In 1979, we moved from Mannheim, Germany, to Columbus, Georgia. The cutoff date for starting school was different in Georgia. According to the school rules, I was not old enough to start first grade and had to repeat kindergarten.
Mom disagreed with that policy, so she decided to lie about my age. She told the administrators she didn’t have all the documents they requested, due to the move and would bring them later. Since the school was located near a military base, this was a reasonable story and not uncommon.
Several months went by and I was sitting in class. The teacher asked, “Who knows their birthday?”
My hand shot up in the air and I said, “September 10, 1973.”
My teacher said I was wrong, but I was adamant about it. An argument ensued and I refused to even acknowledge the possibility that I was wrong.
The teacher had a talk with Mom when she came to pick me up that day. Mom played it off by saying her birthday is in September and I was probably just confused. She told the teacher I was born August 10, 1973.
We get home and Mom sits down with me for a talk. She explained the situation. I was confused, but agreed to keep my birthday a secret.
In 1980, we moved back to Germany and my age was never again a problem.
Gwen is 20 years old today. It doesn’t seem possible. Did I fall asleep for a decade? Did we skip a few years on the calendar? How did this happen?
Happy Birthday Gwen
Today is Aaron’s birthday. He would have been 42 years old. I thought I would honor the day by sharing one of our adventures together as children.
During the summer of 1988, my brother and I spent most of our free time exploring the woods and playing in a creek.
One day, we were hanging out in the woods and fishing. We had a bucket full of fish, but it started to rain. Neither one of us wanted to leave, since we were having so much fun.
I suggested we take the bucket of fish home and put the fish in our bathtub. That way we could continue having fun while we were at the house. Aaron thought it was a great idea, so that’s what we did.
My mom came home from work, as she passed by the bathroom, she saw Aaron sitting on the toilet with a fishing pole. She went into the bathroom to find out what in the world her son was doing.
When mom looked into the bathtub, she went ballistic. She started yelling at both of us to get those **** fish out of the there.
We put the fish back into the bucket and walked down the street. We decided to release the fish in our neighbor’s pound. Once we got home, Mom made us scrub the bathtub multiple times with several different cleaning solutions.
Personally, I think she may have overreacted just a little bit.
I was born with inner-ear deformities, so I have dealt with hearing loss my entire life.
In school, I struggled to hear the teacher. As a result, I was viewed as intellectually challenged. I was also punished for failing to follow directions that I never heard or that I misunderstood.
I couldn’t explain to the adults in my life what was happening. I didn’t understand it myself. I didn’t know the other children were hearing things that I missed.
For me, I think the saddest part of growing up with a hearing disability, is believing I was stupid and that I would never succeed in school or in life.
When we moved back to the United States in 1987, I was amazed at how different it was from Germany. I spent most of my life in Europe, so there was a lot that I didn’t know or understand about America.
One of the first things I noticed was the cereal isle in grocery stores. I was surprised to see an entire isle dedicated to cereal. I wanted to try every single box of cereal. I especially wanted to try the boxes that used pop culture to entice shoppers.
Unfortunately, my mom wasn’t willing to purchase that much cereal at one time. Oh well, that’s how life goes.
Growing up I looked forward to achieving certain milestones, because it meant I was entering adulthood. It seemed like it would take forever for me to get a driver’s license, finish high school, and get my own car. I counted down the years for what seemed like eternity.
However, I achieved those milestones about thirty years ago. It boggles my mind how much time has passed. I am now watching my niece become an adult and she too has achieved those milestones.
It just doesn’t feel right. It seems strange somehow. Do you know what I mean?
Today is National Military Brats Day. Being a military brat made my childhood unique in many ways.
- Where am I from? That is a hard question to answer. I was born in Fort Bliss (El Paso) Texas, but we left when I was only a year old. I can’t say I am from there. I spent the majority of my childhood in Germany, but I am not a German and I can’t say I am from there. Maybe, I am from nowhere or maybe I am from everywhere.
- I didn’t get to know my extended family as a child. Since I grew up overseas, I rarely got a chance to visit them.
- I learned all the words to the National Anthem while I was still in elementary school.
- As a child, I could see tanks outside my bedroom window.
- At school we celebrated Military Appreciation Day. They would fill the parking lot with military weapons, tanks, trucks, and helicopters. The kids were allowed to climb on everything. It was a ton of fun.
- We got to do fun things other kids would never get a chance to do, such as operating flight simulators and tank simulators.
- We also got to sample MREs. That wasn’t so much fun.
- Occasionally, we ate holiday meals at the Mess Hall.
- Taking a bus to Paris for the weekend was a thing, so was skiing in the Alps on a field trip.
- I learned to be adaptable at an early age.
- I also learned how to properly fold a flag.
Happy Military Brats Day