We’re preparing for a long military exercise here at Camp Atterbury. It’s designed to test us cumulatively on a lot of the things we’ve learned here so far. (If they have a test on how to consume lots of high fructose corn syrup, I’m passing with flying colors.)
In typical military fashion, we’ve been working for several days now without a day off, and it looks like we’ll be going for several more before we can get a rest. Today is Sunday, but weekends and holidays don’t really mean anything to me anymore. Nowadays, I measure time in one of two ways: “Am I working?” or, “Do I have time off?”
Taj probably has a similar way of measuring time. He knows how to tell time, but is not really sure of how much time a week is made of, nor how many weeks a year is made of. He understands that a day is defined as everything that happens between the time he gets up and the time he goes to bed. So, he’s either awake or sleeping. (Working, or time off.) He, like me, sometimes has no clue what day it is, or the significance of a special holiday (unless Muna reminds him.)
I talked with him today. Sometimes he asks me questions that make me think he doesn’t realize how long I will be gone. He’ll ask if I can join him at some event, and I’ll have to swallow the lump in my throat as I tell him that I won’t be back by then. He doesn’t sound too disappointed, but I hear the gears in his head turning as he’s trying to figure out “when WILL he be back?”
When I’m gone on short trips, Muna sometimes gives him a calendar and has him mark off the days until I return. I supposed she could do the same for my trip to the ‘stan, but I wonder if Taj can keep track of the concept of time that long. I hope not.
I actually hope that he doesn’t retain the concept of time, because when I return, I don’t want him to remember how long I was gone.
You know how one day, your kid is mad at you, but the next day they wake up and totally forgot what they were mad about? I want Taj to think of my deployment like that … He may be sad and miss me now, but when I return, I hope he doesn’t even remember how much time we’ve missed.