Helping kids support kids
My name is Marlene Norgard, I am a military spouse as well as a mom to two beautiful children. As a military mom I faced different challenges with my children that other families did not have to endure. I watched my children struggle with everything from disappearing parents, inconsistent homes, to strained friendships and communication.
My wakeup call was when we were getting ready to leave our first duty station. The movers came and started packing. My son took a backpack and packed his favorite toys and blankets and wore it on his back. He wore that backpack for the duration of the packing and would not open it or play with any of the toys in it. Now, it was just so hysterically, painfully ironic that out of all of our 18 bags made the journey from Hawaii to North Carolina, that that was the ONLY bag that didn’t make it and he was heartbroken. When we arrived in North Carolina that moment had me starting to think about his behavior, and how off it was.
Shortly after arriving he had finally made his first friend and he was just starting to develop an understanding of relationships. He became attached to this young friend and then one day his friend up and left and my son was very confused. I quickly realized that I needed to be a little more proactive in my children’s upbringing, so like any good mom I turned to the internet in desperate search of material. To my dismay there was very little. My husband looked at me and said, “then you write it". Now I like a challenge as much as the next mom, but writing a book was completely out of my wheelhouse, but any resourceful mommy with their child’s emotional wellbeing at stake is quick to act.
My very first book is entitled My Star Spangled Friend. I created this book in hopes of strengthening the bond that these children make with their peers. Friendship is such an important foundation for their development and even more so in a military setting. Our lives are just so quick to change, our daily routines are unstable, and the resources are not as easy to access as it may seem. This book allows these kids to not only keep in touch, but it helps them share and connect through their experiences, the best part is its guidance! They are still kids and don’t know what questions to ask, so this allows them to not only share information but also provide a keepsake between them and their friends. These kids have the opportunity to learn about each other’s new worlds such as new friends, foods, cultures, and environments that one another lives in now.
My second book is Kali’s Travels, I am very proud of this one. This book hits home with how my son felt as he left his first home. In this book my daughter travels across the country with her family, she moves from base to base and overcomes little hurdles in each place she lives. In each place she starts out by feeling upset that she had to move away from her friends, her school, her room and where she called home. But, in each new place she is able to find a new friend, discover new places, and get to redecorate a brand-new room. What is special about this book is not only the story, or overcoming obstacles and adapting, but the places in this book actually exist! The kids are able to connect on a deeper level because they are the SAME places they have been to, so the kids really enjoy this book and I enjoy watching their eyes light up when they recognize a place they’ve been to. Kali’s Travels allows other children to see that although it may seem scary at first, there are so many more opportunities for new friends, new experiences and new memories to be made!
My third but possibly not last book is Daddy’s Deploying, now I created this one after two deployments, however I hadn’t had a chance to use it after I wrote it until just recently. I read it to my kids when my husband deployed within two weeks of receiving the orders, so I can say first hand that this truly helped open the lines of communication and let the kids know that although this is a normal thing in our world, it doesn’t have to diminish the quality of our relationships.
This book walks children through what it's like to have all of the daily thoughts and worries, and how to cope and think of situations differently. Deployment is definitely one of the more worrisome events in anyone’s career and family, however it does make us stronger and more independent. My book allows children to see how they can stay connected even when their parents may be far from them or out of communication bounds temporarily. It normalizes the sadness, or frustration, because let’s face it every child can feel sad, every child can feel frustrated, but it's how we look at the situations sometimes.
This book can empower young minds, to push through, use all their resources available and rely on those closest to them. So please, share these books, share these resources, and share your experiences with one another. Sometimes it feels like us military families are far from home, but our experiences and relationships create something more powerful that cannot be replicated. It creates our beautifully constructed military family.