April is the Month of the Military Child
According to the Military Child Education Coalition, the official flower of the military child is the dandelion. Why?
The plant puts down roots almost anywhere, and it’s almost impossible to destroy. It’s an unpretentious plant, yet good looking. It’s a survivor in a broad range of climates.
Military children bloom everywhere the winds carry them. They are hardy and upright. Their roots are strong, cultivated deeply in the culture of the military, planted swiftly and surely. They’re ready to fly in the breezes that take them to new adventures, new lands, and new friends.
Experts say military children are well-rounded, culturally aware, tolerant, and extremely resilient. Military children have learned from an early age that home is where their hearts are, that a good friend can be found in every corner of the world, and that education doesn’t only come from school. They live history. They learn that to survive means to adapt, that the door that closes one chapter of their life opens up to a new and exciting adventure full of new friends and new experiences (Military Child Education Coalition, 2017).
An Army wife’s take
Understandably, this April has focused on the international pandemic caused by COVID-19. Memes have been circulating on social media by military spouses on how civilians are now getting a taste of what life is like for military families. Of course, as an Army wife of a couple decades, I chuckle, but also snort a little when reading these—cause I am not so sure people outside our community really register the connection or will even remember with the same intensity of this experience once this moment in time has passed.
That is why we have months recognizing groups of people, like April—the month of the military kid. Military kids are extra special because they not only tolerate the lifestyle, but thrive, without having any choice like us spouses or service members.
My three boys’ childhoods are like many other military kids. They have been through multiple deployments and TDY’s. Long hours also meant a lot of time being without their dad while having to step it up for their mom.
We have also moved over a dozen times with each of our boys going through 9 moves before graduating from high school. We are still active duty so their college years will also feel the impact of the military lifestyle.
Right now, our youngest will attend his senior year in a different state. And though I feel bad for all the kids, especially seniors, with the disruption of this school year, my heart breaks even more for my son. When he packed his bags and cleared his locker that day in March… it was the last day he will ever set foot in that school. Many of his peers were already out of school and teachers were scrambling to make sure students had all the information they needed for online learning.
There was no chance to say goodbye—no ceremonies or special days normally held at the end of the year. He will likely never see his classmates again, except a couple of his closest friends. And even then, they never got to finish the school year as planned. No final band trip to Orlando. No prom with his first girlfriend. When we will move this summer, it will likely be the toughest move of his life because of the pandemic.
But my hope is he will remember all the good things and wonderful people he has gotten to know during our time in Georgia. Because if it were not for the Army, we would have never been here and he would have never gotten to experience all that he loves here—or anywhere else in this Army adventure we have had over the years. I know he knows this. All three of them do. But it is still tough for them, regardless of the being an experienced Army brat.
I know they appreciate all the positive things they have had the opportunity experience. However, at the same time, they have made tremendous sacrifices which will impact the rest of their lives.
My hope is they will eventually find peace with all the challenges their dad and I put them through. I hope they forgive us for dragging them around the world, pulling them away from friends, tolerating our crazy optempo lifestyle, and all the rest of the imperfections of their parents—a cranky old soldier and his unconventional frumpy wife.
So, I don’t want to let the month of April end without acknowledging all our military kids. Despite this weird and tragic time, I think it is imperative we do not loose sight of what and who is most important. In fact, it is more important during times like this, we do not loose sight of what makes us who we are and what we value. And I value military kids, especially my own three Army brats.
Danny, Sammy, Joey… you guys are the best and your dad and I will always appreciate you and all the sacrifices you have made for your family and supporting this country.