Surprise! Military mom greets children at schools

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Navy petty officer surprises kids at school

When you’re a kid, getting to miss part of a school day is really cool. Getting to miss school because your mom is back from a nearly seven-month deployment? Awesome.

“It’s a double win-win,” Hayley Harper, 15, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

After a deployment with the U.S. Navy to Afghanistan, Mary Kindle returned to Douglas County on Monday, surprising all three of her children at their schools and daycare center.

Hayley was in her chorus class at Chapel Hill High School when her mom walked in the room, still dressed in camouflage.

“I jumped over the seats and ran and hugged her,” Hayley said.

The two hugged and wiped tears as classmates cheered, joining in the homecoming celebration. Chorus teacher Violet Martin was told Monday morning that Kindle would be coming to class, but had to keep the surprise under wraps.

“We were glad to have it happen in our class,” Martin said. “I’m just so happy we could share it with her.”

But the celebrations and hugs weren’t done. From the high school, Kindle and Hayley went to Arbor Station Elementary School, where 8-year-old Caleb was in P.E. class. The third-grader initially didn’t realize it was mom standing in front of his class.

“He hadn’t seen me in this uniform before,” Kindle said. “He was just shocked.”

There were more hugs before the group headed to the next stop: Picking up 3-year-old Logan from daycare. The youngest sibling took a little longer to remember mom, but was happy to be part of the family celebration.

From there, the family had a meal together at IHOP before heading back home, which has been the children’s grandparents’ house since Kindle’s deployment. After six years of active duty ended in 2007, Kindle remained in the reserves while working on computer databases at Lockheed-Martin in Cobb County.

When she was deployed in the spring, Kindle knew her children were in good hands. Intermittent Skype and phone conversations helped her keep in touch with her family, but getting home safely was the ultimate goal. After initially thinking she’d be overseas longer, Kindle was able to return a few weeks ahead of plans.

Next up for Kindle is finding a home for her family that will allow her children to continue attending the same schools. All three kids will return to school Tuesday, Kindle said. But Kindle will be staying put, if her teenage daughter has anything to do with it.

“She’s not allowed to leave,” Hayley said. “I told her she can’t leave for a while.”

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