checking it out. It seemed to help a bit, but now she just thinks he shoots water guns at computer screens...?? Welcome to my life.