Carbon Copies of Dad

September 5, 2006

Editor’s Note: I actually wrote this post yesterday. So it is only pure coincidence that it is compatible with our discussion today about the physical risks we would — or would not — take as parents. Also, something that has been lost in all of this tragedy: How do children best cope with the absence of a parent? -Elisa

In light of Labor Day weekend, let’s remember the folks who can’t celebrate it with their families. To ease the long distance and pain surrounding lengthy deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Maine Marines National Guard is distributing life-size cutouts of soldiers to their families, according to an article in the Boston Globe. Kay Judkins, of Caribou, Maine, has such a cutout of her husband Jim, a minesweeper mechanic in Afghanistan.

The Flat Daddies ride in cars, sit at the dinner table, visit the dentist, and even are brought to confession, according to their significant others on the home front.

“I prop him up in a chair, or sometimes put him on the couch and cover him up with a blanket,” said Kay Judkins of Caribou, whose husband, Jim, is a minesweeper mechanic in Afghanistan. “The cat will curl up on the blanket, and it looks kind of weird. I’ve tricked several people by that. They think he’s home again.”

At the request of relatives, about 200 Flat Daddy and Flat Mommy photos have been enlarged and printed at the state National Guard headquarters in Augusta. The families cut out the photos, which show the Guard members from the waist up, and glue them to a $2 piece of foam board.

I initially spotted this link on Blogging Baby, and like the writer, I don’t know what to make of it. When Markos was on his book tour — three weeks at a time — we felt super guilty for having Ari communicate with him even over video iChat. I know I would not drive around in our Suburu with a carbon copy of Markos in the backseat.

Then again, our soldiers may not have the luxury of wireless technology — or even the phone — to talk to their children every day. Maybe it is fun for the kids to ride around with a carbon copy of Dad. Is this a good substitute for physical interaction? What do you think, fellow MotherTalkers?