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The kids are fine, in fact, military kids are incredible

The oldest of my two kids turned 17 this week. In true mom fashion, I spent most of the day of his birthday reminiscing about when he was born, and where he’s been.

And wondering where he will go.

He was conceived in Hong Kong, grown on Okinawa, and born in Korea.

He’s lived in 11 houses and moved to Florida, Germany, Florida, Kansas, Germany, Canada, Germany and, finally, Florida again. In 10th grade, he started his eighth school.

He’s been to 20 countries. He’s seen 48 states, most of those while traveling the U.S. in our RV for a year after my husband retired from the Army. 

What a life he has led life so far.

Yet, like any parent, I wonder if we have done right by him. When we were still an active duty family, I felt bad making the kids move all the time and adjust to new places and new cultures.

As a retiree family, I worry that we have limited our experiences. We are very happy with the place we chose to settle down, but let’s just say it’s not quite as exciting and interesting as living overseas.

Honestly, it’s a little boring.

We’re just regular people now. Nothing special. Just like our neighbors.

This week as I reflected back on my son’s 17 years of life so far, I realized all the things he experienced in his military childhood that we don’t see, have or do often in our civilian life now:

  • Friends who know what it’s like to be the “new kid.”
  • Military “family” next door, or upstairs, or just down the street.
  • A whole community of people who had his back.
  • Travel, travel and more travel.
  • Diversity.
  • Culture
  • Pride
  • Leadership
  • Tradition
  • Seeing people, everyday, with a strong work ethic, values, and a commitment to something greater than themselves.

On the other hand, here’s what he’s gained:

  • Self confidence built while settling into a non-military community.
  • A new hometown.
  • Friends who have had completely different experiences than he has had.
  • Exposure to pop culture.
  • Interest in things that weren’t available to him before – robotics, his school dive team, flying.
  • A renewed sense of respect for those who serve in the military.
  • The realization that kids in America face big challenges from things like broken families, poverty and crime – not everyone has an idyllic childhood running around freely behind the secure fences of a military base.
  • The knowledge that not everyone in America believes in the same thing or acts the same way, but that’s OK.
  • Pride in his dad, and in our “service” as a military family.

Yeah, I think this kid is going to turn out just fine.

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