Growing up military

Rollerskating outside the PMQs

Rollerskating outside the PMQs

When I was smaller I was some what isolated from the real world. No I wasn’t institutionalized. And no, I didn’t live on a remote island in the Atlantic. I was a child of the military. If that’s you too, you know what I mean.

My parents were part of the Canadian military, Navy specifically. We lived anywhere there was water, duh. We lived on the east coast (Nova Scotia, where my sister and I were both born) and then moved to the west coast (Vancouver Island) then inland to Ottawa (Ontario), the military graveyard where they go  to retire. Being in the Navy, we never received the glamorous overseas postings to Germany or Africa, but then we were lucky enough to not end up in Cold Lake, Alberta either.

I feel sort of dishonest telling people I’m from Nova Scotia. I mean I was born there, but born of two conservative (not in the political sense), meat and potato eating, southern Ontario parents. I don’t feel I fit in the stereotype of an easterner, though I’d like to think I do. Maybe that’s an argument for Nurture vs. Nature.

Even though we were living in Canada, the military liked to keep us penned up together in our own area. We lived together in substandard housing, we went to church together in our own church, we even had our own school and stores (if you can call the Cannex a store) all located behind a gated wall on the base.

And even when we moved to Ottawa and lived and attended school (high school) off the base, most of my friends were retired military kids. Just couldn’t escape it I guess. But it was one of my friends in high school that gave me a dose of the outside world. We were comparing our parents jobs and where we had been growing up, when one friend said her dad was a school bus driver. And then it hit me that other people do those other jobs. I mean I see them every day, driving the bus, selling tickets at the movie theatre, working in the grocery store, cutting hair, but it didn’t really sink it until these words came out of her mouth. What’s even funnier, all my friends who grew up in the military have gone on to do work in fields no way connected to military life, all that is except my one friend with the bus driving dad. She  joined and became a Military Police officer (she just returned to Canada from being stationed in South Africa).

I toyed with the idea of joining the military too. When I was younger I was actually in the Navy League. Yup, I know semaphore and can play the bosin pipe, very handy skills in life. But I smartened up. It’s not that being in the military isn’t a good life, I think it’s a life ideal for a certain personality and mine just isn’t that.

Now growing up in the military wasn’t all bad. Yes, we lived in cardboard houses (well, it felt that way some times) and the education was pretty poor (I’m surprised I can red? reed? read). I did get to see a lot of the country that I normally wouldn’t have seen. I’ve watched my sister become sea sick on rough seas during family day on a destroyer. And when I had to go to Vancouver to receive a writing award, we sailed across the strait on a destroyer (oops, maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that one).

2 responses to this post.

  1. My dad was honorably discharged about a year after we were born. Three years later, when we were four, we moved out to a Navy base in the high desert when my dad got a government job. Yes, I’m aware of the irony. My sister and I dealt with the some of the same things being on a military base. All our friends were born outside of the state on military bases. It wasn’t until we moved to IL when we were 12 that I realized how sheltered we were up til then. When I mentioned casually in History class that sis and I were born in Cuba, the whole class descended like vultures claiming that we were communists. I had no idea that they did not know there was a US military base in Cuba. Good thing my History teacher was active in the Reserves. He gave the kids such a talking to I still remember it! lol


  2. LOL! I’m a military wife and believe me those cardboard houses are still there!

    But your post got me thinking about how my kids would think about being army brats and the “outside world”!

    Love you blog! Keep it up!



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