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ANNETTE SIMMONS

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Cheyenne, Wyoming

© 2007-2019 Elizabeth Dillow, LLC

Being a Military Kid

Being a military kid isn't always the easiest thing to be. As has been discussed here ad nauseum over the years, it's hard for obvious reasons: the moving, the giving up of routine and normalcy, the making of new friends, the moving into strange houses and bedrooms and states thousands of miles from home even when the "home" in question was just another temporary stop along the way.


But sometimes, being a military kid is awesome. It's basically like being a foreign exchange student all the time. What do foreign exchange students do? They learn the culture. They make friends with different upbringings than themselves. They learn to think about things in more than one way. They experience. Not to say non-military kids don't do those same things, because they do! It's just that military kids do those things at a dizzying rate—a rate that is synced up with conditions and considerations completely out of their control. Like all good comedians with a background in improv know, the best way to approach life is to say "yes and—" and dole out the "no thank yous" sparingly. It is much the same for the military kid.


Which brings us to Sunday, when two of the kids in Gracie's class this year hosted an end-of-year party. However, they live so far away and the snow was so bad last week they cancelled the party on Saturday, thinking people might get stuck on the many miles of dirt roads required to reach them. Except we didn't get the memo because the mama didn't have my number, so we showed up with our potluck treat in hand. This family is so great they didn't even mind we were suddenly crashing their Sunday afternoon. I am so glad we didn't get the memo, because we had a BALL.

I mean, come on—we got to see this view for most of the way to their house!

This family owns a few horses of varying sizes, and Gracie got a crash course in how to ride on a pony named Joe. Joe and Gracie were meant to be, because proportionally, they were a perfect fit: small horse, small girl. I thought she might freak out a little about how much her friends' mom expected her to do—but because she was patient and extremely calm in her instruction, Gracie got the hang of it with a huge smile on her face and no issues at all. A more distant version of Gracie might have panicked about being up that high on a living creature for sure and shut the fun down in a hot second. Hey, parents of spirited, sensitive toddlers: it gets better. Truly.

Within 20 minutes, they were off for a ride around the property. Just like that. Now granted, Joe is a well-trained, calm horse who has been there and done that much like Matt's CFD horse Kiwi, but still—good heavens.


She worked on posting and trotting and if we hadn't finally told her it was time to wrap up, this kid might have ridden all the way to Mexico.


She got lessons on how to dismount a horse (not scary, since she spends so much time dismounting gymnastics equipment) and also how to clean up the hooves.

Her friends' dad was getting ready to help in a branding next weekend.

The three kiddos took off on a no-faster-than-10-mph hay ride via ATV as the afternoon clouds rolled in, just before we went in for a snack.


We've lived in Wyoming for a large part of Gracie's life, but she has never spent an afternoon quite like this one. It was definitely one of those days that make all the moving, the heartbreak, and the hassle of being a military kid 110% worth it.