Since we are no longer living on a base and we are living in a community that is not largely military, I've started a new past-time: watching my kids interact with kids who have never been associated with the military.
Let me tell you, it can be hilarious.
Recently, my second daughter told a friend that we once went to Busch Gardens when her Dad have leave coming home from deployment. The look on that kid's face was priceless.
"Your Dad left when you went to Busch Gardens?"
"No, he was on leave, so we went to Busch Gardens."
"What does that mean?"
It was then that I realized we had never used the word "vacation" to refer to AFG's time off! That was kind of weird. I mean, leave is both shorter and easier to spell than vacation, I guess. And my kids knew what vacation meant and what a vacation was - it was just not something we do. We "take leave".
And let me tell you, kids get some very interesting ideas when they find out someone's Dad or Mom is in the military. One kid asked #2 if we kept a gun above the door. A gun above the door? Like in Little House on the Prairie?
"No," I told him. "AFG leaves his weapons at work."
The kid's disappointment was palpable - I think he was gearing up to ask for a trip to the range.
Also surprising the heck out of me - on a recent play-date, #3's friends asked if they could include some of AFG's old uniforms in their dress up trunk. The hats are especially popular. It was quite interesting to watch a bunch of girls parading around dressed in some kind of post-apocalyptic beauty show chic - fluffy dresses covered with an old DCU jacket or while wearing a boonie hat.
But I think the best thing of all, and the most indicative is this: that in their play and in their comments they absolutely exhibit a hero worship of those that serve in the military. They think service-members are the coolest and strongest and most capable people there are.
And I just happen to agree with them.