Saturday, September 13, 2008

BRATship envy.

Growing up, I always wanted to be a military brat. Moving ever few years, exploring new area and meeting new people, what could be better? Alright, I'm sure there are those who fall on either side of the fence, those having loved being a military kid and those who despised all that came with it.

I find it slightly comical that Wikipedia refers to military brats as being part of an American subculture. Sounds so underground! Of course, Dr. David C. Pollock included military kids in a group he titled "Third Culture Kids". Who knew there was so much discussion and labeling of military children? One explanation of Third Culture Kids comes from Interaction, Inc. and it goes as follows: “Third culture kids (TCKs) are not new, and they are not few. They have been a part of the earth’s population from the earliest migrations. They are normal people with the usual struggles and pleasures of life. But because they have grown up with different experiences from those who have lived primarily in one culture, TCKs are sometimes seen as slightly strange by the people around them."

I'm sorry, but what? Honestly, that describes a large percentage of the world's children. Aren't all kids strange? They have odd habits sometimes, they do funny things. Of course, they have been a part of the earth from earliest migration, it's that whole which came first the chicken or the egg thing. Seriously? Perhaps this is way over my head and I'm not on that intellectual plain to comprehend the delicate and complex issue at hand. Maybe this guy actually trying to come up with something brilliant here and he had knowledge that not everyone possesses. It all sounds a little Indigo Child to me, of course, many things may be opposite, but you get them point. I am hugely digressing here. Anyway, like me, people (who didn't grow up military) seem to be fascinated with brathood.

I suppose I wouldn't have liked being analyzed and labeled by doctors, philosopher and psychologists. Still, aside from that, the life intrigues me. My children are, obviously, military brats. Ironically, *takes voice down to a whisper* they have all been born in the same hospital. Shhh. I don't share that with too many military wives, it's insanely unheard of, and I'm very lucky to have had my three kids delivered by the same OB staff. True story.
Nonetheless, they will have lived in different locations. They will have stories about my husband's comings and goings. They will have pictures, scrapbooks, treasures and other memorabilia to collect throughout the years that will tell a tale of their military family and the travels they endured. They will, in my assessment, have a leg up on some of their civilian friends for they may very well be exposed to more ethnicities, cultures and religions in their childhood because of our situation. Oh, wait, that's also a personal thing. I do think any parent, civilian or military, can give such exposure to their child. Still, I do think it kind of goes hand in hand with the military life. You know, the whole nomadic life experience thing.

My biggest concern is that of moving schools. Okay, I take that back. I have a teeny concern about it. There are options. I'm okay with moving a bunch during the elementary school years. Still, what comes of these kids when they get up their in age and start seriously establishing themselves in school districts? Is it terribly traumatic on them to uproot them and replant them during junior year of high school? (My husband thinks this won't be an issue for us, but I've got him doing 30 years whether he likes it or not. ;) ).

When I start to think about this I remember my junior year of high school. We had this girl move to our district from who-knows-where. Her dad was in the service. She had just been named her high school's junior prom Queen the month before she moved to our school. She bragged about it and made it her 'break the ice with the home team' information. Well, our school's prom was the next month. We were late in the year. The girl actually brought her sash to our prom. Wouldn't you know it, she even walked around the junior girls circle thingy to be judged (how cruel, is that anyway?) to hopefully make prom court. Well, I kid you not, this chick actually got chosen as Queen of OUR junior prom too. Then, she moved over the summer (nods head) and didn't even go to school with us senior year. we never heard from her again. We had a theory that her dad wasn't really in the military, that they just moved so she could collect prom sashes.

Anyway, I'm so completely off topic. LOL

So, I guess for kids like THAT, it can be fun and cool. Still, what of the kid who doesn't really fit in and doesn't do well in new situations? Do you just homeschool or tell them to suck it up? You could GEO I suppose, but man, that can be tough too.

I'd love to hear some brat stories and see your experiences. What have your kids been through thus far? Do you think the Coast Guard brats are any different than other service brats? How so? (You like the homework assignment?) :)


Novahawk9 said...

