Thursday, March 16, 2006

Blogging for Books--Little soldiers on the move

When I learned that this month's Blogging for Books topic was The Military, I thought I would write something about the sacrifices our soldiers make or share something about my experiences as a military spouse. When I sat down and began typing, something entirely different emerged.

I grew up in a small town near three Navy bases. New kids arrived in my classes every year and friends left every year as well. It was common for students to enroll at all times during the year. Those of us who were not military brats had already heard in kindergarten that we should welcome new friends as they were in a new city, new school, etc. We were good students and learned our lesson well. By the time we were in second grade, someone actually got hurt because we were all scrambling to sit next to the new girl in class!

A lesson not taught by the teachers but learned equally as well was how hard it was to be friends with kids in military families. We played tag and rode bikes together but learned not to share too many secrets or be best friends with people who might not be there a few months or a year later. Besides, they were used to moving often, meeting new people...they probably didn't want to make a best friend either.

At that time in our lives, we were learning a little geography and cursive writing. We got to be pen pals with kids in classrooms far away. It was exciting! However, making the leap to keeping in touch with school friends who moved to Virginia or Japan—pen pals that I already knew—did not usually last very long.

I grew up and married an Army officer. My daughter completed kindergarten before we had to move to a new town and new school. Her best friend from that year still sends her letters at least once a month and includes Halloween treats, Christmas cards and valentines. My daughter says “I will have to write her back” but rarely completes the task without a reminder from me. While I am glad that my daughter has adjusted to her new home and school and made new friends, I remember being the friend that was left behind, wondering why the letters stopped coming.

Though we live near a large Army installation, my daughter attends a private, Catholic school. Only a few of the other students are from military families. My daughter has a few good friends and one “best friend.” The BF likes to play with my daughter as often as she can, too. They get along great. However, I have tried to encourage my daughter to invite different friends over once in a while (hoping her friend will do the same).

We may move next summer. My daughter has really come out of her shell this year and is outgoing at school. That is a benefit of being a military brat. You have to learn to make new friends. I know she will be fine if we move to another city and another school. She will make new friends again.

I do worry for her best friend sometimes; the girl who will be left behind.

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