The 2022-2023 school year started with a twist at our house. The school our kids have attended for the last two years decided to switch their uniform policy and only allow uniforms from a particular company. First, you bet your bottom dollar I sighed deeply at this (expensive) change for our last year in Virginia. Second, as I write this near the end of week two for our fourth and sixth graders, we still don’t have uniforms — they have yet to be delivered (deeper sigh while I subtract two weeks from the already small window of time they will wear these uniforms).
Now, maybe it’s my strong Type A or my lifelong aversion to getting in trouble at school, but I lost sleep over these delayed uniforms — at least until I learned it was a schoolwide issue. Can you guess who didn’t have a problem with this delay, though? Correct — our fourth grader and our sixth grader.
I hear you, military-connected audience, “Duh, ‘civies’ are more comfortable than uniforms; of course, they were fine with the shipping delay.” And, you would be right, but I think this is more about their resilience taking center stage.
Hear me out. I grew up in a very scheduled and black-and-white household. Wake up, cereal, get dressed, go to school, go home, repeat. Activities were scheduled and didn’t change. Each holiday looked just like the last. Last-minute invites and changes were deal breakers or grounds for what I now recognize is overly-dramatic panic. Life was predictable.
However, our kids are lifelong military brats. Last-minute changes, scenery changes and schedule changes ensure nothing is “normal” or predictable. They have learned to roll with punches that would’ve knocked middle school Kristi out.
The point of this little glimpse into our current school year is to help you recognize similar little victories in your own military kids. We often applaud resilience in military kids at the major-league level — PCSes, deployment and reintegration, making and leaving friends, etc. If we’re truly looking, though, we can see their resilience shine daily. All of their big bounce backs make it so much easier not to sweat the small stuff.
I imagine those delayed uniforms might have gotten a bigger reaction out of my kids if we were used to expecting a uniform delivery ahead of each new school year — sort of an end-of-summer tradition. But, as it turns out, our kids have been in two and three schools respectively, some with uniforms, some without, so one little change this year was a drop in the bucket for them.
I like that things are always changing for our family, and I think the kids do too. I often advocate for the “lack of tradition” that can come with military life. Schedules are always changing. Routines adapt to new duty stations. The layout of a military child’s home changes every few years. And simply because of geographical separation, we don’t always get together with family for birthdays and holidays. I choose to see each of these “truths” as opportunities, not challenges.
So, take this to heart. Each time you feel guilty for disappointing your military kiddos, uprooting them, changing their plans, changing their surroundings, or waving off normal expectations, like birthday parties or family holiday traditions, just remember that the deviation from the norm is probably harder on you. These little resilient beings we’re raising will likely adapt in the moment just fine and grow up truly prepared for a life that throws them for a loop sometimes.