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Thank you to Echoes of Incarceration, Jacobia Dahm, and Salvador Espinoza for their photos.

Voices from See Us, Support Us: Where the Ants Go 

"It bothered me that the ants could crawl into my daddy's strong arms. But I couldn't." - David

 

My earliest memories of Daddy's prison visiting room are the army of ants scavenging for food. Their presence didn't bother me, but it did bother me that they could crawl through the doorway to where my daddy came and left. But I couldn't. They were allowed to see where he slept, ate, and brushed his teeth. But I couldn't.

I was only five when my daddy was incarcerated, so you might think I don't have a lot of memories of my daddy before prison. But I do. Most of all, I remember his strong arms: the first ones to hold me when I was born; the ones that carried me until I crawled; the ones that reached out to me when I started walking; the ones that threw me high in the sky; the ones that buckled me into the car seat; the ones that tossed me a football; but, most importantly, the ones that I fell asleep in every night until he left. It bothered me that the ants could crawl into my daddy's strong arms. But I couldn't.

Prison walls wouldn't break my bond with Daddy, but they did make it harder to connect! We've had to create some unique ways to break down those barriers.

My daddy never used to wear a watch, but he does now because there's no other way to tell time in prison. This Christmas, I wanted a watch too. Not just any old watch either, the exact same watch as Daddy's. I'm not allowed to bring my watch into the visiting room, but I am allowed to make a top secret alarm schedule with Daddy. When our afternoon alarm goes beep, beep, beep, we drop down and do a set of burpees, and our hearts go beat, beat, beat!

 

We both love reading, so we decided to read the same book at bedtime. Right now, we're reading Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Daddy says he used to love Greek mythology when he was a kid, which is awesome, because I do too! At visit, we talk about the plot, our views of the characters, and how we think the story will end. My daddy says that whenever he is reading, he imagines me lying down in his arms and falling asleep while he reads. I imagine the same thing too.

Daddy and I also run marathons together... joke marathons! We love to trade jokes over email and try to answer them at visit. Right now, I'm obsessed with space. Here is my latest joke: "Why couldn’t the astronaut book a hotel room on the moon?" Because it was full! We try hard to make each other laugh. I think we'll both succeed for years to come.

I'm not as bothered by the ants anymore. Sure they see a lot more of my daddy than I do right now, but one day my daddy will come home, and that's a journey they won't be able to make. Until then, the ant army is doing a pretty good job of protecting my daddy.

In collaboration with KidsMates