my husband shaves off his beard. Seriously, that's usually the giveaway drill weekend is coming up. Our eight year old, who has no use for calendars except for when it comes to vacation time, Christmas, and his birthday, knows when the beard goes, Daddy goes for the weekend. Technically he's not gone, since he doesn't drill far enough away to stay over night (48 mile drive, not the required 50 for an overnight billet), but he's not home to drive to soccer, Cub Scouts, etc. Mom has to do it and no one likes Mom to be driving.
This month, however, he drilled an extra day to make up for a missed Saturday when he went camping with the Cub Scouts, and shaved off the beard early, resulting in massive confusion.
Our son asked, "Is it drill weekend tomorrow?"
"No," I said, "tomorrow is Wednesday."
Son makes a face, "Oh, Wednesday is a school day." (He's probably trying to decide which he likes less, another day of school, or Saturday with dad gone.) So he then comes up with, "Shouldn't we have off from school, since Daddy has to go to drill weekend?"
"It's not drill weekend."
"But he shaved off his beard. It must be some Navy thing."
Of course my reply is totally unhelpful, "When Daddy gets deployed, are you going to take off every day he's gone?"
"Wouldn't it be easier for you if we did, Mommy?" Such a sweet boy, so helpful to his someday to be harried mother, homeschooling four kids while Dad is deployed.
With that, seeing how we were on dangerous ground (being in the Navy I guess I should say in dangerous waters) I steered the conversation back to the beard and how they think he looks so funny when he shaves it off every month.
The kids hated the beard at first, now they accept it. They think Daddy looks strange without it. Their feelings about the beard are sort of like their relationship to the Navy. They don't like their father to be gone, they're frightened by the prospect of him deploying, but they can't imagine him not being in the Navy. They like to see him in his uniform, and to tell other kids, "My Dad is in the Navy." You never hear them talking about their father's civilian job with the same pride with which they talk about the Navy.
So now we've had two additional beardless weeks in November and December. He's gotten used to shaving everyday again. He's thinking of not growing the beard back, so I'll have to convince him that would just wreck our younger children's ability to keep track of time. And the last thing we'd want is our school advoidant youngster to think everyday should be a day off because Daddy has no beard.