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Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor

Military Dad Leaves 190 'Goodnight Kisses' During Deployment

This is one sweet routine.
PUBLISHED ON 11/14/2016

Beyond prepping kids for sleep, bedtime rituals are part of bonding with baby. And one military family wasn’t going to let something like a 190-day deployment get in the way of their nightly routine. Air Force Major Steve Dillenburger left enough Hershey’s Kisses to last his toddler from April through October, representing a goodnight kiss from dad for each night away from home.

“[Steve] was looking for ways to do something special to help our [son] Sean remember him and stay in touch and know he’s thinking about him,” Dillenburger’s wife, Mary Ellen Dillenburger, tells ABC News. Sean was 2 years old when Dillenburger’s deployment began. “We discussed the kisses and thought it was a cute idea and a nice little addition to our nightly routine.”

Mary Ellen says there were no exceptions to the evening kiss, even when Sean was misbehaving.

“[I] couldn’t punish him from daddy,” she says.

As the jar started getting lower and lower, Mary Ellen and Sean started to prepare for Dillenburger’s homecoming.

“Finally about a week out or so I said, ‘Daddy’s coming home soon,’ and then we started crossing off the days and getting excited,” Mary Ellen says. “We were able to drive up and wait for him at the airport.”

With no more deployments on the horizon, the father-son duo is enjoying their time together. As for the chocolates?

“[Sean] misses the chocolate kisses,” Mary Ellen says, “but he’s more happy that daddy is home.”

Looking for some bedtime rituals for your family? Try implementing some of these easy routines.