I have every confidence that my children would bloom wherever they were planted. We are living on our first military base, and I’ve observed that my little ones are reaping enjoyable benefits and gaining noteworthy life skills while living on the inside.

While they may not exactly articulate their “top five” list, I’ve noticed new traits and developments since joining this special and unique community.

Photo Credit: Jackie Toops
Photo Credit: Jackie Toops

They see their parent everywhere. In reality, they are seeing others dressed in exactly the same camouflage uniform. I can hardly count the number of times they’d see a soldier, and regardless of race or gender, they’d light up and say, “There’s daddy!” Most often the soldiers would smile or blush, and some shared that it happens all the time.

They have peers galore. Because bases are family-centric, there always seem to be friends their age either next door, right around the corner, or on the playground across the street. And Halloween trick-or-treating is epic.

Cool military vehicles abound. As a child, if I wanted to see humvees, tanks or planes, I’d have to attend a parade or an air show. This is not the case for my children. My son’s first four-syllable word while living on base was “helicopter.” Every time we enter or exit our installation, my boys excitedly point out the tanks on display. I agree – they’re pretty cool.

They appreciate hellos and goodbyes. Not a week passes that we don’t see a moving truck either delivering or picking up home goods. It’s become a normal practice for our family to welcome new neighbors with goodies, and to say goodbye to dear friends with hugs and warm wishes. Although it’s never easy, we make a point to enjoy our time with friends and seize the temporary opportunity to get to know each other and spend time together while we can.

They learn the meaning of community. Through our everyday interactions with friends and neighbors, we demonstrate that we’re all in this together. Just from their seeing similar homes, a service member in every family, and the care and support from shared meals and babysitting swaps, my children learn the meaning and importance of a military family. It truly takes a village and I’m happy to say that our community provides exactly that.

Jackie Toops Head ShotA self-described “Jackie of All Trades,” Army wife Jackie Toops chronicles her experiences in Europe through American eyes. Born in Florida and stationed in Germany, the mother of two enjoys writing, travel, art, languages, slow cooking and peaceful parenting. She studied Interdisciplinary Humanities, Museum Studies and Nonprofit Management, and has overseen public relations for museums, galleries and universities. Currently she is a contributing author for Wall Street International Magazine and a recurring on-air guest with AFN Wiesbaden. She’s usually seen traversing Europe with her Canon, a coffee and two small children. Follow her on Twitter.



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