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These won’t be my daughters, or my sons

April 1, 2007

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/01/education/01girls.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hp

My kids aren’t doing that.  We won’t live in one of those cities, and they won’t be at one of those high schools.  There will be no stories of my children awake and crying at four am because they can’t finish their AP physics homework.  The only reason they’ll be up at that time in high school is if they’re out late on the weekend.
Maybe they’ll hate me for it.  Maybe it really is true that the only way to be anyone anymore is to be one of those people, to immerse your family so deeply in obsessive over-achieving that your children don’t know any other way to be.  Maybe my kids really will end up in dead end jobs and will never forgive me in this decision.  I don’t think so, though.
See, even now it’s supposed to be that the only way to be someone is to go to a brand name school.  We’re all supposed to need test prep courses and seven APs to get anywhere in life, as well as a huge list of extracurriculars and community service projects.  It is true that to go to the ‘best’ schools and get the highest paying jobs you probably need to do just that, but that’s not the only standard for success.  Which school is ‘best’ is very relative: Illinois would be the best school if I wanted the highest caliber education for grad school, but it’s not the best school for me.  As an undergrad choice, it’s obvious that the Ivies are better than U of M, but I would have been miserable out east at a small school that’s so elitist.  The ‘best’ schools in the country would not make me happy.  As for money being the standard of success, I can’t help but feel that the upper class educated segment of America is losing touch with what is necessary to be financially stable.  I suppose of you need fancy vacations every year to exotic locations, the newest car, designer clothes, and a bigger house and tv than the Smiths across the street, then yes you probably need to be upper crust.  But a car thats four years old and not such a big brand will still get you where you’re going.  Your children won’t appreciate Europe when they’re seven, and will make the plane ride hell.  It is actually very possible to be happy and successful growing up in the middle class.
I’m going to interject here with a graph from wikipedia and a factoid.  The image is located here: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/74/Income_curve_US.png
The statement: “In 2004, the middle fifty percent of households had annual gross incomes between $22,500 and $75,000.”  Taken from the page titled “American middle class”.  That’s the people I’m talking about, the people in the middle half.  When I say “upper class” I refer to people in the upper quarter of household incomes, and “lower class” is then the lowest quarter.
Actually I think I’ll stop here.  I’m afraid of getting insulting or something like that.  I can’t decide if I get the impression from the media and those around me that the upper class is afraid of being average, or if they look down on average, or maybe it’s both, but either way I don’t plan to cater to that stereotype.  If I’m middle class, that’s cool with me.  My kids will be raised with free time to play in the dirt and chase boys and girls, and only if they want will they have such crazy schedules.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. April 2, 2007 5:37 am

    What really gets me is…I didn’t try that hard. Ever. It kind of feels like…if I’m what I am now without trying, what could I have been if I had tried?
    But then I remember…I’m actually beginning to really like what I am now, and that’s the part that matters. Sometimes I think people get too caught up in what they think they should be and don’t realize how amazing they are. Why drive yourself crazy trying to get into a particular school, trying to look a certain way, trying to keep a certain grade? People need to listen to more John Lennon: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Personally, I’d rather love what I have then spend my entire life working to leave that great of an impression. If I can make one person happy, my life will be worth it. I want to teach my kids that they can be whatever they want to be, but more importantly, I want to teach them that they don’t have to be perfect.

  2. April 2, 2007 7:44 am

    Yeah I’m a fan of living more simply and enjoying where I am right now as much as possible. That hyper-competitive thing works for some people, but I don’t understand it enough and have no desire to make my children live that way.

  3. April 2, 2007 8:33 pm

    Hi :-D
    Felt like droppin’ by.

  4. April 2, 2007 9:25 pm

    OMW MIKE! How have you been?!?! It’s been forever! I’ve missed you! Wow. We need to catch up. Before I LEAVE THE STATE! (I’m prolly going to grad school in California!)

  5. April 2, 2007 11:13 pm

    I’m alright, just kinda pokin’ around Adrian, goin’ places and seein friends.
    I work at Bixby and Herrick now (Herrick changed its name, it was Herrick Memorial, now it’s Herrick Medical Center). Hidden away down in the basement in the Pharmacy.
    When are you going to CA? And where?
    If you have a myspace you can find me on there.
    http://www.myspace.com/wandering_optimist
    I don’t plan to move until fall 2008, so I’ll be here a while.

