What’s in a Name?

Something came to my attention yesterday and I have to admit I am completely surprised by how much it has annoyed me. Deeply annoyed me. While not quite outraged, I am circling in that area. How weird it feels to get so upset about this.

But really, how dare she? How dare they? How dare anyone?

We are not bothered by the term so why should you tell us we should be? Either by explicitly saying it’s derogatory or by implication? Why would anyone who has never lived the military life ever dare tell us what we should call ourselves? Why would you try to change our name? We are Brats.

You can’t soften the experience by calling it something more happy and appealing. You know that right? You can’t change the challenges or make us miss our deployed parent or the friends we just left less or help us make friends more easily by calling us a different name.

Do you as an adult get that? Yes you, the adult who has never experienced our life. You can’t change reality by giving us a name that makes you feel better.

I’m sure your intentions are fine, but CHAMP (child heroes attached to military personnel) simply doesn’t fly. If you’re successful, it’ll take over and work for later generations I suppose. But I have to say that’s a pretty dorky name for those of us who grow up military. It’s a made-up-by-another-clueless-adult-trying-to-make-the-world-a-better-place-than-it-really-is name. And if I may be so cynical, by trying to trademark (or copyright — I have to look it up) your little acronym there, it looks suspiciously like you’re trying to make some money off of us.

Your name for us means nothing of value to us, because we know better. Because we live it. It makes no sense to try to mask our reality to make you feel better, as if you’re somehow improving life for us. We don’t view ourselves as heroes, so why put that burden on our shoulders? We understand what a hero is and it’s not us. We just tag along for the ride.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad life. Not always. I mean, seriously, I got to live in a beautiful foreign country and learn a new language. I visited old historic places. We actually drove through East Germany to Berlin and stood at The Wall a little over a decade before it crumbled. I can’t describe the feeling I had watching the news when it did come down. Do you know what seeing freedom feels like? While living in Germany, I visited real castles, cruised the Rhein, went to Holland, Belgium and Austria. I went to the real Oktoberfest. I skied for the very first time in the Alps! I’ve eaten Thanksgiving dinner in a top secret mountain place. Am I supposed to say that? Don’t ask me where it is because I don’t remember. I got to winter and summer in Hawaii when I was in college. Christmas at Waikiki? Yes please. Mahalo. Mele Kalikimaka!

I have been absolutely spoiled by getting to see and experience things I likely would never have been able to if my dad had not been in the Army.

But it’s not all fun and games and exotic places. Four schools in one calendar year—in two different States and another country. Always becoming the new kid in town. Always leaving good friends behind or watching your friends go. Dad leaving for extended periods of time. Dad not leaving for extended periods of time (heh heh heh). Military housing. PX clothing (ohmygosh, as a tween/teen girl, seriouslytheworst!).

Please, please, please, don’t ever call me a CHAMP. I am a Brat through and through and very proud of it. It fits. It helps. We understand each other. We endured. We are strong. We like being called Brats. It’s part of our DNA, a slice of our identity. It may not sound like a feel-good term, but it feels good to us. It’s like home to those of us who grew up not really knowing where to call home.