Monday, June 23, 2014

UT Ceremony

As we get closer to the end our unaccompanied tour (UT), people often ask me: was it worth it?

And the answer, for me, is: I don't know. How can I measure worth here? I mean, it's worth it in the sense that it's almost done, and we shouldn't have to do it again during his career. It was worth it in that I found out I was capable of doing it (most days, anyway). Inner wells of strength, blah, blah, blah.

I'll be interested, once Bart finishes (soon, we all hope), in what his answer will be. Because he's faced completely different challenges over there than I have over here, and any rewards he may have gotten from the work are things I can't speak to, can't really even know. Was it worth it? Should I ask him to guest post, do you think?

One interesting thing came of this UT tour recently. Others have blogged about this before, but in case you don't know - the State Department gives medals and certificates of appreciation to children whose parents serve at unaccompanied posts. It's something State gets really right: recognizing and appreciating the sacrifice that these kids make in service of our country. They give up dads and moms for a year so our country can make use of them, and it is not an easy year for these kids. (I feel relatively fortunate: we haven't had any serious issues, health-wise, psychologically, etc., because of this year apart, but there are lots of kids who suffer both mentally and physically, and there is just no way to know which kids will be hit the hardest. We've all heard the scary stories of kids who fall apart under the pressure, and we all watch our kids closely for signs of beyond-the-normal suffering.)

Here in Amman, Ambassador Jones has made a tradition of presenting the medals and certificates to the children in a formal ceremony at his house. (Perhaps because he has kids and has done the UT thing himself? At any rate, he and his wife have been incredibly supportive of the UT families throughout his tenure, and not everyone can say that about their Ambassador!) And so it happened that earlier this month, we received an invitation to attend this event with the 4 other UT families here at post.

The Ambassador gave a thoughtful little speech, directed at the kids, letting them know that he knows each of their parents personally and appreciates the work they are doing. It was a nice speech. Then each child got to take a picture with him. Ainsley was shy at first, but then turned all stalker-like and wouldn't leave him alone. Apparently shaking his hand was so fun the first time around that she needed to do it again. And again. And....

Also: Ainsley happened to be studying the concept of "abstract art" in school that week. I told her that the Ambassador and his wife have some beautiful artwork on their walls thanks to the "art in embassies" program, so she galloped right in and demanded to see their abstract art. She marched from one wall to the next, pointing out all of the abstractness like a little museum docent gone mad. This was right before she started her compulsive handshaking. I'm pretty sure the Ambassador and his wife collapsed into spasms of laughter the moment the door shut behind us at the end.

Afterwards, we all hung around and made ice cream sundaes topped with m&ms and other awesome kid fare.

Well, not all of us hung around. Seamus and his friend G were late for a baseball game, so as soon as they got their certificates, they grabbed their sundaes to go and took off with coach Uhh-Ron. We caught up later, because you know me, I never miss a chance to hang at the Dirt Pit!

Anyway. It was a lovely afternoon, and while I'm not sure if my youngest kids understood why we were there, I know the older ones did.  

The whole family posing for pictures.

K with her UT besties. No photo of her with the Ambassador, alas.  She was too quick and it came out too blurry.


Jessica said... [Reply]

So sweet! What a great idea and so glad State recognizes the sacrifices of families like yours. Speaking of, I am so sorry to hear about Bart's extension. We've all been thinking about you and keeping you in our prayers. Much love is coming your way from Turkey. Fingers crossed the extension is a short one.

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