Monday, April 11, 2016

Military Monday: The Proof is in the Clematis.

My baby clematis peeking
over the fence
In our family we have a saying--well, several sayings actually--that revolve around postings/PCSs.

"I see someone I know every time I go to the grocery must be time to move."

"I can't go anywhere without running into someone I must be time to move."

"We've almost finished must be time to move."

"The bookcase is just the way I like must be time to move."

"I actually feel comfortable at must be time to move."

"The teachers know who I must be time to move."

You get the idea.

We say these things to torture ourselves, I think. Or to make it easier when the posting message actually comes. A coping mechanism. When you move every 1-3 years, there are some things that you really come to appreciate. The simple fact that your kid's gifts in Math precede them to the next grade. The knowledge that if you needed someone, you'd have more than one person to call. The location of the very best coffeehouse in town. These are things taken for granted in other communities, but in the military community they can be a sign that you've truly settled in a place.

Spring has sprung on Vancouver Island
I love to garden, and one of my dreams is to live in a place long enough to have both an established saucer magnolia, and a full, thriving purple clematis. To date it's never happened.  Even one of the two would be nice, but as always, the magnolia just takes root...and it's time to move.

One of the first things I did last summer was plant a clematis, in hopes it would take root and grow to something fantastic while we were still here. It did well all summer, and I even saw a few blooms before the fall. Throughout our short winter, I watched it, wondering how it would fare.

And now, after a wet and dark winter, spring is here on the pacific coast. Flowers are blooming and birds are singing and last week I noticed that my Clematis plant is not only up, but it's thriving. New shoots are poking out everywhere, and it's grown tall enough to peek over our almost six foot fence.

The clematis is must be time to move, right?

Yup. Our posting message came the next day.

And so, the clematis has spoken.  The Dunne family are on the move this summer, this time to the Eastern US.

As much as the upcoming post is exciting, I'll be sad to leave my little clematis plant to fend for itself. Who knows, maybe our next house will have one to take it's place.

And a magnolia too.


Like this post? Check out my other posts on 'Posting Phases:Orders, or Season of See-You-Later.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

April: The Month of the Military Child


About two weeks ago I had the privilege of sitting in a local elementary school, listening to children from 6th to 10th grade give speeches--in French--as part of a nationwide competition, the Concours d'Arts Oratoire, (Oratory Arts Competition). It was the district finals, and my youngest daughter, who started French Immersion in 4th grade, was one of three finalists speaking in the 8th grade group of 'early immersion' kids, kids who started French in kindergarten.

Her speech was on Les Enfants de la Militaire, basically Military Children. She spoke fluently in a language she's only known for four years, with a passion born from life in seven homes in three countries, seven schools, numerous deployments and goodbyes.

Although my French is spotty, I have to say I was so proud to listen to her speak. She answered questions--in fluent French--about what she loved about being a military child, about the Month of the Military Child, and about her reasoning behind her speech.

She won the division. (so proud!!)

And then a week later my husband received a posting message for another cross-continental, cross-border move.

There's no life like it, right?

The fact is, military kids put up with a lot. How many first and second world war children never got to meet their fathers? How many times do military kids have to say goodbye to their bestest of BFF's, because their parent has to go to a new location? Stressors abound in the military lifestyle, and often military kids endure them in silence, because that's just the way life is.

But it's not all bad. In fact, the military life is a pretty fabulous way to grow up. The flower of the military child is a dandelion, and for good reasons. They move, they set up roots, and they flourish wherever they're put. In our family we've
embraced the lifestyle, and it's made all the difference. Being a military child sets kids up for real life.

They're amazing individuals, and here's five reasons why:

1. Military children are resilient.

All of that movement, all of that change, sets kids up well for real life. Your high school friends most likely won't be there to support you through college. And jobs don't necessarily happen where you want them too. Like many things in life, the only way to learn how to adapt to new situations is to experience them--and these children experience many, many new things in their early years.

2. Military children know respect.

In a culture which demands respect, military kids learn the meaning first hand. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule (we've all met that kid), but generally military kids understand that rules are there for a reason.

3. Military children are good workers.

When my husband went away on deployment in 2010, I knew I'd need help with the day to day things or the house would slowly deteriorate around me. I set up a chore chart, with three sets of chores, rotating between the 3 kids each week. Some weeks were a little harder, some easier, but, surprisingly enough, it worked. My kids learned that if they didn't do the dishes one day, the pile would be even bigger the next. Six years later, that chore chart still exists, and although I sometimes have to prompt, they generally sort it out. It's a huge help. And skills they will need for later in life.

4. Military children are independent.

You don't have to be a teenager to know that high schools are social jungles. Walking into a new high school alone, without knowing a soul, is a seriously stressful event. But they do it. Time and again. And next year, it will be a new school, a new job, and a new team in a different place.

5. Military children have global experiences.

One of our favourite parts of being a military family is the opportunities we've had to see new places and experience new cultures. Even within Canada, things are done differently in different parts of the country. Our kids are experienced travellers, and they understand that life does not stop at the high school doors. There is so much more out there and they recognize that they've had many opportunities others don't get to experience... like learning to speak French. Or hanging out with dad at an air show. Or even going to school in a different country.

Do you know a military child? Let them know how much you appreciate their silent support.

Are you a military child? Thank you. Your service behind the scenes makes our world a better place.