At four years old, my daughter doesn’t truly understand yet what exactly her daddy does at work every day. She doesn’t know everything about his job, but she knows that her daddy helps keep people safe. If you ask her, she will say, “My daddy is a police officer. He gets bad people off the street and keeps good people safe.”
She knows that her daddy has very special tools that he has to have with him at all times to keep himself and others safe. She doesn’t really know what they do, but she does know that he prays to God every day that he never has to use them.
She knows that daddy leaves the house before she wakes up and doesn’t come home until well after she is asleep. She also knows that daddy sometimes works 18 hour shifts because things happen right at the end of his shift, and he can’t always just come home.
She knows that daddy won’t always be home on her birthday, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, because his job requires a lot of him. She also knows that no matter how little or often he can be home on holidays or special occasions, he loves her.
When her daddy walks into the house emotionally and physically exhausted, she doesn’t know that it is because he had to deal with a horrific case of child abuse or a gang related murder. She just sees his shoulders slumped and his head hanging and that daddy could really use a hug to help make it all better.
She doesn’t know that daddy leaves the house every day knowing that there is the very real possibility that he won’t come home again, because there are people who would gladly and willingly harm him.
She doesn’t know yet that there are people who think that her daddy is a racist or a bigot, just by virtue of the uniform that he wears. She just knows that her daddy will help any person at all if they call for his help.
She doesn’t know that the uniform she sees her daddy put on, is the same uniform that too many people in our society despise. She just knows how hard her daddy worked to be worthy of that uniform, how proudly he wears it, and how seriously he takes his vow to protect and serve. She hears her daddy talk about the thin blue line, but she doesn’t understand what that is.
For now that is all we want her to know. As she gets older and understands more, we will make her more aware of the threats that her daddy faces every day. For now though, we want her to know that no matter what his job requires of him, he loves her. No matter what daddy faces at work, he will do his best to come home.