Inside: We love to taut the resilience of military kids, but the truth is, it’s hard. What do you do when your military kid isn’t feeling all that resilient?
I watched everything in my room get wrapped in layers of brown packing paper and put into boxes labeled “Boy Room.”
My trophies and favorite legos were stuffed down deep into the bottom of a giant box. “Please let my model airplane I built with my grandpa make it in one piece,” I prayed.
I rushed to grab the last items I needed for the next three weeks before the movers packed them. I had to cram it into my suitcase, allowing room for my favorite stuffed animal and a Harry Potter book.
Two days later, an eighteen-wheeler pulled up.
I watched from the porch swing, as a gazillion boxes were loaded by a crew of very hard working men, on to the truck. I already had my last farewell pool party with some neighborhood friends, and now my family was heading off to our first of two temporary lodgings before we made the road trip three thousand miles from this place, a place I had called home for the last two years.
Funny, when we arrived at this duty station two years ago, my parents worked tirelessly to make sure my room was set-up with my favorite things. They signed me up for my first basketball team, practice beginning in a few short weeks. We even visited my new school before the school year began. I guess they were doing things to make sure I felt at home, even though we didn’t know a single person here. I was already starting to miss my old friends and neighbors.
I was eager to make a new friend or two on the street, so maybe I would recognize at least one face on the first day.
I was halfway looking forward to school starting.
Summer quickly ended and I headed to my first day at my new school. I met my teacher and she showed me the way to the library and lunchroom. I tried not to bite my fingernails because I was a nervous wreck. Most of the kids in my class already had a friend and some of them even bragged about how they had been at the same school since Kindergarten.
I eventually got settled in and learned my way around. After a few weeks, I had a few people I felt comfortable playing with on the playground. Then, my Dad got the news that he would be unexpectedly going on a deployment. Just like that, my world was turned upside down, again.
Who was going to help me learn to play basketball, now?
During that school year, he missed my birthday, a Christmas Choir performance, and all the holidays. When I played on my first basketball team during his deployment, it was hard for me to control my emotions on the court. I wanted to run away and hide every time I made a mistake. My Mom did her best to make life seem normal, but I secretly missed having my Dad around to shoot baskets with me and watch football on Sundays.
Here’s the thing about being a military kid. I am very proud of my Dad for being a Marine. When he is in his dress uniform, I count all his medals and love they way they make a jingling sound when he walks. I have attended all the fancy ceremonies and my whole life I’ve heard words like service, patriotism, and hero. I understand that part. And people always say when I am older, it will all make more sense. But, sometimes I don’t really care about that stuff. I secretly just miss my old house and my Dad.
When the Marines finally return home from deployment and my family gets used to being together again…
It seems like it’s time to pack up and start all over again.
Once I finally feel comfortable in this place, I find myself sitting on what’s now become my favorite porch swing and watched as my world is loaded on to another truck.
I can’t quite imagine the next place. I haven’t lived there before, and I don’t know a soul. It’s hard for me to have faith that it takes time and with any luck, I’ll meet someone who I can call a friend. But I still worry. What if I don’t meet someone? The feeling of being alone at the lunch table and recess makes my stomach ache. I hope I like my teacher and that the kids in my new neighborhood are nice. I hope my trophies and model plane make it in one piece.
I hear people say all the time how resilient and strong military kids like me are supposed to be.
I don’t know about that. All I know is that even though I try to put on a brave face and roll with the unexpected punches, sometimes it is still hard. Maybe it’s easier for some kids. There was a boy that lived next door to us once that seemed to have a personality suited for the adventure of it all. For me, I take longer to warm up and do better once I feel comfortable in my surroundings. I thrive with routine and predictable situations. Some kids might prefer the thrill of the unknown. I guess like a fingerprint; all kids are unique and different.
So, after a long drive and a million stops along the way, we finally made it to the next duty station. After five nights in the base temporary housing, we got the keys to our new house.
I hope I will make a friend on my new street, so I have at least one familiar face at my new school. And, in the meantime, I am working to find a new favorite spot, so I can watch the new crew unload the truck that made it across the country. I will secretly hold my breath until the “Boy Room” boxes get unpacked and my favorite model airplane and trophies are unpacked and put on the shelf intact.