Gauge Smith is a pretty normal 13-year-old guy, who somehow managed to answer all of my questions without pausing the Xbox game he played with his friends.
“Stop asking me questions about the video game, Jake; I’m in the middle of an interview,” he told his friend. “And tell Tanner to quit knifing.”
Gauge describes himself as funny, which is most definitely true. He also says he’s nice when he wants to be. His stepdad, Staff Sgt. Tim Sanders, is stationed at Fort Stewart. Gauge said he’s more like a real dad than a stepdad though, so he calls him his half dad.
“I’ve got two brothers and two sisters,” Gauge said. “I live with my half dad and my real mom.”
Gauge is the oldest of his siblings and has all of the expected oldest sibling characteristics. He’s a leader, a little bossy and very outspoken.
“Well, they can get on my nerves sometimes, but they’re my family and I love them,” he said. “Sometimes they’re nice and sometimes we have bad days, but, hey, everything turns out OK.”
Gauge said his dad is a good soldier, but he isn’t a fan of moving around all the time.
“There’s been Florida, Michigan, Virginia, Tennessee and here,” Gauge said of the places he’s lived. “I don’t like the moving because I have to go around and meet new people.”
Gauge thinks the Army is good for his dad and might even be good for his brother, Robert, but it’s definitely not for him.
“I do not want to be in the military,” he said. “I want to be a detective. I want to do what the CSI people do.”
Gauge said deployments used to be very hard for their family, but they’ve gotten used to them.
“We’re kind of over them now, because it always happens,” he said. “It’s not really a new thing anymore. When he leaves, usually he’ll come in our room, and he’ll bring the globe, and he’ll show us where he’s going. He asks me to help our mom. In a way, I am, but I’m not the dad. I’m not like do this, do that. But I help my mom keep everything in line.”
Gauge offered this advice to other soldiers’ children: “I would say don’t worry a lot. Don’t be, like, I wonder if he’s OK. Your dad will be OK, or your mom. They’ll be back. It is a long time, but it’s not really a long time, you know?”
Yeah, Gauge, we know.
Editor’s note: If you are interested in having your child featured in this series on military children, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.