By Sarah Gibb
Killian, a boy who lives three doors down from us is a total jerk. He’s 11.
It’s hard not to be a total jerk when you’re 11. But my kids aren’t the least bit affected by this latest iteration of the neighborhood bully. Why not? They have learned that the way he behaves simply isn’t tolerated in our house, and that empowers them to ignore him. After a few moves and umpteen repeats by yours truly, they know the Team Gibb Mantra: “These people around us will come and go, but our family and our friends are forever.”
The number one reason why moving kids (over and over and over) is beneficial? We get to help our children develop their rock-solid sense of self from very early age.
We have the opportunity to expose our kids to so many different kid personality types in the early years, and while we still have a pretty close watch over them, we can talk about behavior our family accepts, expectations when it comes to attitudes, respect, and how to treat other kids and other adults. I’m thrilled to be able to show my kids real life examples of diversity, be it racial, ethical, moral, or otherwise.
The world is wide and there are advantages to moving four times by your fifth birthday as our middle child did. He thinks that shouting ciao, bella when you come and go is just good manners. He knows that no matter where in the world we live, his grandparents will come and visit him. He knows what a passport is, how to use it, and where to find our friends on the globe, not just on a map. Until you’ve driven from Virginia Beach to China Lake with your whole zoo in tow, it’s hard to have perspective on just how vast our country is. And while the Little Einsteins can cover territory pretty fast in Big Jet, there’s something about a child seeing the world, hearing the languages, tasting the food, that makes him internalize his place much more effectively than civilian kids ever could.
Military kids are good at hurry up and wait. Really good. Ever wait to move into base housing? In Italy where everything happens ‘tomorrow’? At the pharmacy when # 17 is called and you’re somehow B269?! Waiting is hard, for everyone – but it’s particularly hard for kids, small and large. Wait for Mommy to come home, she’s only been gone 3 months, honey. Wait for next fall when you get a new teacher! Wait until 2015 when we move back near Grandma. Wait until 2027 when we get to move where we choose.
You’re smiling because you know it’s true. Our angels learn the patience of saints, and when you add that to a solid moral compass and sense of their place in
this wide, wide world, I’ll take raising a blissfully happy house full of military kids any day of the week, and twice on Tuesdays.
Sara Gibb is a Navy wife and mom of three insanely active, freakishly tall bundles of joy. She hangs her professional hat at www.cwist.com, a crowd-sourced interactive library of educational, community service and outdoor challenges for kids.