In honor of the Month of the Military Child, I present an essay written for a Reader’s Digest Contest in 1991 by our daughter, Sheri Lynn. Children were asked to address their feelings about family values, thoughts on life, what their mom and dad did at work and what they wanted to be when they were grown. Sheri did not win the contest, but she certainly melted our hearts. Steve carried a copy of this with him wherever he went. I found it yellowed and creased in his wallet when his personal items were returned to me the day after he died.
About my Bukowski Family
By Sheri Lynn Bukowski – Age 7
My mommy can do almost everything except throw a mouse away when it’s on a sticky thing and except when daddy’s home, because then she pretends she can’t do everything so he can. My daddy knows this secret.
My mommy and daddy probably know as much as God does, but mommy says they don’t because they’re just a mom and dad and we all, even mommies, learn something new every day. Also, we’re not supposed to put people on pedestals because we are all equal. I don’t know about that because I don’t think anybody is equal to my daddy. Mommy says pedestals are “thinking” things, and we should all try to be nice and say we’re sorry when we’re not nice. I suppose it’s like when she goes crazy and yells at everybody, even the dogs, and then says, “I don’t know what I was thinking.”
I think a pedestal is a wooden box. I think it must hurt really bad to fall off so I will never put myself on a pedestal. My brother says mommy and daddy don’t know anything about nothing. He’s 10. I think he should fall off a pedestal.
My mommy tells us we should talk to and listen to people every day if we can because every person and every day is important. Mommy says this includes my three year old foster brother, even if he is a pain.
My daddy always says, “Never give up!” And my mommy always says, “How do you know if you don’t try?” Sometimes I really, really hate my parents because they make me do stupid things like wash my face and wear dresses. Daddy says it’s okay because he will always love me anyway. Mommy says it’s not nice to hate but I can not like her if I want. I hate Philip, the boy who sits next to me at school, but I’m trying not to like him.
My daddy works in the Navy SEAL Team and does things that only special daddies like him can do. He knows how to jump out of airplanes and shoot loud guns and dive under ships and crab-crawl through jungles and climb rock walls. When he’s home we crab-crawl through the back yard and climb rocks and jump on the trampoline and he lets me wear green makeup on my cheeks, but mostly he’s gone and he writes us letters.
I think you have to know how to be lonely for your family and to write letters to be a Navy SEAL. I love my daddy more because I think he needs it.
My mommy used to work at a place writing things for attorneys because attorneys don’t know how to write like she does. We had a nanny from Denmark named Hella, like hello except with an A. Now mommy stays at home and gets her story money from the mailbox. She works as a mommy for free because she loves us and because she takes care of us and sick babies and helps mommies and daddies of foster children to know how to love when they have sad hearts or angry feelings. Mommy says she has enough love and I believe her, so it’s okay that I love daddy a little more since he’s alone a lot.
When I grow up I will probably be a Navy SEAL and a dancer. I will try to be a nice person and watch out for pedestals. I will also probably be a gymnastics girl in the Olympics because I’m pretty good so far.
If I win, will you please send this to my daddy. Mommy knows the address.
Sheri Lynn Bukowski © 1991