By Courtney Bedoya
Did you know dandelions are known to be the most successful plants that exist? And that they are masters of survival worldwide? Did you know dandelion seeds are sometimes transported by gusts of wind and travel by way of tiny parachutes? And they do not need to be pollinated to grow? Did you know every part of a dandelion is useful? A bright yellow dandelion is one of the most recognizable amongst the densest of flowerbeds. Now, did you know that the dandelion is the official flower of Military Children?
As the spouse of a retired Army Officer I have had the pleasure of knowing many “Dandelions”. They are some of the most incredible people I have ever met. Respectful and honest. Fun to be around. Smart and driven. Their desire to thrive and succeed is so strong. These little Dandelions did not ask for the life they have. They were born into it with either one or both parents as Service Members. And believe me it isn’t an easy life. It is like riding the most intense roller coaster imaginable. There are many highs, when their parent comes home from deployment or when you get stationed in cool places like Hawaii or Germany. But there are many challenges. Often times these little Dandelions go months without seeing their deployed parent. At a young age they carry around the burden of the unknown. Will their parent come home in time for the holidays? Their 6th birthday? Their school recital? Or even at all? Yet these amazing little Dandelions still thrive. They wake up every morning and make the best of each day.
Every three years or so the military wind picks these little Dandelion seeds up and carries them to their next duty station. With every move the little Dandelions are dropped off in a new place. Without knowing anyone these little seeds plant themselves, grow new roots and start to bloom. They make new friends. Start at new schools with new teachers. Learn the way around their new neighborhood, including the best shortcuts to nearby parks. And make the best of the situation. Our family mantra was always “We can do anything temporarily.” So we bloom temporarily, until the wind picks us up again and takes us to our next temporary home.
With each new duty station the little Dandelions gain valuable experiences. The military has bases sprinkled all round the US from Alaska to Florida, everywhere in between and even internationally. Every one of them different and exciting in their own way. They learn to surf in California, snowshoe in New York; they learn Japanese in Japan and Italian in Italy. They have the opportunity to meet people of different cultures and backgrounds. All of which teaches them to respect the differences that are inherent from one place to the next. Over their childhood these Dandelions pick up many skills and life lessons that are useful and give them a unique prospective on life.
There is something about these little Dandelions that make everything around them brighter. They find joy in little things like putting snacks and trinkets from home into a box for their deployed parent or standing at attention during the National Anthem. I’m not sure if it is just pure childlike innocence or if it is being the child of a Service Member make them see the world in a different light. But even in the dark mundane field’s of deployment you will find them growing and thriving. These little Dandelions bring a cheerful smile with them where every they go, lighting up the room. Somehow their life experience allows them to find humor and the positive side to almost all situations. No matter what they are going through, they grow and bloom into beautiful little flowers.
April is the month of the Military Child. Being a child can be hard, learning how to navigate the world, but being the child of a Service Member is even harder. These little Dandelions deserve our respect and recognition this month, and every month to come. While I’m sure they don’t fully understand the breadth of their situation or the difficulty of their life, but they know one thing, their parent is a Hero. Their Hero. And chances are they want to be just like them when they grow up.