Monday, March 28, 2016

9 Things I Thought All Kids Went Through Growing Up As A Military Kid

I'm a military spouse. But I also grew up as a military kid. My mother was in the Air Force and retired as a Colonel. Growing up, I lived in a lot of fantastic places, and they are the following: McGuire AFB, NJ, Comiso, Italy (since closed), Ramstein in Germany, Rhein-Main in Germany (closed now), Travis AFB, CA, SHAPE, Belgium (where I met my husband), and Hanscom AFB, MA.

There are some things that I assumed ALL kids knew or went through...

1. I thought all kids moved every couple of years. Sometimes I went to school on base. But sometimes I went to a school closest to base, which meant kids who weren't affiliated with the military also attended. I would ask where all they've lived and and would be surprised when they'd go, "Huh? I've lived here my whole life. I haven't even been on an airplane before!" This was also a foreign concept to me. By the age of 10, I had been on multiple airplanes.

2. I thought everyone had to stand for the National Anthem before seeing a movie. If you see a movie on base, the National Anthem will play instead of previews. Everyone must stand. I remember seeing a movie with a friend off base and when the previews came on I whispered, "When does the National Anthem start?"

3. I assumed all kids stayed home with their dad. Back in the 80s and 90s, it wasn't as normal for a father to stay home with the kids. But my Dad did. I thought it was weird when I'd see other mothers at home. I said, "What's your Mom doing here? Why isn't she at work? Where's your Dad?" a number of times when I was tiny. My Dad even had a newspaper article written about him on being a stay at home dad.

4. Wait. Your mother's picture isn't in places like the bowling alley? My mother was the commander of squadrons, so her face would be in places I'd go. Like the bowling alley on base. I remember being embarrassed as a teenager, especially when kids would be like, "Hey, isn't that your mom?"

5. I thought it was normal to not have family nearby. Some of my non-military friends would be like, "My Grandma lives a block away. My aunts live in the town over." We'd usually have to fly to see family or they'd visit us. It didn't happen too often, especially when we were in Europe, but I felt like I knew them enough.

6. I assumed everyone said "all over" when asked where they were from. Even now when people ask, I'll say "all over." I didn't grow up in one place. I grew up in Italy. Germany. California. Belgium. So many places.

7. Didn't everyone know what a hail and farewell was? I had to attend several, especially when it was time for our family to move on. (It's when you say goodbye to someone moving.) It was boring, I won't lie. You listened to people speeches. Mom usually got something. Then you had to stand in a line and shake hands with a smile. My favorite part was the cake at the end of it all.

8. Since I was in Europe for most of my childhood, I was shocked when I went to a restaurant and there was actually ICE in my drink. AND I got free refills. Is this normal? This happened when we got to California. I couldn't believe how big the soda glasses were. I was used to the tiny ones in Europe. With no ice. And if you asked for ice over there, you basically had a large sign over your head that said AMERICAN.

9. Huh? These are normal commercials. Where are the cheesy ones from AFN? In Europe, you got ONE American channel called AFN--or the Armed Forces Network. AFN didn't have the normal commercials of the States. They had commercials that reminded you not to litter and not to have fraud, waste, and abuse. When I got to the States again, I actually LIKED watching the commercials because they were...normal. (Bored? Go to YouTube and type in AFN commercials.)

Growing up as a military gave me all sorts of amazing experiences that I wouldn't change. Sometimes I did wish I could stay in one spot for more than three years, but then I wouldn't have met all the people that I did (including my husband.) Not many kids can say they got to live in Italy, Germany, and Belgium.

But I can.


  1. You look just like your mom!!

  2. You had some cool experiences!

    There are so many military kids in my boys' school. My boys ask me why WE haven't lived in Japan, like everyone else. LOL

  3. Loved reading this and yes you look so much like your mom. I grew up in pretty much the oppsoite of a Military family being that my Dad was able to be home a lot during the day as he taught college and one some days he was done by about noon. He did work a lot at home too but he was there so much. I learned a lot of these things that you mentioned when Ben joined.

  4. Yes for free refills and ice! It's one of those small things that was a big adjustment when we moved to Italy. Those AFN commercials definitely got old really fast.

  5. I love this!! was your husband a military kid as well?

  6. I pretty much think your mom may be the coolest person ever.

  7. NJ is the most fascinating place to live! Kidding, but maybe we crossed paths as kids.
    It's funny how we really only know the childhoods we had, and it takes a long time to realize it's different for everyone.

  8. Your mom sounds pretty rad!

  9. I'm going to say the same thing... you look exactly like your mom!! We weren't military, but I lived in a few countries by the time I graduated high school, away from family and so on, so I can relate to a lot of this.

  10. There are pros and cons to every kind of upbringing - it sounds like you have wonderful parents and some great experiences!

  11. Hehe I can totally relate to #1,5,6,8 even though my parents were not military... In hindsight, I totally loved moving every couple of years - what did you think?

  12. "All over." That's a good answer. Phillip moved every 5 years when he grew up (not military, his dad just switched jobs a lot) and he never knows how to answer that question. He's just started to answer Minnesota because that's where I'm from.

  13. Am I the only one who thinks you are totally like your father as well ? This is such a sweet post anyway, it made me smile.

  14. I love posts like these! Since I did not grow up in the military but married into military life, I enjoy reading out the perspective of military kids like the ones I will have someday. This was a fun read! Thanks for sharing.

  15. Neat post. No military background in my family but I am sure you had some really amazing experiences and had such an appreciation for anyone who served far younger than many children. I love the idea of standing for the national anthem before a movie :)

  16. This is so cool. I've never thought about how different a childhood like yours must be from mine! National anthem before a movie and your mom's photo in the bowling alley are my personal favorites!

    And let me just say that your email address and the reason you have it is HILARIOUS. I LOVE that you kept it!!!! :)

  17. HAHAHA I remember when I went to a civilian theater for the first time I stood up waiting for the National Anthem to play. I was so mad when it didn't. I thought they were being disrespectful. I had NO real clue that they just didn't "normally" do that.

    I also remember kids stopping to salute my dad... I was like, "Uhh what are you doing, he's just my dad!"

  18. I am not in the military or married to someone who is, but my sister is married to someone in the Navy and I really enjoyed this. I think I'll share with her.
    I think that's so interesting about the national anthem, I love that!

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  20. This was such a great post! I grew up an Army brat, I didn't move around as much, but I did live in Germany.
    There are so many things us military kids thought/think are normal but no. I thought everyone knew what a latrine was. :D
    My kids aren't military kids, but they move around like they are. My oldest daughter is the only one out of my three who has experienced being a military child.
    You look just like you're mom! Beautiful. ;)
    You're dad is awesome too!
    Thanks for sharing with us at #MMBH!

  21. What an interesting perspective. I love this, knowing that my daughter will likely live 'all over' :) I had NO idea what military life was like until I met my husband, so this was refreshing to read. :)


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