Tucking your children into bed at night. Reading them bedtime stories. Kissing them when they awake in the morning. Many parents, especially those in the military, miss those everyday moments when they’re separated from their children. Donald Stidham, material handler for Coca-Cola in Chattanooga, Tenn., decided to do something about it. He could empathize with military families because he, too, lives away from his young son and daughter.
“I’m a writer, and I thought about how I could make a tool that would show my kids I absolutely love them 100 percent in spite of our separation,” said Stidham. “I wanted to make the experience of being apart more positive for them.”
He wrote and self-published the book, The Adventures of Bubba and Sissy: Daddy Does The Same Thing, as a way to help his own children and children of military families in Tennessee cope with separation. It’s a hand-drawn book moms can read to their children when dads are away. The story takes children on 14 adventures, including a day swimming in the ocean, riding a carousel and having “crazy dance time” as Dad performs his own silly dance on the opposite page. The idea is to remind children whose fathers are serving in the military that quality time spent together can transcend distance.
Stidham’s son illustrated the book by drawing stick figures to represent his father, his sister and himself. When he saw his son’s drawings, Stidham decided that was the best way to portray the family members in the story.
“This is how kids really see people as stick figures, so I figured it would be easy for kids to see these people not as characters in a book, but as their own family members,” said Stidham. “The child is playing over here and Daddy’s playing over there, so they’re all on an adventure even if they’re separated by the military or a night shift job.”
The book will hopefully increase literacy among children, stimulate their imaginations and help them maintain their connections with their dads.
“I wanted to create stronger family bonds,” he said. “With the stick figures and simple illustrations, a child may think her own dad colored the book for her. It’s really an inspiration for a father to have story time with his children when he’s far away.”
The book will be available starting today, April 2, at StartSomeGood.com. All funds raised over the next 40 days will support military families through Operation Hero Daddy.