The Foreign Service Journal, June 2018

86 JUNE 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL U naccompanied tours have become a fact of life in the Foreign Service. According to State’s Bureau of Human Resources, 14 percent of the State Depart- ment’s FS overseas positions are at posts designated as unaccompanied or limited accompanied, and there are approxi- mately 1,000 Foreign Service employees who serve in locations too dangerous for families to join. We all know how hard the separa- tion can be for both the employee and the family left behind, but what does it actually feel like for a kid? I sat down with my 8-year-old son, Alex, to discuss his experience this year while his father has served in Iraq. We have stayed on at post in Ankara, Turkey. JH: Tell me about yourself. What are your favorite things to do? AH: I like to play with Legos, eat and drink. And read. I really love “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” right now. JH: What would you like to be when you grow up? AH: An archeologist. I love learning about ancient Egypt and Greece and Rome. JH: Where does your dad live right now? AH: (Looking a little unsure…) Iraq? Yes, Iraq. JH: What does he do for work? AH: He works in the embassy. JH: What do you miss doing most with your dad? AH: Just being with him. Lots of stuff. Like, everything. I just want to be with him. JH: What’s it like when you talk to him on the phone? AH: It’s funnnnnnnnnnnnnn. (Make sure you write down all those n’s.) I really like talk- ing to him. We just Facebook Messenger. There are these little pictures, and I press them and make little faces with them. It is really cool. JH: And what do you enjoy doing with him when he comes home and visits? AH: Everything! We went to the beach once, and another time we went skiing. It was great. JH: What has he missed this year that made you sad? AH: He missed Christmas, and that was really sad. And my play. I was in this play at school called “Panto Pandemonium,” and I had one of the main parts. I really wish he could have been there and seen that one. JH: What do you and your mom get to do more of now that your dad is away? AH: Actually, I have less time to play with my mom because she has to do a lot more. You have to do a lot more with Caroline and Ryan [his younger siblings]. And that is hard. JH: But you’ve really stepped up around the house. What kind of things have you done to help out? AH: Yeah. I take out the trash, make my bed; and I’m really good at helping with the bags when we travel. JH: Yes, you are. I loved that one time when we came back from a trip and you insisted on loading all of the bags into the back of the van, and the Turkish driver was amazed at how strong you were. AH: That was funny. JH: So what would make this year easier for you? Jessica Powley Hayden, an FS spouse, is a lawyer and writer. Her work has appeared in Slate , The Christian Science Monitor and The Foreign Service Journal. She has lived with her family in Almaty, Washington, D.C., Salt Lake City, Baku and Ankara. Her husband is finishing a one-year unaccompanied tour in Iraq while she is staying in Ankara with their three young children. An Interviewwith My Son BY J ESS I CA POWL EY HAYDEN FAMILY MEMBER MATTERS a