On being a squaddie brat

army lifeI joined a group on Facebook ages ago called “British Forces Brats” then promptly forgot about it.

Recently, for some reason, it has exploded into life and started appearing on my newsfeed every day. A lot of the posts are things like “Who else was stationed here?”, “What regiment was your dad in?” and “How many schools did you go to?” (five for me, in case you were wondering) but there are some posts describing characteristics that I can relate to and that I never even thought to relate to my army upbringing!

  • You are always on time if not early for everything and often end up waiting ages before anyone else turns up – YES! I am always at least on time, and usually way too early. If I have arranged to meet someone, turning up late is just plain rude!
  • You find it hard to make close friends because as a kid everyone you knew always moved away after a mximum of 4 years (or you moved and they didn’t). ALso, you find “civvies” (civilians)much harder to talk to than fellow army brats – Yes, definitely! I thought my complete inability to make friends or strike up a conversation was because there’s something wrong with me, but it’s true that before leaving the army life I never had a friend for more than three years (with one or two exceptions), not becasue we fell out, but because one of us moved and we never thought to exchange addresses. There was no Facebook to stay in touch back then! Maybe I do subconciously still think that any friend I do make won’t stick around for long… And not so much now, but certainly when I started at my first “proper” civilian school up North, people found me weird (the school before that was technically a civvy school, but being in Aldershot – home of the British army at the time – at least half the pupils were squaddie brats and another quarter had some association with the army. And come to think of it, a lot of people there found me weird too… the only people I hung around with had parents who either were still in the army or who had got out and decided to settle down in Aldershot…
  • You get itchy feet every three years or so and want to move – Okay, that one I did attribute to the army. I’ve been in Karlsruhe for over 6 years now (record!) but this flat is the third place I’ve lived within the town. I’m also on my 4th “job” now (I was a language assistant for a year then I did a year-long internship… I can actually hold down a job, honest!), which has probably helped me not get bored. Ironically, I absolutely hate packing up to move house… but you can’t have one without the other. If I want to move, I have to pack…

There were positive aspects to being an army brat, of course and I wouldn’t change it for the world! But reading that other people have had the same experience was like having a blindfold removed from my eyes. Now I get it… I’m not a freak, I’m a squaddie brat! And while I may be no good at making friends, I am open minded and able to adapt to living just about anywhere!