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.