It isn’t until much later when your ID card is taken from you and you are pushed from the citadel that you find out that you are not “normal” by most standards . . .
The children of the base, Military Brats as they are called, I think are the most fascinating people. There is one common denominator amongst all of these brats; that is – They all know how it feels.
We have all been in that situation and knew exactly what the other was going through. It’s the same thing all over the world. Every couple of years there are new friends to be made, and new schools to attend. Remarkable though, most kids that you come across hold that empathy in their hearts and just welcome you in without any reservations.
There is a quick name exchange, a brief history and the next thing you know you are playing what ever game they have already started. There is no “she’s an outsider” or “she’s not a cousin” mentality that I would encounter later in my civilian life…we were all just family that hadn’t met before.
A child on an Air Force Base is absolutely complaisant to the fact that they grow up under different conditions then civilian kids. When you are told to clean your room, you are threatened with the “white glove” inspection. You have no idea that it is possible to make a bed without hospital corners, or that you can leave a bed unmade at all.
There are always boxes that never quite get unpacked. That was the stuff you apparently didn’t need to survive, so why unpack. You have C- Rations stashed in the cupboards that you sometimes played with. You knew that a square meal didn’t mean that it had all of the required food groups…but instead that it was more of, let’s call it a “style” of eating. We would never dream of moving, let alone speaking during the National Anthem. Our families had a WWIII plan.
And every single outdoors event was donned with those beautiful green, military issue, wool blankets. Everyone had them and you sat on them in the grass, curled up in them when you were camping, lined the bed of the truck with them when moving…they were used for everything and every car had at least one in it’s trunk.
Another distinction, that I was not aware of until later in life, is that a Brat’s family vacations are usually more of a history lesson. I, at the time, assumed these vacations were to the places that every other child was headed. Apparently that is not the case.
For sons and daughters of the military, “vacations” are usually trips to a wide selection of historic places, where you would be privileged to watch a civil war reenactment or take a tour through places like Mt Vernon (George Washington’s home for you civilians). There were no great battles fought at Disney World, so there was never any reason to go there.
All of these things we took for granted as being completely normal. Why wouldn’t we, everyone we knew was living the exact same life. It isn’t until much later when your ID card is taken from you and you are pushed from the citadel that you find out that “normal” people have not heard of most of these things. That most people live in the same town for their entire lives! That we were not in fact normal children by most standards.
What we are however, is wonderful, patriotic, loyal, respectful people that offer an entire different outlook on life to people that know nothing of the gated, protected world we grew up inside.
We are awesome.