Because of my rather robust deployment schedule (Mrs. Mongo has graciously done the math, and I was gone the last 21 of 24 months), my lovely and engaging wife has signed me up for every parental engagement possible. In the month and a half I've been back, I'm definitely well on the way toward winning back all my Super Dad points. So far, I've chaperoned about five school dances, three field trips, and four or five assemblies. She's kept me away from the PTA meetings because she knows that I'd be me.
One of the activities that Mrs. Mongo put on my dance card was going to the 5th grade class for a question and answer session after the school Veterans Day ceremony yesterday. When I was first assigned to a posting in S. Florida, my wife talked to another wife we knew from previous postings who was on the ground, and who said that the best public schools, by far, were down in the Keys. So I bit the bullet (okay, I wasn't given a vote) and accepted the (ass-ripping) commute in order to put the kids in good schools. The schools down here have been phenomenal. I'm pretty hard on the public school system, but have been forced to admit that I could not ask for a better school in which to place my kids.
So, I was given some rough ROE (Rules of Engagement) about what I could, and couldn't, talk to the kids about, and set loose. We had a blast. The kids asked some pretty perceptive questions. I was sorta kinda on the hot seat. When the Q&A was done, I hadn't answered everyone's questions. So, I volunteered to answer written follow-on questions sent home. For shits and grins, here are the follow-on questions and my answers:
Q: How many people have you ever shot/killed?
A: Unfortunately, Army guys have to sometimes employ violence in order to do our jobs. However, it’s not the kind of thing one keeps score on.
Q: Do you have to lift a lot of weights?
A: I have to exercise a lot, but I do not lift weights. I do a lot of calisthenics, sprinting and yoga. Sometimes I will use real-world weights to exercise (like tires, logs, and bricks), but I do not do what one would call “weightlifting.”
Q: How many inches are your biceps?
A: A lot.
Q: What’s the worst weather you’ve ever been in?
A: I have been in a lot of bad weather. I would say that the worst weather one has to endure is when it is just above freezing (say 35-39 degrees F) but raining. That is really miserable, which is why I’m glad we live in the Keys.
Q: Has your Dad’s team ever won once?
A: My team wins every time we go out.
Q: Have you ever laughed during an ambush?
A: I usually laugh after the ambush, once I realize that all my guys and me are okay, and nobody was hurt.
Q: Where is the hottest place you’ve ever been to?
A: The hottest place I’ve ever been is in Hol Hol, Djibouti. It’s the hottest place on earth, and I once spent about three beautiful weeks there.
Q: Are Iraqis nice or mean?
A: The Iraqis I know, and have worked with and lived with, are capable of the most amazing acts of kindness, charity, and selflessness, and the same guys are capable of disturbing acts of cruelty and barbarism. They are very, very different from us, and even after all these years I am still working on understanding them.