First let me say that this first time reader is really enjoying this blog. FINALLY something on the Coast Guard.
On the topic of Brat-dom and switching schools, I can't speak for anyone other then myself and maybe my CGB friends, but I'm a full grown coastie brat who never had a serious problem with the moving, and meeting new people. Granted their are lots of different ways of dealing with it. To me it just seemed the normal 3 year rotation. I'd keep in touch with my closest friends for a while, and meet new ones. I was so used to the pattern that when my Dad retired and I started attending the small town middle school, not just the on-base elementary school started hanging out with new people after 3 years had past. One of the great things about military families, is how close they... can be. Moving and changing and saying goodbye to everyone else is in my mind a major part of that. Every now and then you run into the same people someplace else, (especially Kodiak, it's full of repeat customers) but your parents never go away for very long. And I know of several juniors in high school whose parents were reassigned at a very inconvenient time. But they found ways around it, sometimes kids stayed in town with close friends of the family, sometimes the Coastie moved to the new station while the family stayed until their high school student, (or in one case high school students,) finished high school.

From my experience, as long as your there for your brats when they have to deal with it, they'll be just fine.

Just a Girl in a Port said...

Thanks for the comment novahawk9 and welcome to our blog. We are so glad you enjoy it.

I agree with the close-knit relationships about military families. It doesn't take long to settle in to a friendship, relate and become a family of sorts. I'm proud to say my kids have plenty of Coastie 'counsins' and 'aunts' and 'uncles' thanks to this extended family.

Again, thanks for your comment. Your response gives me hope that it's not all that bad for the kids--just like I'd hoped!

C Anderson said...

For first grade, I attended four schools in two different countries. At the time: I hated it. Leaving your friends, fitting into a new routine, and watching your parents stress for each move/PCS was no picnic. But today, I can fit in anywhere, talk to anyone, adapt and oversome in any situation. To this day, my family keeps a long list of former neighbors with whom we exchange holiday greetings. You grow and depend on each other, forging bonds not forgotten. Each year, they are the ones who reply with congrats and salutations when we document a milestone: retirement for my dad, my marrying into the USCG, our recent OCONUS orders.

The challenges makes us stronger but not without a tight community on which we can lean during the hardtimes.

Even as a professional, my claim to fame is "Army Brat." When people ask, "So, where are you from?" I reply, "Nowhere, really. I am an Army Brat." In response I see either a head nod in understanding or a "yeah, I am a Brat, too, [insert service branch here]." And the conversation continues...

Just a Girl in a Port said...

Hi C!
I was waiting for you to pipe in! I think you could write the book on this one.

You are a people person for sure. I guess I will have that too look forward to with my kids. They are pretty extroverted now, so I'm not too concerned anyway. I hope the can make the best of it as they grow and will continue to cherish their Coast Guard Brat memories in their adulthood.

C Anderson said...

A book, a book tour, an interview with Opera, a guest spot on Real Time with Bill Maher, and I could still have stories to fill in this open dialogue.

Military families are "real." We have a common thread unlike any other stereotypical categories of American families. Our dinner tables have PCSed around the world, and our shelves are lined with pictures and trinkets from far off adventures that some never behold.

In 1990, I moved from post-wall Berlin to Columbia, SC. At 10 years old, I have crossed the Atlantic a dozen times or more; my classmates had never been on a plane-- or out of the Palmetto state.

Being a brat sure gives you perception, different or otherwise (ooh rah).

C Anderson said...

Sigh. I meant Oprah.

Flo said...

I met Brian precisely BECAUSE he was like your prom queen friend. He breezed into Fairfield High in 1999, dated all the pretty, popular, and older girls, and broke a few hearts along the way. By spring 2000 he had moved on to Novato High. :) I avoided him like the plague because so many people talked about what a shameless flirt he was, and when I met him again in 2006 I realized that not much had changed. lol

Like Christina, he loved being a military brat. He lived in Korea for two years and traveled the entire country. Military life is the only one he knows, since he enlisted at age 19 and commissioned at age 22. I'm getting used to it myself, but I know when I become a parent I'll have the same questions to ask that you've listed here.

Fabulous post, as always :)

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