  6. April 2, 2007 11:48 pm

    Yeah I’d heard you were at Bixby. Mom or someone saw you there.
    Hehe love your myspace. I just spent an enjoyable stretch avoiding homework reading bunches of your old blog entries. Hey, I’m graduating – I don’t have to do so much homework now anyway!
    Speaking of graduating, if you don’t manage to come up here and visit me before I leave then I’ll just have to track you down back home. I haven’t decided for sure, but right now my top choice for grad school is UC Irvine. That’s south of LA. If I go there I’ll probably be leaving by the end of June, ’cause I want to do this summer program which starts in early July. Can you believe I’m going to grad school? I still think it’s a big joke that anyone will consider giving ME a PhD – I’m just not smart enough for that. But I’m not going to argue if someone’s going to give me beaches and sun and enough money to get by for five years.
    So where are you planning on moving to? Gonna come join me out in California, or someplace else?

  7. April 3, 2007 12:21 am

    My plans for moving haven’t really been cemented yet, so I have no place definite yet.
    My hopes are to end up in Chicago, NYC, San Fran, or San Diego (or suburbs, I really don’t care, so long as I’m only an hour or so away from whatever place I want).
    But fall ’08 gives me plenty of time to finish up my bills (almost done btw, paid off my car, a credit card, got one scheduled for pay-off on May 28th, and workin in the hospital is a pay raise). There’s a tech there that graduated with a ba in business and she’s looking for a new job, once she’s gone, I get her fulltime, so I’ll take it and be done with everything by this fall.
    So if I get that taken care of by August, then that’ll give me a year to save up with plenty to head out to somewhere and all the experience I need.
    Wherever I go though, I want it to be by a pharmacy school. I still plan on that, just the urgency to re-enroll is kinda miniscule right now.
    As long as I plan to go back I feel comfortable.
    And yeah, your mom saw me one night at Bixby. :) We chatted for a minute.

  8. April 9, 2007 5:46 pm

    Whoa sorry about the delay. Slacked off and then suddenly I was in Chicago…funny how that works. Anyway yes. That’s really awesome that you’re doing well with work and such. You want to move to San Diego, because I’m very probably going to be about ninety miles north of there for grad school.
    I really want some skittles. Anyay yes. I’d really like to see you. We’re having a jello party this Friday. 8-10 it’ll be innocent dorky fun, then we kick out the freshmen and break out the booze, so it’ll still be dorky but less innocent. We party like dorks though so I don’t know that it’s your thing. Other than that, I’m crazy busy until I graduate on the 28th (!_!) but I can try to make some time…at some point…especially if you want to write my paper for me. Do you still have my number?

  9. April 11, 2007 7:06 am

    It’s possible that I could be there on Friday.
    Not sure if I’d stay for it, if I go I probably should.
    But a new guy is trying to get me to head up to Gigi’s in Detroit to hang out Friday night.
    I don’t really know that’d I’d be comfortable meeting someone and all his queen friends in a bar in Detroit though, lol. Last time that happened in 2005 it got kinda ugly in the longrun… :-D
    But I think he’s cute, take a look: http://www.myspace.com/calirockstarboy
    And I do think you’re right. :-D I probably want to go out to San Diego, warm all the time, water, and there are hot people out there. :) I still wanna be part of a pretty group of people, (my vanity hasn’t vanished, I’ve just learned to curb some of it).
    I just need to figure out what kinda of license they require for a pharmacy tech out there. I think CA requires something. Michigan is just lazy and doesn’t ask for anything.
    I never had your number though.
    When you first moved into a house up there I think you gave me someone’s cell phone number, it’s been a while, I don’t remember.
    If I do stay, I’d love a drink.
    I don’t really go out much anymore.
    Bf’s took their toll on my finances and now I’ve directed that extra money to bills. So I might be using it more constructively, but that doesn’t mean I have any extra, lol.
    Ugh, you’re drinkin’ now huh?
    I’m 22, and you just turned 21 in September, right?
    I feel old, lol
    But yeah, I’ll let ya know in the next day or two for sure when I decide what I’m gonna do.
    I’m still at 517-442-9836

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